Poonam Boparai is an Ascent principal and the firm’s San Diego office director. She has over 12 years of experience in the public and private sectors conducting air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) analyses and climate action planning. She possesses a unique skill set that combines technical expertise with a keen understanding of planning and environmental policy. She has successfully applied her expertise in assisting agencies such as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego Unified Port District, and County of San Diego with air quality and climate change policy development, analysis methodologies, GHG reduction strategies, and development of GHG thresholds of significance. A long-time resident of San Diego, Poonam has in-depth knowledge of the local planning and environmental landscape and has helped multiple clients navigate the dynamic regulatory framework in CEQA and climate action planning.
Her experience includes the following:
- Managed and prepared hundreds of technical air quality and GHG/climate change studies for CEQA and NEPA documents.
- Led award-winning projects, including the SANDAG Regional Climate Action Planning Framework (ReCAP), Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan, and City of Encinitas Climate Action Plan (CAP).
- Worked with 16 local cities in the San Diego region to develop CAPs, implementation plans for CAPs, and monitoring tools and frameworks for measuring progress.
- Led the development of CAP consistency checklists for streamlining GHG analysis of projects for the City of San Diego, City of Carlsbad, and County of San Diego. The checklists have been successful in eliminating the need for project-by-project analyses, thereby saving valuable public resources.
- Assisted the County of San Diego, San Diego Unified Port District, and County of Santa Barbara with the development of GHG thresholds for CEQA analyses.
- Serving as the County of San Diego’s resident air quality and climate change expert for over a decade, providing policy guidance on the changing regulatory environment and case law while balancing the multiple factors that determine public agencies’ decision-making.
- Worked on the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association’s landmark effort developing analytical methods and mitigation strategies for its guide on CEQA and climate change.
- Conducted numerous health risk assessments across California.
- Led and participated in more than a dozen presentations on climate change planning and GHG analyses, including the Association of Environmental Professionals Advanced CEQA workshop and annual California American Planning Association and Association of Environmental Professionals conferences.
Poonam enjoys developing lasting relationships with clients and colleagues beyond project work, which makes coming to work a fun prospect every day. She is a self-confessed bookworm who appreciates the public library network, and she is equally passionate about her family, raising a toddler and an infant with élan (on most days). She, along with her husband, can be found cheering on their son during weekend soccer and swim classes and trying to teach valuable life lessons about teamwork (sometimes unsuccessfully).