Better Together: Q&A with Sarah Kronholm, Principal Engineer at SLR International Corporation
The hallmark phrase: “we are better together” couldn’t be truer when addressing the environment, which is why Columbia Steel values the expertise of partners as we work towards continuous improvement. The more insight we’re able to glean, from both inside and outside of our walls, the better we can be. That’s why we invest in the expertise of organizations like SLR International Corporation who add to our already impressive team of internal experts.
Today, we’d like to highlight one member of the SLR team, Principal Engineer Sarah Kronholm, who has provided critical support in our overall permitting and compliance initiatives, while also helping us move through the Cleaner Air Oregon process. We wanted to learn more about Sarah’s valued work, so we sat down with her for a quick Q&A.
Q: What does an Environmental Engineer do?
A: We help facilities across the United States and Canada balance their goals of operational growth with achieving sustainable environmental practices in areas like air quality, stormwater, wastewater, waste, and oil pollution prevention. Every state and industry requires different approaches. For example, the West Coast often leads in environmental sustainability and improvement, which tends to create more stringent regulatory programs compared to other regions. We need to be familiar with the various states and industries to do our job well.
Q: What is your role at SLR?
A: I am the U.S. Lead for the Environmental Management, Permitting, and Compliance group, which includes a team of engineers and scientists who specialize in developing effective environmental solutions for our clients. In addition to helping businesses navigate environmental regulations, we help identify and implement best management practices to strategically grow operations while maximizing positive environmental impacts.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: We are a people-oriented service, so I spend much of my time working with both the SLR staff and clients, helping coordinate projects, and staying in touch with the teams. I am a Chemical Engineer by degree and a licensed Environmental Engineer, so I also complete technical work related to current and emerging regulations.
Q: What do you do for Columbia Steel?
A: SLR has partnered with Columbia Steel for many years to help achieve their goals of growing the business while implementing sustainable environmental programs. In addition to broad support related to things like beneficial reuse, recycling, and waste management and minimization, we are more recently assisting with the Cleaner Air Oregon program.
Q: What is the regulatory environment like in Oregon?
A: It’s constantly changing. As noted earlier, the West Coast is an environmental leader, which we often find drives more forward-thinking initiatives that are even more protective of human health and the environment. This can result in complex regulatory programs and a drive for businesses to excel in environmental stewardship.
Q: Do you have advice for companies looking to address their environmental impact?
A: We recommend companies take a proactive approach to not only compliance, but also be proactive with best management practices and environmental sustainability goals. One of the best ways to do this is to consider their environmental impact as a key component of doing business. In my experience, focusing on environmental leadership tends to serve businesses well.
Q: What about advice for people pursuing careers helping the environment?
A: There are many career paths to pursue helping the environment. The SLR team has a diverse background, including industry, regulatory agencies, academia, and nonprofit organizations. We try to work together with our clients by recognizing the need to produce consumer materials and goods, but in a way that conserves our environment and leaves a lasting positive impact. This can make for a very rewarding career.
Q: What is the best part about your job?
A: Working across different industries, stakeholder groups, and environmental needs means there’s a lot of variety and I’m always learning something new. But what I really love is working with the people. The SLR team is filled with talented and fun individuals. I also get to know my clients well and enjoy the partnerships. Our work requires a lot of collaboration and high levels of trust, and I greatly value those relationships.
A Valuable Partnership
Thanks to Sarah Kronholm for taking the time to answer our questions. We certainly appreciate the expert guidance she provides as we do our part to be good neighbors and lessen our impact on the environment.
We will continue honoring our valued partners with an upcoming piece highlighting Melanie Bocianowski with SLR, who helps us reach zero process water discharge through our stormwater recycling initiatives. Stay tuned!