Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence were presented on Wednesday to honor five recipients for extraordinary initiatives in protecting the environment.
“It is an honor to celebrate the recipients of this year’s Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence,” said Thomas Easterly, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). “Their outstanding projects and success stories inspire us to take action that will help protect Hoosiers and our environment.”
IDEM Deputy Assistant Commissioner Niles Parker and IDEM Program Coordinator Sara C. Trobridge presented the awards during the Association for Indiana Solid Waste Management Districts’ Annual Conference, October 2 and 3, in Bloomington, Indiana.
These are the categories and the recipients:
· Clay Township Regional Waste District (CTRWD), Carmel, Hamilton County, “Can the Grease.” The remarkable outreach and education program created by CTRWD is aimed at increasing awareness about the impacts residents have on the environment through improper fats, oils, and grease (FOG) disposal. The program includes spreading awareness through festivals, schools, WWTP tours, and monthly billing inserts. Along with educating the public about the impacts of FOG, CTRWD also provides free promotional grease-related products to help facilitate the easy disposal of FOG at home. CTRWD benefits by creating environmental awareness in the community and creating substantial savings in reduced maintenance costs.
· Michigan City Area Schools/Krueger Middle School, Michigan City, La Porte County, “Science in the Sun.” Science in the Sun outdoor learning center is a reality today due to the extraordinary vision of Krueger Middle School administrators, teachers and students. The transformation of the 100 acre wooded area next to Trail Creek began when then Principal Martha Birkholz and Vera Jones, the Assistant Principal at the time, saw an opportunity for their building to become more environmentally focused. School administrators, teachers and several local organizations, including Purdue University North Central, Save the Dunes, LaPorte County SWCD, the Sanitary District of Michigan City, and the Michigan City Forester, worked together to develop a curriculum that exceeds Indiana Academic Standards. They involved the school’s 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in clearing and building trail systems and birdhouses, constructing learning stations, learning the curriculum for the stations, presenting lessons to younger students, and hosting field trips for visiting schools. The school noted an increase in the percentage of sixth graders who passed their ISTEP science test last year and a marked decrease in disciplinary issues with students involved in the program. The outdoor lab features the Bird Habitat Trail, the Forest Management Area, and a Savannah Prairie. Work on a Wetlands Area is scheduled to begin this fall. The community is welcome to explore the trails.
Greening the Government:
· City of Indianapolis, Marion County, “Sustainable Facilities Initiative.” Through its Sustainable Facilities Initiative, the City of Indianapolis has made an extraordinary commitment to retrofitting 61 city-owned facilities, yielding significant decreases in electricity and water usage. High efficiency heating and cooling systems, programmable thermostats, and tankless water heaters have been installed at 28 fire stations and 13 parks facilities. Based on a review of energy usage data, improvements are expected to save taxpayers more than $301,000 per year in lower utility costs. Other installations will include weather stripping, high efficiency lighting, water saving toilets and fixtures, and door replacements to provide greater insulation. As the initiative continues, the full scope of the energy cost savings will be realized. The energy cost savings for the City-County Building alone is expected to be $750,000 annually for the next 15 years. The Sustainable Facilities Initiative is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, along with private funding.
· Armour-Eckrich Meats, LLC, Peru, Miami County, “Solid Waste Management – Zero Landfill Project.” The intent of the solid waste minimization project was to reduce solid waste generation, increase recycling, and obtain ‘Zero Landfill’ status as defined by the parent company, Smithfield Foods. Armour-Eckrich Meats, LLC expanded its recycling program from cardboard, metals and paper to include a wide array of salvageable materials such as asphalt shingles, rubber boots, hard hats, oven belts, ear plugs, plastic sleeves, and brown and white grease. Items that cannot be recycled or sold for reuse are compacted on-site and trucked to a facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, which incinerates the refuse to generate electricity. Employees are involved in the project by helping ensure recyclable materials are placed in proper containers, training fellow workers on the recycling program, and working with the facility’s janitorial staff and leadership team to build employee support and participation. As a result of this company-wide commitment, the Peru plant saw a 110 percent increase in recycling from fiscal year 2012 to 2013, received more than $90,000 in recycling income, and saved more than $40,000 in solid waste disposal fees. Finally, and equally important, the company achieved zero landfill status, with no waste going to the landfill in 2012, compared with 999 tons in 2008.
· Manchester Tank & Equipment, Elkhart, Elkhart County, “Powder Paint & Packaging Reuse.” Manchester Tank & Equipment-Elkhart has a history of encouraging all employees to get involved in pollution prevention by suggesting ways to reduce waste materials and increase recycling. Two unique initiatives launched in 2011, to reuse packaging and paint waste, reflect the company’s extraordinary commitment to the environment. First, the facility began working with local customers on a program to collect, return, and reuse packaging items. Cardboard sleeves, wood pallets, wood spacers, wood raggle sticks, and cardboard spacers were all brought back to the facility and reused for future shipments. In a separate initiative, employees resolved pricing, logistics, quality, and ease-of-use issues to close the loop on waste generated in its painting process. Mixed color powder paint waste is not hazardous or expensive to dispose of, and its re-use is not common in the industry; however, top managers and paint booth operators alike supported the idea of collaborating with a powder paint vendor to have the company’s scrap powder paint blended into its standard ECO Gray color. Today, the facility meets 42 percent of its own gray paint requirements by purchasing ECO Gray powder paint made from its own scrap paint. Together, the packaging and powder paint initiatives have diverted about 83,000 pounds of waste materials from the landfill and saved about $30,000. Of the 3 million plus pounds of waste generated at the facility in 2012, more than 89 percent was recycled or re-used. Compared to 2006, the facility sends 250,000 pounds less waste to the landfill each year.
The awards are 100 percent recycled glass, made in the United States.
The Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence recognizes Indiana’s leaders who identify and implement innovative environmental practices into their programs. It is open to all Indiana facilities, state and local units of government, individuals, and technical assistance organizations. Five additional environmental excellence awards were presented during the16th Annual Pollution Prevention Conference and Trade Show held on September 25 and 26 at The Palms Banquet and Conference Center, in Plainfield, Indiana.
For more information about the Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence, visit www.idem.IN.gov/prevention/2358.htm. IDEM will soon be making nomination forms available for the 2014 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards. Organizations, businesses, and individuals will have until April 18, 2014, to submit nominations for projects completed in 2012 and 2013.
IDEM (www.idem.IN.gov) implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment.