U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Contact: EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010
(Boston, Mass. – April 25, 2012) – Twenty-four environmental awards will be given to Massachusetts environmental groups, individuals, businesses, nonprofit and government agencies today in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presented its annual Environmental Merit Awards for 2012.
The merit awards, recognizing valuable contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, are a unique way that EPA can recognize individuals and groups that are making significant impacts on environmental quality in distinct ways.
Awarded by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew nearly 100 nominations from across New England.
Awards were given in the following categories: individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Each year, EPA also may present lifetime achievement awards for individuals.
"Congratulations to all of our 2012 Environmental Merit Award recipients. These awards are close to my heart because they acknowledge the importance of environmental stewardship,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "As stewards, all of these recipients are making real and lasting differences in communities across our beautiful region. Whether it's finding innovative ways to safeguard our water resources or conserving the energy our communities use each day, each individual has advanced our mission to protect human health and the environment."
More information on all Environmental Merit Award Winners from this year and past years is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region1/ra/ema/index.html
The Environmental Merit Award Winners from Massachusetts are:
Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award:
Richard J. Chalpin
Paul Epstein, M.D.
Kenneth R. Geiser, Ph.D.
Matthew E. Goode
Individual Environmental Merit Award:
Amy S. Cannon
Enviro, Community, Academia & Nonprofit Environmental Merit Award
Alliance for Climate Education, Somerville, Mass.
Buzzards Bay Coaltion, New Bedford, Mass.
BizNGO is a non-profit environmental organization that works to protect consumers from toxic chemicals. Also known as the Business-NGO Working Group, this organization promotes creation and use of safer chemicals and sustainable materials in a way that supports a healthy economy, healthy environment, and healthy people. The organization released two important frameworks to help companies choose more sustainable plastics and safer chemicals for their products: 1) The Principles for Sustainable Plastics, and 2) Chemical Alternatives Assessment Protocol (v.1.0): How to Select Safer Alternatives to Chemicals of Concern to Human Health or the Environment. This represents the collective work of Mark Rossi, Chair and vital member of the New England Green Chemistry Initiative, and his colleagues. Together they are working to advance safer chemicals and materials in consumer products. These two documents are the result of dedication and an ability to help business to business communication and cooperation. BizNGO also runs annual two-day conferences at sites around New England. The assessment and evaluation tools provided by BizNGO will help companies identify hazardous chemicals along the entire supply chain and will guide them in choosing safer alternatives. This lifecycle approach encourages sustainability and contributes to the public health and environmental protection in an economically sustainable way.
Harwich Conservation Trust
The non-profit Harwich Conservation Trust established the “Save Land – Save Water Initiative” to preserve key lands that protect water resources in Chatham and Harwich. This nomination recognizes the local land trust’s ability to forge public-private partnerships and preserve critical land known as the Mill Pond Woodlands to protect public drinking water. The trust led the effort to coordinate with the land seller, town committees, boards, and state officials to get $2 million in public funding to buy land for water protection. The trust also wrote a land management plan, which was approved by both Chatham and Harwich. It specified that recreation on this preserved land will be limited to passive pursuits like walking and nature study. In 2011, the trust’s work resulted in the Town of Harwich buying half of the land and the Town of Chatham buying the other half. Meanwhile, the state Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs and the state Department of Environmental Protection each donated $500,000. To ensure permanent land protection, the Harwich Conservation Trust and Chatham Conservation Foundation jointly hold a conservation restriction on the entire 38.7-acre tract that links to another 235 acres of open space. Preserving this tract helps protect the water quality of 11 municipal well sites serving about 20,000 homes. The Harwich Conservation Trust’s collaboration with two towns, two state agencies, and a sister land trust showed how well it can foster a strong public-private partnership around the goal of preserving land.
Health Care Without Harm
Health Care Without Harm, dedicated to helping create a more ecologically sustainable healthcare industry, consistently has been a leading advocate for green chemistry in the healthcare industry, locally and nationally. The organization, with Gary Cohen as its founder and executive director, was a major force behind the decision of one of the country’s largest healthcare providers to convert its intravenous equipment to more eco-friendly alternatives. This equipment is now free of two chemicals shown to harm humans and the environment. Health Care Without Harm is also actively engaged in supporting green chemistry research with academic and other partners to identify safer alternatives in hospital research laboratories and in finding bio-polymers to replace petroleum-based products in the healthcare sector. It is instrumental in advancing the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a coalition of major health systems and organizations committed to improving sustainability and safety across the healthcare sector. Bill Ravanesi, regional director, helps New England hospitals in toxicity and waste reduction, green building services, energy efficiency and climate change programs, focusing on sustainability and resiliency. He is responsible for organizing program development and implementation, legislative and regulatory advocacy and policy reform initiatives and has engaged hospitals all over New England in adopting new ways of doing business that meet the challenge of environmental responsibility.
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the regional planning agency for 101 cities and towns in the Boston area, periodically updates its plan addressing issues such as transportation, housing and the environment. A few years ago, the council came up with a plan that would help reshape how Greater Boston will develop over the next 25 years. More than 5,000 people from the region worked on the plan, titled MetroFuture. In a massive effort, the council staff showed thousands of people the sprawling growth into the fields and forests that would result if the region continued to grow on the same trajectory as it had been since the 1950s. It also showed the historic under-investment in historic downtowns and town centers in the past. This development pattern has led to river and stream contamination, more air pollution and greater obesity as people drive farther, walk or bike less. The council presented the alternative: development of areas served by transit systems and close to jobs, shops and schools. The council’s plan, adopted in 2008, calls for conserving areas with significant natural, scenic, agricultural and recreational value. In recognition of the strength and promise of MetroFuture, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2010 awarded the council $4 million to help them work with communities to put the plan in place. The environmental benefits of this plan include cleaner air, water and land as well as healthier residents of Greater Boston.
The New England Consortium
University of Massachusetts – Lowell
The New England Consortium trains workers in hazardous waste operations, emergency response, and health and safety. Since 1987, this partnership between the community and the Center for Health Promotion and Research at UMass/Lowell has trained more than 27,000 workers in 1,700 courses. In 2011, the consortium held 145 courses with 21,985 hours of instruction in its core training program. It also provided open enrollment and custom trainings for public and private sector firms, regulatory officials and organizations, and job training programs. It partnered with EPA New England to offer training to New England’s Native American tribes. The consortium is one of 20 national programs administered by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Worker Education Training Program. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the consortium for two years trained 1027 people, including municipal and state workers on transportation, construction and other infrastructure projects, employees in green energy start-up firms, and people in job training programs who were likely to be interviewed for Superfund cleanup projects or for jobs in green energy. The project served job training programs in New Bedford, Worcester, Holyoke and Hartford, Conn. Finally, the consortium developed a training curriculum that gave workers and environmental activists the tools to advocate for green chemistry and for safer alternatives to reduce toxic contamination.
Ferdi L. Hellweger
Ferdi Hellweger of Northeastern University has done as much as almost anyone to further understanding of bacterial contamination of the Charles and Muddy rivers. Since he arrived in Boston in 2004, Ferdi has focused the research of many graduate students on solving the impediments to swimming in the Charles River Basin. He also began an undergraduate research group to focus on the Charles, and for several summers has included high school students and teachers in the research. After gathering high-resolution surveys of fecal bacteria in the Charles Basin, he applied his modeling skills to show how all of the bacterial results could be modeled from a single contaminated input at the Muddy River/Stony Brook confluence with the Charles. He made this model into a presentation video which in two minutes adeptly explains the complexity of this contamination. Ferdi’s use of YouTube, blogs, online photo albums, and other new media are doing much to popularize environmental engineering and draw more young scientists into this exciting field. In 2011 alone, Ferdi published a major paper on the Muddy River monitoring for the Muddy River Project Oversight Committee, and conducted extensive bacterial monitoring in support of possible swimming sites for the Charles River Conservancy.
Mr. Wells’ 4th Grade Class
The students in Ted Wells’ 4th grade class loved the classic Dr. Seuss story The Lorax; however, when they saw that the movie promotion from Universal Studios lacked enough of an environmental message, they launched the “Lorax Petition Project” on Change.org and gathered more than 50,000 signatures. As a result, Universal changed The Lorax web page almost exactly as requested by the students at Park School - even using the Truffala tree image for a button and linking the Green Tips Random House page. In addition, Universal now has some environmental partnerships developing with Scholastic Lessons, the AdCouncil, a U.S. Forest Service “get outside” public service announcement and two other projects with Whole Foods and Seventh Generation. The fourth graders at Park School rallied 57,000 people and groups, including such celebrities as Ed Norton and musicians such as 30 Seconds to Mars and Solving for X!, who know the meaning of “Unless”. In addition, they made posters, wrote a script in Dr. Seuss’ style and shot a video. They learned many lessons along the way, including the fact that they can make a difference. As stated in The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better, it’s not.”
Product Stewardship Institute
The Product Stewardship Institute, a national organization, was created to fundamentally change waste management systems. Consumers use hundreds of products daily, many of which designed to become obsolete in a few years. The emerging product stewardship movement tries to ensure that those who manufacture, sell and use consumer products take responsibility for reducing the impacts. The Product Stewardship Institute was founded in 2000 through an agreement with the state and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. It works with governments and organizations in New England to develop a regional approach to product stewardship. The institute laid groundwork for passage of legislation in the region, and it helped develop Maine’s cutting edge law in 2006 regarding mercury thermostats. This law resulted in one of the highest per-capita rates of collection of thermostats in the country. Laws modeled on Maine’s law were passed in Vermont and Rhode Island, along with six other states nationally. Maine also passed the nation’s first product stewardship legislation for mercury lighting. Facilitated by the Institute, Connecticut’s 2011 paint stewardship law was the third law in the country that resulted from a national agreement between paint manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, and other key stakeholders. This law is expected to save Connecticut up to $7 million per year and recover up to 880,000 gallons of leftover paint, much of which will be turned into new paint by a recycled paint manufacturer that plans to move to Connecticut because of the new law. The Product Stewardship Institute has been at the center of the nation’s electronics recycling for 10 years. In addition, the organization promotes the use of voluntary recycling programs for rechargeable batteries, mercury thermostats, mercury lamps electronics, cell phones, and pharmaceuticals and has partnered with Catalog Choice, an online service that allows residents to opt-out of receiving unwanted catalogs, phone books, and junk mail.
The Regional Environmental Council
The Regional Environmental Council has been working since 2005 to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Worcester. In 2006, it was selected by local community partner organizations and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to coordinate the Worcester Green and Healthy Homes Coalition with funding from the Department of Public Health. The coalition now includes 30 partners from diverse sectors, including municipal and state agencies, landlord and tenant associations, neighborhood health centers, refugee resettlement and affordable housing agencies, and grassroots community-based organizations representing Worcester’s Latino, Southeast Asian and African communities. Through the coalition, the Regional Environmental Council has educated and organized the community throughout Worcester to educate and empower residents, with a special focus on highest-risk neighborhoods. It has reached more than 35,000 residents, conducted over 1,600 outreach events and brought substantial new resources to the city to help create healthy and affordable housing. In partnership with the city, these two organizations have received three grants totaling about $9 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to abate 600 units of housing. The coalition is subcontracted by the City of Worcester through the Regional Environmental Council to conduct all outreach, education, and marketing programs for this grant in high-risk neighborhoods and among highest-risk communities. Through their efforts, Worcester is on track to exceed the 600-unit goal. The council has contributed to dramatic reductions in elevated blood lead levels for children under age 6 in Worcester, a challenge worthy of recognition.
Worcester Business Development Corporation
The Worcester Business Development Corporation has adapted its mission to fit the changing economy. From industrial parks to science parks to brownfields, this organization has found innovative ways to use contaminated and blighted properties in ways that can benefit the community. Along with New Garden Park, its charitable arm, the development corporation has created thousands of jobs and generated millions of dollars in annual taxes. The recent Voke School Project involved the cleanup and redevelopment of the abandoned Worcester Vocational High School, which is under agreement for construction of 84 units of mixed income housing. This 11-acre mixed-use development called Gateway Park will be a “gateway” for the community’s emerging biotechnology and life sciences industry. The project is expected to create more than 2000 jobs and add $6.6 million to the city’s tax base. At another project located at 75 Quinsigamond Ave., the WBCD successfully secured the funding needed to remediate the petroleum contamination and demolish the building so that the former abandoned bakery building could be turned into a private development site. The development corporation’s success continues with the newly acquired Worcester Telegram and Gazette building on Franklin Street, where a master plan for the area is underway in partnership with the city. All together, more than $300 million in investments have been brought to the city and surrounding communities through the corporation’s projects, resulting in renewed social, environmental and economic vitality and improving the quality of life for this disproportionately impacted and economically challenged area.
Governmental Environmental Merit Award
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Natural Resources Department
When the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe formed its Natural Resources Department in March 2008, water quality was the most pressing environmental problem of nearby waterways, including the Popponesset Bay. Three years earlier, the bay had seen a major fish kill as a result of nutrient overload. The tribe viewed the fish kill as imminent threat to their traditional way of life. With grant funding, the Natural Resources Department planted 200,000 oyster seeds in 2009 in partnership with the Town of Mashpee and developed a bay restoration project. This was just one of the many accomplishments of the tribe’s Natural Resources Department that merit recognition. With help from water quality partners, the department also collected water quality data that led to improved water quality and inspired other communities to develop large aquaculture projects in similar estuarine systems. The environmental health and quality of the bay waters has stopped declining, an indicator of the success of the oyster farming operation thus far. The department also sought to establish a biomass environment in the bay big enough to sustain a wild population of oysters, since wild oysters had been absent for a decade. There is evidence now of a wild oyster population in the bay. The Natural Resources Department’s commitment to Popponesset Bay by way of this innovative and sustainable environmental project is a monumental achievement.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Massachusetts National Cemetery
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs operates the 750-acre Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts and irrigates 117 acres with the Cape Cod Aquifer, using water and energy. It now irrigates 117 acres with 30 million gallons a year of water from the groundwater treatment system at adjacent Otis Air National Guard Base instead of direct use of the aquifer. It also installed a 50-kilowatt wind turbine in 2011 to provide electricity for irrigation pumping and a new administration building. The wind turbine provides 100% of the energy for the irrigation system and will provide all energy for their new administration building. It is the first large wind turbine for the VA, and may be the first Net-Zero energy use building in the department. Contaminated groundwater from Otis passes through activated carbon filters before cemetery irrigation use. Normally, it is placed back into the aquifer though trenches and a well. It is the largest turf irrigation reuse of Air Force’s reclaimed water and is used as an example at their training conferences and outreach activities. The life of the groundwater treatment system corresponds to total water savings of approximately 1.8 billion gallons over the life of the system. The water used would have cost $180,000/year from their potable drinking water provider, or $6.3 million over the life of the system. The project illustrated cooperation between three federal agencies and one state agency to reduce potable water use through reuse of reclaimed water. It also exceeds the 26% potable water reduction requirement of the Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance Executive Order and is 10 years ahead of schedule for this goal. The 50-kilowatt wind turbine is the largest wind turbine installed in the VA to date and will be the model for smaller wind turbines at VA Medical Centers and other cemeteries. The new 2,500 square foot administration building under design features minimal energy use and high efficiency heat pumps to minimize energy use, and the wind turbine should be able to provide power for both the irrigation system and the administration building.
Business, Industry, Trade or Professional Environmental Merit Award
Cape Air is one of the largest independent regional airlines in the country. The company has been conscious of its impact since it was founded by Dan Wolf in 1989. Making more than 850 flights a day and carrying almost 650,000 customers a year, Cape Air is making a global impact. Together with its local utility, Cape Light Compact, the company aims to reduce its electricity footprint by 25 percent and outlined steps to convert its headquarters to net-zero energy-use. The insulation of an on-site 258-kilowatt solar system continues to outperform its predictions – generating 121, 202 kilowatt hours and offsetting 209,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, while producing nearly 90 percent of the building’s electricity. Outside its Massachusetts hub, Cape Air’s Essential Air Service department in Vermont supports cow power – a methane gas from local farms. Thanks to local agriculture, this form of green energy makes up 25 percent of the annual terminal electrical bill and 100 percent of the airport’s rescue equipment. Cape Air’s innovative green initiatives also reach customers and employees. In August 2011, the airline distributed 2,550 compact fluorescent bulbs to 850 employees to reduce energy consumption. At the community base, Cape Air is involved with True2o, Housing Assistance Corporation’s Community Green Project, Habitat for Humanity and other environmental organizations. The company’s work to protect the environment and save money benefits clients, employees and the community.
OMNOVA Solutions Inc.
OMNOVA Solutions, an upholstery fabrics and laminates company in Framingham, Mass,. embraces the triple bottom line to consider the people, planet, and profit while doing business. The company’s commitment to sustainable technology and design are outlined in Vision 2014, an initiative to reduce the environmental impact of operations and increase the use of sustainable products. New features and marketing measures include bio-based and recycled content, reduced VOC emissions, product reclamation programs and reduced packaging materials. The company also has pledged to reduce its total energy consumption by 25 percent or more over the next 10 years. These voluntary measures deliver energy efficiencies, hazardous waste and material scrap reductions, and recycling measures. The company, which has under 30 employees, is involved in projects like the state-funded Wachusett Rail Service Project, where it will provide the land necessary to the city of Fitchburg to create a commuter rail terminal serving some 250 passengers daily. Additionally, this project will restore rail service to the industrial park allowing OMNOVA to reduce truck traffic by 400 loads per year and diesel fuel consumption by 12,000 gallons. The company’s effort to pursue sustainable goals can be seen in its provision of more than $27,000 a year since 1998 to local educational, health and welfare, and civic organizations.
Proctor & Gamble
Proctor & Gamble is the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world. To grow responsibly and solve environmental challenges at a local and global level, the company has developed sustainability goals for 2012 and 2020 with an additional “Long Term Sustainability Vision” for products and operations. Through these efforts, the company hopes to use less water, waste, energy, and carbon dioxide for each unit of production. Over the past two years, the company’s sustainability teams ave done 26 projects that have dramatically changed the company’s Gillette facility in South Boston. A new 7.2-megawatt gas turbine generates the majority of on-site electricity, increasing efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Commuting employees have access to electric vehicle charging stations and parking lots are lighted with solar LED lights. With recent retrofits, the company saves more than 10 million kilowatt hours and nearly 2.8 million gallons of water a year. Internally, the Green @ Work Team increased recycling efforts by promoting composting, recycling, or incinerating materials for energy recovery. Gillette now achieves a 91 percent recycling rate for non-hazardous waste, 99.5 percent beneficial reuse rate for all solid waste, and composts about three to four tons of compost a month. Proctor & Gamble also partnered with BeGreen Packaging, a cradle-to-cradle packaging industry, which led to a 57 percent reduction in plastic, 20 percent decrease in weight, and 100 percent removal of toxic polyvinyl chlorides (PVC). As a leader in brand name packaged goods, Proctor & Gamble is setting a high standard for corporate sustainability.
More information on EPA’s Environmental Merit Awards in New England (http://www.epa.gov/region1/ra/ema/index.html)
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