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2009 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

Town of North Hempstead, Nassau County

Project Name: School Recycling Partnership Program

Project Description:

In January of 2008, the Town of North Hempstead began a groundbreaking initiative to partner with public schools within the Town on a comprehensive recycling program. The town recognizes that recycling will prevent large amounts of solid waste from entering landfills and save significant taxpayer dollars.

To date, North Hempstead has partnered with 8 of the Town's 11 school districts and has supplied every single classroom and office in each participating district with recycling bins. The town has also committed to carting all the recyclables collected in a total of 44 buildings.

There are over 28,000 students participating in this program. Each class room and each school maintains statistical records of the recyclables collected. This provides tangible evidence of the impact that the program is having on the number of trees saved, and the other natural resources preserved. It provides measurements by which the program can compare one area to another and one year to the next. It provides a sense of accomplishment to the students, teachers, administrators and officials. And it sets an example to other communities who are interested in establishing similar programs. Measuring the volume of recycled materials being collected one classroom at a time allows students to see how they can make a difference on a small scale and as part of the overall common goal.
The environmental benefits are impressive for such a young program. An average of 25 tons of paper and six tons of co-mingled recyclables have been collected from the participating schools each month. The Town of North Hempstead has diverted 225 tons of paper and 54 tons of co-mingled recyclables from landfills and incinerators in the first year of the program.

The recycling partnership program is a model of excellence from an environmental and economic perspective. Students are becoming environmental stewards; taxpayers save money, school districts receive the benefit of a worthwhile service they otherwise would had to pay for and 279 tons of material has been diverted from landfills.

Camp Venture, Inc., Rockland County

Project Name: Camp Venture Solar Project

Project Description:

Camp Venture, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit corporation that cares for developmentally disabled children and adults within Rockland County, New York. The agency operates twenty-four certified community residences serving developmentally disabled adults licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD).

During 2008, Camp Venture opened four new residences all of which were designed to be environmentally friendly. In particular, Camp Venture, Inc., received approval from NYS OMRDD for the purchase and renovation of a residence at Sidney Drive. Camp Venture committed to incorporate green building practices into the renovation. This included increasing insulation, installing occupancy sensors, using high efficiency lighting systems, installing low-flow toilets and purchasing energy star appliances.

The project required a unique partnership between Camp Venture, their oversight and funding body NYS OMRDD and NYSERDA. With cooperation between these three agencies, it was possible to obtain the necessary approvals and secure additional funding to incorporate the green features. The total renovation for Sidney Drive was done within budget and included a 4.9Kw PV system, at a cost of $14,900.00 to Camp Venture (after the NYSERDA rebate). The total cost of the PV system was $39,931.00 and the total cost of the home renovation was just over $180,000.00.

However, what makes this project truly innovative is that it is the first of 5,995 group homes under OMRDD that is equipped with a photovoltaic (PV) array. Camp Venture Inc. has also clearly demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence by forming a "Green Committee" which established environmentally friendly practices such as using green cleaning products, reducing paper use and purchasing as well as eliminating bottled water in favor of using tap water filtration systems. By educating its 600 employees about greener practices, Camp Venture has developed its own environmental ethic at its 24 certified community residences.

In one year, this project has generated 3,551 Kw of power. This means that clean energy has been used to power much of this active residence. Overall, this project has resulted in a reduction of 6,036 pounds of CO2 emissions. These results are tangible, measurable and ongoing with a life expectancy of over thirty years.

Town of Islip, Suffolk County

Project Name: Pump-out Boat Program

Project Description:

This pollution prevention program began in 2006 with partial funding from the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation. Since its inception, the program has positive environmental benefits.

Prior to this program, there were only a few pump-out facilities available in the Great South Bay and these were sited at various marinas. Private marinas tend to service only its patrons while the public marinas often experience significant waiting times and frequent equipment failures. Considering these limitations, boaters frequently would discharge boat sewage into the bay. This has resulted in shellfish contamination, beach closures and degraded water quality.

This innovative and convenient program is the town's solution to an ongoing environmental concern. The pump-out-boat is available to assist boaters on an "as needed" basis without long wait times or fees.

In its first and somewhat abbreviated season, the pump-out vessel collected 1,730 gallons of boat sewage from the boating public. In 2007, 19,440 gallons was collected and in 2008 the pump-out vessel collected 25,810 gallons of boat sewage.

The Town of Islip's Boat Pump-Out Program offers a viable and cost-effective solution to a longstanding environmental problem. The town has demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence and the continued improvement of water quality in the Great South Bay, which has recently been declared a "no discharge zone."

Monroe County Department of Environmental Services, Monroe County

Project Name: Pharmaceutical Waste Collection

Project Description:

In 2008, Monroe County took the lead in facilitating the proper collection and disposal of pharmaceutical waste from households. Pharmaceuticals are emerging as chemicals of concern for United States waterways. Monroe County stepped out as a leader holding the first pharmaceutical collection in upstate/central New York and creating an innovative tool to assist other New York municipalities to organize and hold successful pharmaceutical waste collection events.

The county assembled a team of unique partners including county law enforcement, Center for Environmental Information, Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center, Clean Harbors Environmental, Wegman's Food Markets and Action for a Better Community. Under the guidance of Monroe County, the partners worked together to develop a pharmaceutical collection plan that was approved by NYS Department of Health and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

On April 19, 2008 Monroe County held the first pharmaceutical waste collection event in upstate/central New York. The event was a success and resulted in the collection of more than 42,000 pills of unwanted medications. Since then, Monroe County has held 5 more pharmaceutical waste collection events at which they collected 128 pounds of hazardous substances, 3,727 pounds of non-hazardous substances and 314 pounds of controlled substances.

In addition, the county produced a guidebook that outlines plans and procedures for collection events, checklists of needed materials, event preparations and advertising samples. This innovative tool has been made available to municipalities and agencies throughout New York to organize and hold successful pharmaceutical waste collection events.

Monroe County remains a leader of a workgroup with representatives from law enforcement, pharmaceutical associations, disposal companies, NYSDEC, and municipal officials from about 15 different counties. This group meets regularly to address ongoing concerns related to pharmaceutical collections. The workgroup is currently working to raise public awareness, new state legislation and helping to organize additional collection events.

By sharing its experience and providing assistance to others in upstate/central New York, Monroe County provides a model of excellence in establishing successful, sustainable and cost-effective pharmaceutical waste collection programs.

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