The Town of Mountain Village is took another step toward its long-term goals of zero waste by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050 by recently hiring Lauren Kirn as the town’s new environmental efficiencies and grant coordinator.
The idea of creating a new role to focus on the town’s existing energy-related efforts and offerings, as well as work with the town’s recently created housing department, only made sense, according to Zoe Dohnal, the town’s business development and sustainability director. And Kirn checked all the boxes. Her responsibilities will include promotion and managing town environmental efficiencies initiatives; reducing the town’s energy use and waste; promoting sustainable operational practices for the town, its residents and its guests; and maximizing funding opportunities for all town departments by administering and writing grant applications, Dohnal explained.
“This new position is the first time we’ve ever had a staff member dedicated to our sustainability and grant efforts,” she added. “As a mountain community that relies heavily on the health of environment, the town saw that we needed to make our sustainability efforts a priority to do our part to address climate change. We also felt strongly that with sustainability comes environmental efficiencies that not only help our impact on our surrounding environment but also help us become more efficient in our green house gas emissions, while also working toward carbon neutrality. There are also countless funding opportunities from federal and state agencies, and having a staff member dedicated to grant opportunities will further help the town and its constituents by finding funding opportunities and saving us money on some of the amazing projects we have on the horizon.”
Kirn most recently worked for the Colorado School of Mines, where she was responsible for managing the schedules and budgets for grant-funded research projects across the nation, including an $8.9 million federally funded project. She started her career as an environmental scientist in Washington D.C., where she worked for an eco-label organization. Kirn is a LEED (Leadership in Energy &Environmental Design) accredited professional for interior design and construction, as well as a WELL accredited professional.
“Lauren is a great fit for this position because of her absolute passion and dedication to environmental science. From the first interview, we could tell she was going to give 110 percent to the work and she has shown that since starting in August,” Dohnal said. “She’s networking with key players throughout our region, she’s immersing herself in all things Mountain Village to get a lay of the land to understand the needs of our community, including both residents, businesses and the town itself.”
Kirn said she’s excited to work on the town’s current programs and with other departments, specifically the housing department, in creating and continuing sustainable practices.
“As Mountain Village’s 2019 GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions inventory shows, the majority of emissions are from commercial and residential buildings,” she said. “With my experience and knowledge of construction and the LEED and WELL certification standards, I am excited to collaborate with the town’s planning & development and housing departments to understand our current building codes and processes and explore opportunities for further incorporating green building incentives.”
It’s not just building-related decisions, she added, but also other initiatives like single-use plastics or composting that contribute to the town’s biggest environmental goals.
“The town has incredible programs like the Solar Energy Incentive, Smart Irrigation Controls and Farm to Community, and I am excited to further these programs. I encourage anyone who qualifies to participate in any of those programs if they have not done so already. I am also looking forward to speaking with people and learning more about the community and its needs. Everything that we are doing is to benefit the Town of Mountain Village and the people and businesses within it. Understanding and engaging with the community is fundamental to the success of current and future programs and efforts,” Kirn said. “Sustainability is often viewed as an expensive and idealistic goal that negatively impacts the bottom line, but I wholeheartedly believe that sustainability is vital to economic success. I want to show that we are and can continue to be a sustainable community, both environmentally and economically. We live in an amazing community with an economy that relies heavily on outdoor recreation, so the health of our environment is crucial. This means that we are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and need to take an active approach in addressing the challenges associated with it to ensure economic resiliency. Mountain Village is extremely committed to paving a new path forward and I am honored to be working toward a better future for our community.”