Loren Wehmeyer:
Helping Vermont Businesses Go Green

Norwich university’s unique niche that combines both military students and civilian students also puts the university at an advantage for some particularly impactful projects in the future.

“Military bases are huge operations, and they are often located in cold climates,” says Loren Wehmeyer. “By understanding the environmental implications of designing bases and other types of military facilities, we can create spaces that both serve the troops better and are environmentally sound.”

A faculty member in the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS) Master of Civil Engineering program, Wehmeyer is in his first year as the administrator of the Vermont Green Business Program. As part of this no-cost, voluntary program sponsored by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Wehmeyer works with local companies to help them become state-recognized for meeting the program’s requirements for energy and water conservation, waste reduction, and sustainable agriculture.

“Vermont has a wonderful reputation for being very connected to the outdoors,” Wehmeyer explains. “By implementing a program like this, the state is doing its part to ensure that the businesses that call Vermont home are both recognized for their achievements and provided with assets that will help them preserve our natural resources.”

With Wehmeyer’s involvement, the program intends to add an additional 25 compliant businesses per year to their already 200-plus company membership statewide. With participants ranging from grocery stores to golf courses to hotels, in 2018 their focus is on expanding resources and offerings to new members.

“Right now, I’m working with the Alchemist, which operates breweries in Waterbury and Stowe, Vt. They’ve already made a lot of great sustainability choices on their own—such as creating systems for energy recovery and waste recycling—so we’re excited to help them take the next steps to becoming a Vermont Green Business.”

Wehmeyer’s interest in sustainable practices comes from both personal and scientific perspectives. Originally from Boulder, Colo., he has a natural love for the outdoors, especially the wild, remote areas of Vermont.

“Vermont truly is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream that is worth protecting,” Wehmeyer says. “It is important for me that my children and their children have the ability to experience these kinds of places. I’m doing my part to help make this outcome more likely.”

Earlier in his trajectory, Wehmeyer completed master’s degrees in business administration and environmental engineering, followed by a PhD in geoscience with a concentration in water resources management from the University of Iowa. Afterward, he embarked on a career that includes both civil engineering and hydrology, with experience managing multidisciplinary teams—geologists, geographers, physical scientists, and fellow engineers and hydrologists—to engage in local, regional, and government research projects on sediment transport, watershed modeling, stream stabilization and restoration, and more.

“I teach the business aspect of civil engineering,” Wehmeyer explains. “In most cases, the best long-term economic, environmental, and social outcomes stem from making sustainable decisions today.”

On the CGCS faculty since 2008, he makes sure that sustainability is a theme throughout the courses he teaches. “Awareness of the environment and its impact are particularly important here in the Northeast, where seasonal conditions can shift dramatically,” Wehmeyer says.

“As our climate continues to change, it’s important for our future civil engineers to know how to optimize our roads and infrastructure for swings in temperature, as well as to understand alternate energy and fuel sources.” – Kathrin Havrilla

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