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2006 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

Monroe County, Rochester

Project Name: Stormwater Coalition of Monroe County

Applicant: Monroe County, Rochester, NY

Description of Project/Benefits: Monroe County was honored for establishing the Monroe County Stormwater Coalition. This creative partnership is comprised of 27 municipal separate storm sewer system operators. They work collaboratively to improve water quality in a cost-effective manner by developing model ordinances, correcting infrastructure problems and administering a multi-faceted education and training program. Coalition members share resources and high-tech equipment which enables every municipality to make significant progress in its individualized plan to address stormwater pollution issues.

The Monroe County Stormwater Coalition serves as a model for inter-municipal stormwater coalitions throughout New York State. The work of the coalition is advanced by five task groups: Education/Public Participation; Illicit Discharges; Construction; Pollution Prevention and Funding. Some highlights include:

  • Education and public participation: Over the past three years, the coalition worked in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension to conduct 164 presentations in schools and in the community about how students and residents can reduce stormwater pollution. These sessions reached over 3,600 students and individuals. The coalition also planned and conducted a stormwater conference and trade show (attended by 400 people) which set the standard for innovative compliance and funding strategies, guidance for compliance with permit standards and highlighted emerging technologies for stormwater management.
  • The Illicit Discharges Task Group has written a model ordinance which each coalition member will adopt, in whole or in part, into existing municipal ordinances. Over the past several years, the task group has also: developed an illicit discharge detection back-tracking program for storm sewer collection systems; provided municipal training to its members and more than 75 non-member municipalities; focused on small business education for pool chemical dischargers and phosphorus sources.
  • The Construction Task Group has also written model ordinances and has coordinated with the Monroe Co. Soil & Water Conservation District for on-site inspection training for municipal staff. The Soil & Water Conservation District works closely with the coalition to review construction stormwater treatment practices.
  • The Pollution Prevention task group coordinated 15 regional collections of household hazardous waste. These collections involved 10 municipalities and served adjacent municipalities as well. A total of 804 tons of waste was diverted for proper recycling or disposal.

One of the programs developed by the coalition has focused on identifying inadvertent cross-connections in the infrastructure between sanitary and storm sewers in the Rochester area. The program identified 21 cross-connections and repair efforts are underway. This program has had a significant environmental benefit - 6 million gallons/year of waste was removed from the stormwater system. When all connections are repaired, over 7 million gallons of sanitary waste will no longer flow directly into the Genesee River.

Rochester City School District

Project Name: Professionally Assisted Energy Management and Conservation in the Rochester City Schools District

Applicant: Rochester City School District, Rochester, NY (Monroe County)

Description of Project/Benefits: The Rochester City School District (RCSD), Rochester, Monroe County, was honored for its commitment to improve energy efficiency through an innovative and fiscally sound energy management program. Concurrently, the district advanced the education of sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable energy to K-12 students and teachers throughout the district. As an incentive to participating schools, the district provided a 50% return of documented annual energy savings to fund energy-related educational expenditures.

The RCSD also made a commitment to expand its energy efficiency efforts into the classroom at 17 of the district's schools. At each school, green school clubs were formed to perform service-based learning projects. Clubs get staff, students, mentors and the community involved in activities such as: energy patrols in the school, energy art projects, pledges to conserve energy at home, sign-up cards for parents to purchase renewable energy and the grading of teachers on their efforts to reduce energy use at the school. Students conduct energy patrols at their schools equipped with tool kits for measuring and recording lighting lumens, temperature, air velocity and energy consumption of appliances. Teachers are graded for compliance with green club initiatives and are rewarded for good energy conservation practices in their classrooms. The clubs have documented over $200,000 of energy cost savings.

The green school clubs have increased the recycling rate in their schools through more stringent classroom recycling. This effort has resulted in the district considering a minimal waste program which potentially could save the district over $94,000 annually in waste management costs and increase the percentage of usable recyclables to over 95%.

The RCSD partnered with corporate engineers and professionals within the community to mentor the green school clubs. The RCSD also partnered with Monroe County for electricity procurement on the NY Independent System Operator Day Ahead Market and with Rochester Gas and Electric and Community Energy to purchase 24,000,000 kWh of reduced rate electricity, including 8,960,000 kWh of wind energy annually. The RCSD committed to purchasing over 8 million kWh of renewable energy annually, making them the second largest school building purchaser of renewable power nationally. This commitment has offset 15.9 tons of SOx, 5.3 tons of NOx and 5,750 tons of CO2 annually.

Town of Cortlandt, Westchester County

Project Name: Town of Cortlandt Open Space Preservation Plan

Applicant: Town of Cortlandt, Cortlandt Manor, Westchester County

Description of Project/Benefits: The Town of Cortlandt, Westchester County, was honored for leadership in open space preservation. The town has taken a holistic approach to land preservation with all regulatory boards working in cooperation to maximize preservation efforts. The town's multi-faceted approach to land preservation is grounded in the principals of smart growth planning, land acquisition and conservation easements. The result is a 107 % increase in the amount of permanently preserved land in the town. This is a long term project, demonstrates continued success and serves as an example for others to follow. Of the town's 21,700 acres, 2,279 were designated open space in 1990. By 2005, 5,563 acres have been protected as open space.

One of the most impressive aspects of the project was the town's commitment to intermunicipal cooperation and working in partnership with others. For example, in 2006, the Town of Cortlandt passed a Resolution of Intention to work with four neighboring communities to adopt intermunicipal zoning overlays to protect the biodiversity corridors. The town also developed productive working relationships with Scenic Hudson, the Westchester Land Trust, and the Teatown Nature Preserve, Westchester County and several state agencies.

The Town of Cortlandt has been committed to the sustainable preservation of natural resources. In support of that commitment, the town worked cooperatively with four neighboring towns to complete the Croton-Highlands Biodiversity Plan. The plan analyzed and mapped biodiversity corridors in these towns and explained the importance of the corridors for habitat preservation, improved passive recreation opportunities and various environmental benefits. Additional achievements that have resulted in environmental benefits include:

  • In 2004, the town adopted a new, more stringent Wetland Ordinance that eliminated the 5,000 sq. ft. minimum area to qualify as a wetland and includes the recognition of vernal pools as critical to habitat preservation.
  • The town recently adopted two new zoning districts that serve to protect and preserve conservation, recreation, park and open space lands.
  • The town formed an individual building permit review committee for all single-lot applications which are not subject to Planning Board review. As a result, projects have been redesigned to include conservation easements or other innovative planning techniques.

The Nature Conservancy and Lyme Timber Company

Project Name: Sable Highlands, Adirondack Park, Clinton and Essex Counties

Applicants: The Nature Conservancy and Lyme Timber Company

Description of Project/Benefits: The Nature Conservancy and Lyme Timber Company were honored for an innovative partnership that resulted in the protection of 104,000 acres of forest land in the Adirondack Park. Spanning seven towns in Franklin and Essex counties, this project balanced the environmental, economic and land use interests of multiple stakeholders. The project ensures the sustainable use of forest land, the protection of water quality and the conservation of ecologically-significant habitats.

The land, purchased from Domtar Industries, was one of the three largest privately-owned properties in the Adirondack Park. A decade ago, Domtar had the foresight to poll local stakeholders to find out what they thought was the best possible outcomes should the company ever sell the land. The predominant response was that the land should be kept working in support of the timber industry.

As part of the Sable Highlands project, Lyme Timber entered into a 20-year agreement to provide Forest Stewardship Council-certified pulpwood to Domtar, which is the first forest products company in the world to manufacture "FSC Certified" paper. The lands under easement will continue to be harvested for timber in accordance with the FSC's high standards to maintain a healthy forest, protect water quality, and conserve wildlife habitat.

By safeguarding 104,000 acres from fragmentation, this project has numerous environmental benefits that include:

  • protecting foraging grounds of moose, fisher, black bear, and bobcat;
  • preserving the forest canopy in which wood warblers and other neotropical migrants nest and breed;
  • protecting wetland resources;
  • maintaining streams and other natural water resources which support numerous aquatic species; and
  • supporting habitat for sugar maples and other native tree species.

In addition to the project's balanced configuration of conservation easement, working forest, and ecological reserves, the partners' efforts to work with constituents from all seven towns within the project can be applied to future land protection projects - large or small. The process involved soliciting input from the towns, hunt clubs, and key recreational user groups, to come up with an interim plan that demonstrates that the project has "something for everyone."

Xerox Corporation

Project Name: Xerox Corporation, Webster Campus ISO 144001

Applicant: Xerox Corporation, Webster, Rochester, NY, Monroe County

Description of Project/Benefits: Xerox Corporation, Webster Campus, Rochester, Monroe County was honored for its product stewardship and sustainable manufacturing facilitated by their implementation of an environmental management system. Xerox has pioneered the practice of converting end-of-life electronics into new products; developed an innovative life-cycle analysis process to maximize material recyclability and improved awareness of their recycling program resulting in an overall plant reuse/recycle rate of 81% for all materials used at the Webster Campus.

As a result of attaining the ISO 14001 certification from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Xerox Webster has seen a shift in the facility's culture and has been integrating environmental considerations within all operational activities. Some achievements in this regard include:

  • Xerox Webster has been designing for reuse, pioneering applications of innovative materials and processes, and reducing energy consumption.
  • Xerox Webster pioneered the practice of converting end-of-life electronic equipment into new products and parts. The facility developed a comprehensive process for taking back end-of-life products from customers in the early 1990's, establishing a remanufacturing and parts reuse program that fully supports "waste free" initiatives. In 2004, 90% of Xerox-designed product models introduced were developed with remanufacturing in mind.
  • As one of the largest distributors of cut-sheet paper, Xerox worked with its suppliers to ensure that proper and sustainable forestry practices are deployed. Xerox improved designs to allow the most efficient use of paper.
  • Reliable two-sided printing is featured in Xerox equipment. Xerox extended its reach of environmental policies across the product life-cycle. For example, Xerox Webster developed and implemented waste reduction parts/material reuse and recycling processes for certain equipment. As a result, the annual reduction in waste totals 1.5 million lbs., with an annual monetary savings of $20 million.

The ISO 14001 approach has lead Xerox Webster to develop various programs to proactively reduce or prevent adverse environmental impact. As such, the facility was accepted into the National Environmental Performance Track Program in October 2006.

Xerox Webster has been leading a corporate effort to reduce energy consumption and associated green-house gas emissions by adopting a 10% absolute reduction in company-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2012, from a 2002 baseline. Xerox also helps its customers reduce greenhouse gas emissions by offering over 95% of its products as EPA Energy Star certified. Xerox Webster's approach to managing products at end-of-life translates into preventing millions of pounds of waste from entering the landfills - 128 million pounds in 2004 alone.

Council on the Environment of NYC

Project Name: Rainwater Harvesting in Community Gardens; Water Pollution Prevention and Water Conservation

Applicant: Council on the Environment of New York City, New York City, New York County

Project Description: The Council on the Environment of New York City, New York County, was honored for promoting sustainable rainwater harvesting practices in New York City's community gardens and green spaces. Each year this effort has diverted over 325,000 gallons of rainwater into gardens rather than into storm drains.

Creative and effective partnerships were required to address water conservation and pollution prevention in such a vast metropolitan area. Partners included the Council on the Environment of New York City, the Brooklyn Greenbridge/Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, the NYS Department of Environmental Protection, the East New York Farms; the Green Guerillas, the Green Thumb, the New York Restoration Project, the NYS Housing Authority Gardens Program, the NYC Soil and Water Conservation District, the Trust for Public Land, and the Gaia Institute.

While rainwater harvesting is an ancient practice, its use in American cities is very new. Through this innovative program, community gardeners demonstrated a creative local solution to a global problem. Education and outreach efforts taught participants the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction and elimination of water pollution and the facts about the scarcity of fresh water. Outreach efforts promoting rainwater harvesting included presentations at various venues as well as 25 workshops attended by approximately 20+ people per workshop.

To date, the Council has helped build 25 rainwater harvesting demonstration systems. Each rainwater harvesting system diverts rainfall at a rate of 450 gallons for every inch of rain.

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