Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DEC Seeks Environmental Excellence

Applications are now being accepted for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) 2011 Environmental Excellence Awards program. The program recognizes businesses, governments, not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, and individuals in New York State that are achieving environmental excellence through innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or partnerships.

DEC is interested in acknowledging projects that achieve significant environmental benefits through: innovative and cutting-edge pollution prevention technologies; manufacturing process improvements; initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; projects using green infrastructure practices; programs that make schools and businesses more green; energy conservation and green energy production efforts; waste reduction and recycling efforts; innovative approaches to stormwater management and watershed planning; environmental protection and restoration efforts; and land conservation.

Previous award winners have helped improve New York’s environment through initiatives that have eliminated 2.10 million pounds of hazardous waste, saved 26 million kilowatt hours of electricity; reduced water use by 15 million gallons, recycled 382.5 million pounds of solid waste, and preserved 149,000 acres of open space.

Applications for the awards must be post marked no later than Friday, May 20, 2011. Information about the award program, the application materials and information on past award winners is available on the DEC website, or by writing to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Pollution Prevention Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-1750; by phone to DEC’s Pollution Prevention Unit at (518) 402-9469; or by email to [email protected]

Examples of previous winners include:

The Golden Arrow Resort in Lake Placid instituted green programs on a variety of fronts to reduce the environmental impact not only of the hotel, but also of the traveler. The resort features a “green roof” – a rooftop expanse of native plants that provides wildlife habitat, reduces water runoff and helps keep the inn warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The limestone beach reduces the impacts of acid rain. Guest rooms feature in-room recycling, insulated windows, energy-efficient lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

Garlock Sealing Technologies of Palmyra voluntarily eliminated 119 tons of toluene emissions in the manufacturing of fiber sheet gaskets. By using a non-hazardous solvent to produce a viable product, they provided the industry with a new benchmark for environmentally responsible manufacturing practices. The new gasket is being made at a comparable price and seals even better than its solvent-containing predecessors. This has additional benefits for the environment since tighter seals mean less fugitive emissions and a healthier work environment for employees. Other highlights of this innovative pollution prevention project include a reduction of fire risk and the ability to recover and recycle over 95 percent of the non-hazardous solvent.

Monroe Industries in Livingston County exemplifies how a small, family-owned business of nine employees, can achieve environmental excellence, serve as a model of innovation and sustainability, and enter emerging markets for green products. The company custom manufactures cast-polymer countertops, shower walls and floors, and vanity tops. Traditionally these products are made with a variety of mined minerals and gemstones, such as granite and quartz and are typically mixed with a liquid polyester resin and binder. While developing the Robal Glass product line, Monroe identified a supplier of bio-based resins which resulted in a more sustainable product. This innovative product line uses 60,000 lbs. of recycled glass each year.

Town of North Hempstead was honored for a groundbreaking recycling partnership program involving 8 of the 11 school districts within the Town. More than 28,000 students have been involved with this comprehensive recycling program. Each classroom in every participating school maintains statistical records of the recyclables collected. As a result, students are becoming environmental stewards; taxpayers are saving money, school districts are receiving the benefit of a worthwhile service they otherwise would have to pay for and 279 tons of material has been diverted from landfills.

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