In 2022, the Lander Climate Action Network hired Kara Colovich to assume the position of Greenhouse Gas Inventory Specialist to help the city do the hard work of inventorying the city’s energy usage to collect emissions data. This data, once compiled, will be used to analyze where Lander can reduce its emissions as well as save the city, and taxpayers, money. This is crucial work, and we wanted you to get to know the woman behind it! Read on to find out more about Kara.
How did you hear about the GHG inventory job? What excited you about it?
Well, I had actually been leading the greenhouse gas inventory efforts for the Energy and Environment Task Force, an advisory board for the City of Lander. As part of this, I experienced the city’s and the task force’s constraints firsthand. With help from the LOR Foundation, the Lander Climate Action Network and the task force were able to write a grant to fund a position that would be dedicated solely to working on the inventory. I applied because I was excited to invest more time into helping Lander move past those barriers and complete the inventory.
What climate work had you been involved with prior to this?
While attending the University of Montana, I enrolled in all their courses related to sustainable business practices and GHG accounting. The idea of making positive changes for the climate from within organizations, whether that be businesses, schools or governments, was really inspiring to me. I volunteered much of my time to collect data for the university’s sustainability report and participated in working groups for the City of Missoula as they set goals for their climate action plan. I knew I was hooked on this field after a summer internship with the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. This department influenced top-level strategies for city-wide transportation and energy use while also fostering local food systems and green business. After graduating college, I looked for a job with a similar focus and I found a sustainability coordinator position here in my hometown of Lander at the National Outdoor Leadership School. While leading the school’s climate efforts, I really honed in on their GHG inventory and carbon reduction strategies. More recently I’ve become a member of the E&E Task Force for the City of Lander and I still enjoy participating in LCAN’s events.
What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned so far? And/or the most rewarding part of this position?
The most rewarding part of this position is making personal connections with city staff as I learn more about the city’s operations. It’s easy to assume that the data is the most important part of the GHG inventory process, but it’s the people behind the data whose buy-in make the changes we need possible.
What does a “day in the life” look like for a GHG inventory specialist?
Great question. At this stage, it’s a lot of relationship building with city staff—especially those who have been with the city a long time. As I start to collect data on utilities, fleet vehicles, waste generation, etc. I also need to learn the story behind the numbers. For example, some of the electric meters servicing the city have old location descriptions on the bills or the use of the facility may have changed over time. The utility company does not know what that power services, only that the city draws power from the grid. I rely on the city staff’s institutional knowledge to help me understand what the site is used for and the trends that I see in the power usage data. As this inventory work progresses, the job will shift more towards identifying trends in data, forecasting strategies for carbon reduction, and educating city staff and the public about the city’s carbon footprint.
What are your hopes for the use of the final product?
Since this is the first GHG inventory conducted for Lander, I hope that the baseline we establish now will help guide future inventories so that we can monitor changes year after year. Another intended use for this inventory is to provide all parties coming into the climate action planning process with the same information so that everyone starts with a similar level of understanding. With the data in hand, participants will be able to make informed decisions about how we prioritize our next steps.
What’s one of the things you like most about Lander? Or that you find special?
Where to begin! One of the things that grounds me in Lander versus other places I’ve lived is my family history here. I still occasionally meet people who knew my relatives from generations ago or I’ll read an article at the museum that mentions them, and it makes me reflect on how this place we all love has evolved over the years and yet some things remain the same. Having a historical connection to this place makes me invested in its bright future.