What sustainability means to Perry Edman: environmental compliance and data sharing

If there is somebody who will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it is Perry Edman. Sustainability has always been a big part of his life, both personally and professionally.

Edman is RTD’s Environmental Compliance Officer for commuter rail operations, working on developing and implementing policy to help make the forthcoming N Line compliant with environmental regulations.

Growing up in Minnesota, Edman spent a lot of time outdoors. You could often find him fishing, canoeing the St. Croix River or getting lost in the wilderness. This love for the outdoors led to him earning a degree in Natural Resource Management from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

It also led to him moving to Colorado where he and his wife are raising their two small children to be happy, healthy and good stewards of the land.

When he leaves home each morning, he jumps on his bike and rides to RTD. On any given day, he monitors environmental rulemakings in order to develop and implement strategic direction, goals, plans and policies for commuter rail--for example, Edman must provide oversight of RTD's efforts along the North Metro Rail Line, other commuter rail corridors and planning projects. He provides environmental support and guidance to other divisions throughout the company. Edman also works closely with other organizations including the Army Corps of Engineers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Federal Transit Administration on various environmental programs. 

Before his current position, he conducted environmental work in RTD’s planning department. He coordinated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) activities, worked on the State Highway 119 Planning and Environmental Linkage Study and got a head start on N Line activities.

But what is it about sustainability that drives him? 

“It’s the right thing to do,” he says while smiling. 

He sees the future of sustainability at RTD being one where green technologies are widespread. Decisions will be made that balance environmental impact with equity and economic considerations. Sustainability will be by choice and because RTD decision makers feel it is the right thing to do (e.g., increased quality of life, health benefits and respect for our natural resources), not because it was mandated. He believes RTD has the potential to be a public transit sustainability leader.

In order to get there, government agencies need to share Denver area sustainability data so they can learn from each other and increase efficiency of decision making. Edman, a natural communicator, does his part by being an active member of RTD’s Sustainability Committee, serving as RTD’s representative for the development of the Denver 80x50 Climate Action Plan, and working to make the release of RTD’s sustainability information more timely.

“Colorado is a progressive, green state. Let’s be a leader,” he says enthusiastically.

In the interim, Edman will use sustainability as the driver for making impactful changes at RTD while he and his family will also continue to enjoy all that Colorado has to offer through cycling, skiing, golfing and canoeing.

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