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Allegheny County environmental chief Zappa takes job with nonprofit

| Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, 10:34 a.m.
Conservation Consultants Inc. appointed Jeaneen Zappa as executive director.

Allegheny County's environmental chief is leaving her position halfway toward a goal of reducing the county's greenhouse gas footprint by 20 percent.

Jeaneen Zappa, 47, of Shaler will step down as sustainability manager to become the executive director of Conservation Consultants Inc., a South Side nonprofit that helps low-income families reduce their natural gas and electric usage and lower their bills.

“We have momentum,” Zappa said of the county's efforts to reduce energy usage. “We are progressing steadily to do things that have less of an environmental footprint and that will save us money.”

Appointed by former County Executive Dan Onorato in 2009, Zappa started a recycling program and worked on projects to better manage carbon emissions and water usage.

In 2010, Onorato set a goal of reducing the county's greenhouse gas footprint 20 percent by 2015. Looking at a report on Thursday, she said the county had lowered its footprint by about 10 percent.

“I had hope we would be further ahead,” she said. “Initially, we thought we would be able to do more things at the beginning.”

The first phase of lowering emissions focused on the jail and the John J. Kane Regional Center in Ross. The county is wrapping up phase two, which involved making improvements to the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, the remaining Kane centers and the courthouse, Zappa said.

Her latest project with the county was to encourage employees to participate in energy-saving efforts. This year she urged employees to turn off lights, unplug devices not in use and use shared printers.

Andrew Butcher, CEO of GTECH, a nonprofit conservation group that worked closely with Zappa, said he hopes her successor will continue to build on her work, but also collaborate with the community.

“The county, as a regional leader, has a great potential to convene stakeholders, businesses and organizations to advance sustainability priorities outside the county assets and facilities,” Butcher said.

Zappa earned $84,999.48. Spokeswoman Amie Downs said the county has not yet started to search for Zappa's replacement.

She replaces Ann Gerace at Conservation Consultants. Gerace co-founded the organization in 1988.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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