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2008 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, Lake Placid, Essex County

Project Name: Greening of the Golden Arrow Resort

Project Description:

In 2005, the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort located in Lake Placid, New York took action and greater responsibility for climate change. This visible resort in the heart of the Adirondack Park took a leadership role and became the first resort in the area to become more sustainable, educate guests about environmental issues and assist others to follow their model of excellence in order to reduce the carbon footprint of the hospitality industry. The resort has instituted green programs that reduce the environmental impact not only of the hotel, but of the traveler.

The resort now considers four factors when making all decisions: 1) guest satisfaction 2) product quality 3) profitability and 4) environmental impact. The resort's owners are committed to making environmental improvements throughout the resort's operations and maintenance, as well helping more than 80,000 guests (annually) become educated about how to live a sustainable life-style. Initially, the resort created an environmental mission statement and formed a "Green Team." The "Green Team" is comprised of the owners and representatives of the employees. The team acts as the environmental leaders for the resort and develops and revisits sustainability goals and objectives on an annual basis. The owners have seen a change in the culture of their resort and employee moral has significantly increased. Employees are taking ownership of the programs being implemented and know they are making a difference.

The International Audubon Society's Green Leaf Rating Program for Hotels rated the Golden Arrow with 3 of the 5 green leaves in 2006. In 2008, the Golden Arrow's rating was increased to 4 green leaves. They are the only resort in the United States to receive this high rating. Some of the Golden Arrow's innovations include:

Green Roof: Completed in June of 2008, the green roof is a 3,400 square foot roof that guests are able to enjoy, weather permitting, from the deck of Charlie's Restaurant.

Private White Sand Beach: The white sand on the resort's beach is made of crushed limestone which helps counteract the effects of acid rain.

Green Meetings: All meetings and events use plates, glasses and cutlery for all meals and breaks; any waste generated is properly recycled/disposed of, all paper goods and pens are made of post-consumer content and are recycled or reused; a paperless reservation system is available; there is no bottled water; meeting rooms use energy efficient lighting and meals are made from organic and locally produced foods.

Thanks for Being Green Gift Bag & Hybrid Parking: Any guest who travels to the Golden Arrow by foot, ski, bike or hybrid car receives a "Thanks for Being Green" gift bag upon arrival.

Green Cleaning Agents: The resort is committed to purchasing green alternative cleaning products that do not compromise efficacy.

Energy Management Systems: Fifteen new guest rooms have an in-room management system that automatically turns down the heat or A/C when the room is not occupied. These systems will be phased into all rooms over the next few years.

Green Purchasing: In 2005, the resort committed to purchase only 100% recycled content paper products. For other products such as carpeting and pens, the resort considers "greenness" as well as cost.

In-Room Amenities: The resort has found a company that produces room amenities (shampoo, soaps, etc.) packaged in post-consumer paper which produces 93% less waste than traditional packaging.

Guest Room Recycling: Each room is supplied with a recycling bag for all recyclables. The resort staff then sort and separate the materials ensuring proper handling. Since June 2007, the resort has seen 85% guest participation.

Allergen Free Wing: In 2006, the resort remodeled rooms of a wing to feature bamboo flooring, a high-efficiency Hepa air filtration system, dust mite mattress and pillow covers, hypo-allergenic blankets and chlorine filters on the showerheads. These rooms also feature leather furniture to prevent dust build-up.

Sheet/Towel Reuse Program: Though not innovative, this is an on-going program at the resort.

Double Paned Windows, Low Flow Toilets & Shower Heads: These features were among the first changes made to the resort.

Storm Water Management System & Oil Separator: As part of a commitment to the quality of Mirror Lake, an extensive stormwater management system was installed.

No More Road Salt: The resort now uses a green alternative that is a 100% soluble salt-like product that contains no hazardous chemicals and is much safer for the environment.

Kids Earth Day Celebration: For Earth Day 2008, the resort invited the local kindergarten and pre-school classes to participate in an event that included sustainable crafts that fostered an appreciation for environmental stewardship.

Eco-Fair: The fair, held in May 2008, included vendors providing organic foods, workshops on green living, a magazine exchange and live music from local musicians. The goal was to put together eco-minded individuals with sustainable suppliers and tips on going green. Visit the website at http://www.ecofair-ny.com.

Chemung Co. Soil & Water Conservation District and Southern Tier Central Regional Planning & Development Board, Chemung County

Project Name: Stream Process Guide

Project Description:

This innovative guide is entitled "Stream Processes: A Guide to Living in Harmony with Streams." It describes how streams work (conveying varying amounts of water, transporting sediment, and dissipating energy) and explains why functioning floodplains are integral parts of the stream system. It is not filled with technical jargon and equations. Rather, it uses pictures to tell the story, with dramatic photographs of washed out bridges and eroded banks illustrating potential consequences of stream management practices. A toppled house, flood rescue operations, buried vehicles, and other images convey the hazards of stream corridor development. Still more pictures illustrate stream management successes and recommended practices.

The guide also provides users with information about the various permits and regulations that may apply to stream and floodplain projects. However, the guide reaches beyond regulatory requirements and legal concerns by promoting sound management practices and the lessons learned can be applied to stream channels, floodplains, stream corridors, and watershed activities that do not trigger regulatory actions.

Water resource professionals throughout New York State (and beyond) are using the guide as a tool to educate landowners, highway departments, farmers, loggers, watershed organizations, planning boards, developers, elected officials and others, so that they are better equipped to make land use and stream management decisions that protect stream systems and prevent disrupting a stream's equilibrium. The guide has been used as an educational tool since 2006.

With 30,000 copies made, the guide has positively affected decisions made by Chemung County landowners and local highway departments. Municipal officials are contacting the Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District requesting assistance with natural stream practices, as well as wetlands and road ditch issues. Educated decision makers are better equipped to make land use and stream management decisions that protect stream systems and prevent disrupting the natural steam equilibrium.

The Stream Processes Guide has been distributed to a variety of audiences throughout New York State, including highway departments, planning boards, property owners, elected officials, watershed organizations, workshop attendees, DEC staff, and school children. An accompanying PowerPoint presentation has been used to present stream processes information to various groups. Both the guide and the presentation are available on the internet (http://www.chemungcountyswcd.com/ and http://www.stcplanning.org/).

Brewster School District, Putnam County

Project Name: Environmental Education - Sustainable Practices Project

Project Description:

Through its multi-faceted Environmental Education/Sustainable Practices Project, the Brewster Central School District has demonstrated exemplary public leadership in protecting the environment and in promoting environmental education. This comprehensive project includes significant capital improvements and managerial processes to save energy and to protect the region's water supply. The project also includes educational activities that have developed students' awareness of environmental issues and have empowered them with opportunities to participate in meaningful, innovative, hands-on activities that have measurable environmental impacts.

The comprehensiveness of this project is truly an innovation, especially considering the constant pressure of asking taxpayers to take on more of the burden. The Environmental Education/Sustainable Practices project goes far beyond the Brewster School District's regulatory and educational requirements. It is a model of excellence for all NY school districts to emulate.

The district's Sustainability Task Force has been charged with overseeing and bringing cohesiveness to the project, especially in terms of connecting the building management components with the environmental education components. This is a unique and innovative planning process for an educational institution.

Accomplishments of this project include:

  • Through an education and outreach program involving teachers and students, recycling at all five schools has resulted in 50% less solid waste production;
  • Unique enrichment programs for all students in grades 4-8 focusing on global sustainability empowering youth by introducing them to fields of study, such as sustainable development, future studies and systems thinking;
  • An extensive outdoor education program in the district's intermediate school and involving students in grades 4-5 in a student-run organic garden. The produce raised is consumed locally reducing transportation costs and impacts;
  • Restructuring the secondary science curriculum to create pathways for study of environmental science, sustainable resources and alternative energy;
  • Development of student environmental and sustainability leaders;
  • Technologically advanced wastewater treatment facility built in 2007 on district property and operated by the district with the support of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. The facility goes beyond regulatory requirements for the NYC watershed; and
  • In 2006-2008, significant building improvements were accomplished with the assistance of the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, resulting in substantial energy conservation.

Measurable Environmental Benefits resulting from the Environmental Education/Sustainable Practices project include:

  • 17.6% annual savings on a mBtu basis;
  • 1,724,388 pounds of CO2 emissions avoided (which is the same as the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 143 passenger cars, CO2 emissions from 88,782 gallons of gasoline consumed, CO2 emissions from electricity for 104 homes for one year);
  • 250,000 cubic feet of paper and 250,000 cubic feet of plastic waste were prevented from going to the landfill;
  • All biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) from the wastewater removed, thereby preventing excessive plant growth, loss of oxygen and fish kill in the receiving water and into the Croton River; and
  • All 3,700 Brewster School District students are participating in the recycling programs.

Aslan Environmental & City of Kingston WWTP, Ulster County

Project Name: Innovative Automated Process for Creating "Class A" Biosolids at Small and Medium Municipalities

Project Description:

The City of Kingston, NY, partnered the Aslan Group and succeeded in developing a new and innovative system for managing wastewater treatment plant solids residuals in an economical and environmentally sound manner. The first system of its kind in the world has successfully been in operation at the Kingston Wastewater Treatment Plant for just over one year. Waste biogas is captured from the plant's digesters and utilized as the only required fuel to turn 10 wet tons per day of municipal wastewater sludge into one ton per day of an EPA recognized "Class A" EQ pelletized usable biosolid. The biosolid is distributed free of charge for use as a lawn fertilizer or furnace fuel. This is accomplished at a cost to the City of Kingston less than the previous cost of discarding "Class B" sludge at a New York State landfill.

Methane gas is efficiently utilized within the process as a fuel and since very little methane is flared any longer, NOx and other pollutant emissions have been reduced. In addition, landfill space is saved, leachate is no longer produced, truck traffic is minimized, local plant odors are reduced, 500-mile trucking trips have ceased, and the system operates fully automatically at nearly zero energy cost.

The drying technology selected was previously proven in large scale dryers in Brugges and Antwerp, Belgium, and in Baltimore, Maryland. With Kingston's assistance, Aslan initiated an energy evaluation of the overall plant operations and integrated this solution to the existing plant. The entire system then needed to be scaled down to meet the needs of the smaller Kingston operation. The operating system also needed to be updated to allow for automated operations. Over the past year, the plant has hosted many tours of the new operational model. Measurable environmental benefits of this innovative project include:

  • Removing a 6-8 ft. high flare burning methane, sulfur and mercaptin compounds. Biogas is now burned in a furnace and used as a heat source for the drying process;
  • Reducing tens of thousands of yards or tons of "Class B" waste solids from being landfilled annually;
  • Reducing truck traffic by 30 trips per year;
  • Distributing biosolids, free of charge, to golf courses, landscapers and excavators. Residents are also able to pick up the product free of charge.

NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee, Albany County

Project Name: Agricultural Environmental Management - Farming NY Cleaner & Greener

Project Description:

New York's AEM program serves as a national model of how a voluntary incentive-based approach to agricultural management can successfully protect and enhance soil and water resources, while preserving the economic viability of a diverse agricultural community. AEM assists farmers in making practical, cost-effective decisions that result in the sustainable use of New York's natural resources.

More than 10,000 New York farm families participate in New York's Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program. In order to remain economically viable, farmers must be vigilant about protecting environmental resources, especially water quality. While there are no perfect land uses, well-managed farms can protect water quality as they contribute far less polluted runoff when compared with most other land uses. Where agricultural runoff concerns do occur, they can be remedied by implementing AEM practices.

The New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee's AEM program is a voluntary, incentive-based program. County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and other partners deliver information/education and technical assistance so that farmers are able to operate cleaner and greener while competing in today's global market. The program provides a systematic approach to:

  • assess and prioritize areas of concern;
  • document current stewardship;
  • develop farm-specific conservation plans to more wisely manage farm operations; and
  • implement environmentally sound practices and evaluate to ensure regulatory compliance and economic viability.

Farm conservation plans are costly to develop and require additional funds to implement. However, even in the current fiscal crisis, the AEM program has been able to facilitate the successful development of farm plans for NYS's 147 large concentrated animal feed lots (CAFOs). Farm plans have also been developed for 92% of NYS's 472 medium-sized CAFOs. These plans are routinely evaluated by certified AEM planners to assure the public, regulators and farmers of high-quality results from the AEM program.

The partnerships involved in the AEM process are outstanding and exemplary. The program depends upon the cooperation between watershed organizations, academia, environmental conservation organizations, farming associations, business associations, and state and federal government agencies.

Union College, Schenectady County

Project Name: Union College U-Sustain Initiative

Project Description:

The U-Sustain initiative is an innovative, campus-wide program that involves faculty, staff, students and administrators. The goals of this program are to reduce the ecological footprint of Union College, increase environmental awareness on campus and in the community, and make the college more sustainable. It serves as a functional model for other institutions to follow.

This well integrated program involves many creative partnerships on campus to accomplish goals that go beyond regulatory requirements and result in measurable improvements in the sustainability of Union College. The program includes education and outreach projects that increase environmental awareness and stewardship on campus and within the community. Sharing ideas and resources so that others may benefit from creative programs and solutions developed at Union College is an essential component of the initiative.

Key innovations accomplished through the U-Sustain initiative include:

Eco-House - One of the student apartments was renovated to be an eco-friendly house. The Eco-House now has sustainable bamboo flooring, faucets with built in generators and low flow output, light emitting diode (LED) lighting, and a solar panel array to help generate electricity for the house.

Do It In The Dark - Over the last two years, students have worked with the facilities services staff to create an energy usage competition called "Do It In The Dark." The competition has helped save an average of 3% of energy use across campus, helping to cut carbon emissions.

Café Ozone and O3 Marketplace - Café Ozone is one of the most popular dining locations on campus. The café is supported by student volunteers associated with the Environmental Club and Ozone House (an environmentally-themed house on campus). Student volunteers work with dining services to provide fresh, local and organic entrées to the campus and local community. The produce comes directly from local farmers, helping to support local business.

Carbon Footprint - A group of Union faculty and students conducted independent research in the spring of 2008 to analyze and describe Union College's carbon footprint. This research is helping to guide and inspire future innovations on campus involving resource allocations, transportation and energy use.

Outreach Training - Students, faculty and staff are developing an educational training program to inform various campus groups about what Union College is doing to be more sustainable and individual practices that every person can do to live more sustainably.

Measurable environmental benefits resulting from the U-Sustain initiative include:

  • The college purchased 15% of its electrical energy from wind power plants, offsetting 1,860 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of planting 240,000 trees or taking 255 vehicles off the road. Furthermore, 5 percent of the wind power was purchased from NYS sources, helping to increase the production of renewable resources in New York State.
  • The college sent a Request For Proposal to paper vendors and found that recycled paper was actually cheaper than virgin paper. The college also enabled .pdf scanning to e-mail in several departments and has provided new copy machines with double-sided printing options. The college is working to mandate the use of recycled paper. All of these efforts have saved 255 trees, 105,000 gallons of water, 61 MWh of electricity, and 45 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Dining halls are implementing changes that have reduced food waste at a rate of 2,100 pounds per year. A new composting system will reduce the impact of food waste stream by several tons every year.
  • Through improved recycling education and by providing more bins, recycling rates have increased. Paper recycling was expanded to a rate of 40 tons per year. Container recycling has more than doubled from 4,000 containers per month to over 10,000 containers per month. These efforts are saving 10 MWh of energy or 6.9 tons of carbon dioxide.

The effectiveness of U-Sustain has resulted from both the depth and breadth of expertise and the utilization of both grassroots efforts and top-down influence. This structure allows for great dialogue and ideas and supplies experts from a number of disciplines that can help guide the oversight committee. Overall, U-Sustain has been extraordinarily effective in just one year and has opened up a tremendous dialogue on campus. The campus is more aware of environmental issues.


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