For Release: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
DEC Recognized 5 Innovative Programs Working to Sustain NY's Resources and Strengthen the Economy
Winners Announced at the 8th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards
Five organizations were recognized for innovative and environmentally sound projects today at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's 8th Annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony. The winning programs are achieving energy efficiency, involving students and communities in composting and helping to revitalize an urban center.
The awards ceremony was part of the Healthy Economy & Environment Conference which focuses on how businesses, government, not-for-profits, researchers, academia and advocacy groups can be innovative and collaborative to drive a stronger economy in New York.
DEC established the awards program in 2004 to recognize innovation, sustainability and creative partnerships that achieve exceptional environmental, social and economic benefits for New York. A statewide review committee, made up of 18 representatives from public and private sectors, provided DEC advice in selecting the award winners from an array of applications received in May.
The 2011 winners include:
University at Albany's "You've Got the Power to Conserve" Program (Albany County)
The University at Albany (UAlbany) implemented a comprehensive, low-cost energy conservation program (link in the right column) that includes a wide variety of activities to educate students and promote environmentally responsible action by the entire campus community. As a signatory to the American College and University's President's Climate Commitment, UAlbany is demonstrating leadership and ingenuity. For example, at the on-campus apartment complex, residents receive mock electricity bills which are generated using the apartment's unique infrastructure that monitors electricity consumption of each apartment. The students are given information on their electric usage and what the bill would be if they were paying for their energy. A monetary incentive is given to apartments with the lowest energy consumption and to those with the greatest efficiency improvements. Students, faculty and staff volunteer as "Energy Police" and issue "Energy Tickets" to those who are not being energy conscious. This unique energy conservation program is achieving significant environmental benefits. UAlbany has already reduced CO2 emissions from 71,152 metric tons to 63,351 metric tons (11 percent), reduced electricity use by over 5 million kWh (a 7.5% decline), reduced heating use of more than 33,500 MMBtu (a 7.4 percent reduction) and saved 1.1 million gallons of water. From its inception, the program has achieved an annual savings of $701,025.
The Dryden Central School District's "Go Green" Program (Tompkins County)
The Dryden Central School District turned its grassroots recycling program into one of the most comprehensive recycling and composting programs in New York state. This outstanding district-wide program involves all 1,900 students and 380 faculty and staff. Elementary students oversee the waste separation process in the cafeterias. Members of the middle and high school's Sustainability Club administer a program that provides community homeowners with a free home energy profile report and suggestions for improving energy efficiency. The district is removing and composting 103 tons of food waste and recycling 7.6 tons of milk and juice cartons instead of sending the waste to a landfill. This has achieved a savings of almost $5,000.
Uniland Development Company's Adaptive Reuse Project (Erie County)
Uniland Development took an innovative approach to redevelop the 405,000 square foot former Dulski Federal Building. The property, located in the core of Buffalo's central business district, was falling into a blighted condition. Uniland pursued an adaptive reuse strategy and converted the structure into Buffalo's first mixed-use high-rise, creating a vertical community of hospitality, residential and office space known now as the Avant. The project was completed in 2009 and the Avant has become the cornerstone of Buffalo's renaissance as a great city. Uniland's commitment to sustainable reuse included refurbishing rather than replacing nine high-speed elevators, installing low-flow fixtures to reduce water consumption, using trees and shrubs for shade and air purification, and using energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems. This has resulted in an annual reduction of approximately 1,400 tons of CO2 emissions. During the construction phase, more than 7,200 tons of clean material was recycled or reused by other construction projects.
The University of Rochester's Go Green! Conserve and Save Program (Monroe County)
The "Go Green! Conserve and Save" program has resulted in a better educated and involved campus community. In 2008, University of Rochester's president formed the Council on Sustainability to spearhead new initiatives and achieve tangible results. The university is taking innovative steps to make a difference. It is the first New York college or university to join the "Pride of NY" program to buy locally grown foods. Currently, approximately 20 percent of the food purchased by Dining Services is produced or processed in New York state including a student-run garden that supplies vegetables and herbs. The university promotes recycling by supplying and managing a variety of bins. Each year, residence halls compete in the "UR Unplugged" program to see which one can achieve the greatest energy reductions. The university partners with local charities during the "Move Out & Clean Out" program to collect and donate clothing, shoes, furniture and food. As a result of this diverse program, University of Rochester has prevented nearly 95 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, reduced electricity use by more than 6.5 million kWh, saved nearly 8 million gallons of water and diverted almost 4,000 tons of waste from being landfilled.
Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency's Municipal Food Waste Composting Project (Onondaga County)
By using an efficient composting technique called Extended Aerated Static Piles, the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA) composts food waste in a fraction of the time and with fewer energy inputs compared to traditional windrow systems. This approach saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. A partnership with Syracuse University (SU) adds nearly seven tons per week of pre-consumer food waste from seven SU dining halls. In 2010, Syracuse University diverted more than 137 tons of food waste from its waste stream, saving more than $4,500 in tip fee expenses. As part of the composting effort, OCRRA reaches out to nearly 150,000 households with information about the compost sites, fees and useful tips for homeowners. A unique online service connects county residents with professionals who offer assistance and answer questions. OCRRA also, upon request, provides compost education and training to the county's schools. This project serves as an environmentally sound, cost-effective model for municipalities. The program is generating jobs, reducing disposal costs and helping New York state achieve it's "beyond waste" goals and objectives.
For additional information about the program, past winners and applying for an environmental excellence award, visit DEC's Web site.