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2007 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

Delphi Thermal Systems

Project Name: Elimination of Hexavalent Chromium Conversion Coating and Closure of Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility

Applicant: Delphi Thermal Systems, Lockport, NY (Niagara County)

Description of Project/Benefits:

Delphi Thermal Systems' Lockport facility, a major supplier of automotive climate control and powertrain cooling systems, was honored for eliminating the hexavalent chromium coating for air conditioning evaporator units by using an alternative metal alloy. This sustainable process change created an immediate environmental benefit at the point of production, improved employee safety and eliminated the largest single source of hexavalent chromium from a vehicle at end-of-life disposal. The change also allowed the facility to eliminate a hazardous waste stream and close a wastewater treatment plant.

Delphi investigated multiple coating alternatives and also changing the primary metal alloy used in the air conditioning evaporator units. Evaporator samples were coated and tested for durability. Simultaneously, Delphi was also conducting wastewater studies and evaluating the alternatives for manufacturing concerns and environmental impacts. Through this thorough research and development process, Delphi was looking for a replacement process that would both provide the best overall environmental and manufacturing solution and exceed customer requirements.

Delphi made the decision to form the evaporator part by utilizing an alternative metal alloy, thus eliminating the coating from evaporators. This material change was also implemented globally at other Delphi evaporator manufacturing sites.

The removal of the coatings materials changed the classification of the process waste from "hazardous" to "non-hazardous." This change allowed Delphi to close its wastewater treatment plant and divert wastewater to the City of Lockport. The on-site industrial wastewater treatment plant was demolished under an approved closure plan.

This project has resulted in a reduction of approximately 145,000 gallons of hexavalent chromium chemical use annually. And, the elimination of a direct wastewater discharge has resulted in direct environmental benefits due to decreased utility usage (4.3 million gallons of water and 3.4 million KW hours of electricity saved), the elimination of thousands of pounds of bulk chemicals, and the elimination of 200 tons of solid hazardous waste from being disposed of in a landfill.

Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Sewer Board

Project Name: Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Plant Anaerobic Digester Improvements Project

Applicant: Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Sewer Board (Fulton County)

Description of Project/Benefits:

This Fulton County wastewater treatment facility was honored for addressing a problem with an existing anaerobic digester cover by using an innovative and non-conventional solution. The facility chose to convert the defective floating cover to a fixed cover, the first application of this technology in New York State. The project resulted in immediate measurable environmental benefits including a 70 percent increase in biogas production and a 120 percent increase in electrical generation annually.

The Gloversville-Johnstown wastewater treatment facility treats domestic and industrial waste water and was designed to use recovered biogas from its anaerobic digesters to fuel a cogeneration system providing combined heat and power. The existing floating gasholder cover on the secondary digester was malfunctioning which was resulting in wasted biogas, emissions of greenhouse gases, inconsistent pressure in the cogeneration system and an explosive environment which posed a safety risk to personnel.

The Joint Sewer Board chose a non-conventional solution that essentially would rehabilitate and reuse the existing secondary digester cover and convert it to a fixed cover. This approach saved the facility an estimated $300,000. This sustainable solution resulted in immediate measurable environmental benefits such as:

  • reduction of fugitive greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduction of natural gas usage by 96% in on year
  • reduction in electricity purchased by 40%

This project serves as a model for the rehabilitation of aging anaerobic digesters and promotes the use of biogas as a valuable resource.

IBM - East Fishkill

Project Name: Distillation of Ammonia Wastewater for the Reductions of Nitrates Discharge

Applicant: IBM - East Fishkill (Dutchess County)

Description of Project/Benefits:

The IBM East Fishkill facility is home to one of the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the world. After an intensive research effort, the IBM East Fishkill facility developed and implemented an innovative wastewater treatment system that reduced the discharge of nitrates by 67 percent. Using a distillation process, the new system recovers and recycles ammonia-laden wastewater, which in turn directly reduces the amount of ammonium hydroxide and nitrates released.

IBM's 300 mm fab came on-line in 2002. As the manufacturing processes were refined, it became apparent that the initial projections of ammonium hydroxide were low and that the higher levels would strain IBM's existing biological wastewater treatment system.

The engineering team began researching alternatives in late 2002 and decided to use a system that combined hydrogen peroxide pretreatment and distillation of the ammonia-laden wastewater. This innovative system has been on-line continuously since January 2007. The nitrates discharge in the final effluent has been reduced by 67%.

In addition to the environmental benefits associated with the removal of nitrates from the surface waters leading to the Hudson River, other benefits have been realized including the conservation of natural gas and liquified petroleum gas generally used during the conversion of nitrogen to ammonia. Other benefits of this innovative pretreatment/distillation process include the generation of an ammonium hydroxide product for offsite use instead of biological sludge for offsite disposal, reduced chemical useage and capital cost savings.

Adirondack Chapter - The Nature Conservancy

Project Name: Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program

Applicant: Adirondack Chapter - The Nature Conservancy (Essex County)

Description of Project/Benefits:

The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in Essex County was honored for the development of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) which protects the Adirondacks from the lasting negative economic and environmental impacts of non-native, invasive species. This partnership program implements a regional, integrated and collaborative approach. Using a variety of innovative strategies, the program protects the biodiversity, recreational attributes, aesthetic value, cultural legacy, economic viability, tourism and transportation infrastructures of the park by controlling invasive plants.

Invasive species displace native flora and fauna, alter ecosystem structure and function and are extremely costly to control once established, and now rank as the second leading cause of the loss of biodiversity. The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program's three main objectives are to prevent new introductions of invasive plants, rapidly detect and eradicate new infestations and manage existing infestations and mitigate their impacts. The program works on numerous fronts to accomplish these objectives. The cornerstone of the program is the outreach and education efforts to engage various audiences and interest groups. Since 2004, the program has reached more than 10,000 people through presentations alone.

The environmental benefits are far-reaching. The program has inventoried thousands of occurrences of terrestrial invasive plans throughout the Adirondack Park. Program partners have removed tens of thousands of tons of garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, common reed grass, yellow iris, purple loosestrife, swallowwort, and honeysuckle from Adirondack roadsides. Similarly, the aquatic invasive plant project has determined that approximately 230 volunteers have spent over 3,000 hours in five seasons monitoring 182 waterways for invasive plants. As a result, managers know that 51 Adirondack waterways are infected with aquatic invasive plants. This information is being used to determine priorities for spread prevention and species management.

Ecovation and Breyers Yogurt Company - North Lawrence Facility

Project Name: Converting Waste to Renewable Energy

Applicant: Ecovation and Breyers Yogurt Company - North Lawrence Facility ( St. Lawrence County)

Description of Project/Benefits:

In 2005, Breyers Yogurt Co. partnered with Ecovation to install an innovative waste treatment and renewable energy system at its North Lawrence, NY facility in St. Lawrence County. The treatment system offered a unique solution - it allows the facility to treat high-strength dairy production waste and generate methane-rich biogas, which is then used to offset fossil fuel use at the facility.

Due to its rural setting, the Breyers North Lawrence, NY facility relies heavily on both electricity and No. 6 fuel oil shipped to the site. The plant processes more than 300 million pounds of milk daily to make cottage cheese and yogurt. These processes result in high-strength waste bi-products which are expensive to dispose of. Therefore, the company sought an alternative that would allow for increased production while complying with stringent environmental regulations.

As a result of installing the renewable energy waste treatment system, the Breyers Yogurt facility was able to replace an average of 1,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil per day. In addition, the treatment system is so efficient the resulting excess capacity allowed the company to accept wastes from nearby dairies, expanding the environmental benefits, further reducing the area's reliance on fuel oil and building new and creative partnerships advancing sustainability. Along with providing a renewable resource, the treatment system eliminates the safety and environmental risk of many acid whey disposal practices and reduces air emissions from both burning and transporting fossil fuels.

The partnership between Breyers Yogurt Company and Ecovation has made the North Lawrence facility more productive, while creating a positive environmental solution that reduces costs and contributes to sustainable business practices.

Syracuse City School District

Project Name: Syracuse City Schools Going Green - The Go Green Initiative

Applicant: Syracuse City School District (Onondaga County)

Description of Project/Benefits:

The Syracuse City School District in Onondaga County was honored for successfully implementing a "Going Green" program modeled after the national Go Green Initiative program. In May 2005, the Edward Smith Elementary school was the first school in New York to "Go Green." Since then, 30 more schools in the Syracuse City School District have joined the effort and have formed "Green Teams" that are actively committed to engaging their campus communities in environmentally-friendly and resource-saving activities.

Green Teams involve more than 200 teachers, administrators, custodians, students and parents directly involved in implementing projects such as recycling, energy conservation, composting and reducing waste in school cafeterias.

The district's recycling efforts alone have diverted more than 500 tons of paper from entering the waste stream. This effort has saved 8,500 trees; 231,500 gallons of oil; 350,000 gallons of water and 2,050,000 kilowatt hours of energy. Other green activities include school cafeterias replacing styrofoam trays with recyclable paper bags, replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, and requiring that school facility renovation or construction projects must meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.

By "Going Green," the Syracuse City School district is effectively promoting environmental education and in the process has empowered the student body to be proactive leaders in protecting the earth.

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