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For Release: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

DEC Recognizes Six Innovative Programs Resulting In A Healthier Environment And Stronger Economy

Winners Announced at the 11th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards Celebration

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today recognized six organizations for their innovative programs and commitment to environmental sustainability, social responsibility and economic viability at the 11th Annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards celebration, which was held at the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, SUNY Polytechnic Institute at their NanoFab South Rotunda and Auditorium in Albany.

"This year's awards recognize innovative programs, smart business decisions and unique collaborative initiatives that improve New York's environment and contribute to a stronger economy," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "These six organizations are models of excellence. They are having a positive impact on our economy and their voluntary, innovative and sustainable actions address the environmental challenges facing our communities, state, nation and the world."

The winners range from a large university's on-site solvent recycling program, to an injection molding manufacturing company that is now carbon-neutral and has reduced energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent, along with an innovative county-based initiative that helped farmers replace aging fuel tanks to help protect the drinking water source of their communities. Winners also included a high-tech company that is saving 22 million kilowatt hours of energy and avoiding 5,400 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year by installing an innovative chilled water optimization system as well as an inter-municipal coalition that has constructed or restored wetland areas which are ultimately improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay.

Commissioner Martens added, "Through the Environmental Excellence Awards, DEC is able to showcase those who are setting the example for others across New York. Presenting the awards here at the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, SUNY Polytechnic Institute is fitting because here, through the vision and leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York is setting an example of global education, research and development and technology advancements that is critical for the next generation of scientists and researchers."

DEC established the awards program in 2004 to recognize those who improve and protect New York's environment and contribute to a more healthy economy by advancing sustainable practices and forming creative partnerships. To date, DEC has recognized 60 award winners.

A statewide review committee, made up of 25 representatives from the public and private sectors, provided DEC advice in selecting the award winners from an array of competitive applications received in May, 2014.

The 11th Annual Environmental Excellence Award winners are:

Columbia University's On-Site Solvent Recycling Program (Kings County) - Columbia University is reducing its environmental footprint, reducing costs and improving the health and safety of its students and surrounding communities by implementing a multi-faceted and comprehensive on-site solvent recycling program. In the past 13 years, the program has resulted in more than 45,000 gallons of solvents being recycled with a cost savings of about $3 million. Columbia University is achieving environmental successes, reducing costs and improving the health of its campus community. This triple-bottom line approach sets a model for universities and laboratories.

Harbec Inc. Becomes Carbon-Neutral (Monroe County) - Harbec Inc. is a custom injection molding and precision component part manufacturer that has transformed from an energy-dependent business losing ground competitively to a profitable innovator producing carbon-conscious components with verifiable carbon reductions. Harbec Inc. is a state and national environmental leader; they are one of only 14 world-wide manufacturers to achieve a platinum-level certification under Department of Energy's Superior Energy Performance™ (SEP) program. Harbec has reduced energy use and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 50 percent which translates into an avoidance of almost 2,200 tons of CO2 emissions.

IBM East Fishkill's Chilled Water Optimization Project (Dutchess County) - IBM is recognized as an international leader in energy conservation and efficiency initiatives. The Chilled Water Optimization Project is another effort that demonstrates their commitment to the environment. East Fishkill, IBM's largest facility, supports the significant energy demand of semiconductor cleanroom space. This project required meticulous collaboration between all aspects of the facility's operations team because any degradation of the cleanroom environment would have significant negative impacts. The chilled water plant is among the most efficient of its type and saves almost 2.5 million kWh of energy which translates to avoiding 5,400 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. That equates to taking more than 1,000 cars off the road.

New York City's Department of Administrative Services (New York County) - The NYC Fleet Sustainability Program offers a cutting-edge model for sustainable fleet management. NYC operates the largest municipal fleet in the nation (27,000 vehicles operated through 10 main fleet agencies) and through this multi-faceted program has achieved a 9.3 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Through its leadership role, NYC has provided critical information for fleet managers nationwide. And, the City is continually advancing sustainable practices by publishing fleet procedures, assisting in the drafting of local laws and sharing information at forums, events and product demonstrations.

Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District's Fuel Tank Replacement Program (Suffolk County) - The Fuel Tank Replacement Program is a model of excellence as it demonstrates an innovative, sustainable, economically viable and socially acceptable solution to aging agricultural fuel tanks atop Long Island's sole source aquifer. Through a unique partnership, farmers were able to install new tanks that met regulatory requirements at a reduced cost. The farmers are participating in this proactive program are leaders in the agricultural industry and are setting a precedent for others to become good stewards of the environment.

Upper Susquehanna Coalition's Wetland Program (Tioga County) - The Upper Susquehanna Coalition's Wetland Program exists because of the innovative and creative partnerships involved. This program provides a comprehensive and systems approach for conserving and restoring wetlands. Over the past five years, the Coalition has constructed or restored more than 700 acres of wetlands and wetland related habitat. These wetlands are helping NY achieve its commitment to reduce nutrient sediment loads to the Chesapeake Bay.

For additional information about the program and past winners, and to learn about applying for the 2015 Environmental Excellence Awards, visit DEC's website.

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