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2011 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

The Dryden Central School District received an award for turning its grass-roots recycling program into one of the most comprehensive and ongoing school recycling and composting programs in New York State. This outstanding district-wide program involves the district's 1900 students and 380 faculty and staff. Elementary students receive training so that they are able to oversee the waste separation process in their cafeterias. Members of the middle and high school's Sustainability Club are trained to provide homeowners in the district with a free home energy profile report and suggestions for improving energy efficiency. The environmental benefits being achieved are remarkable. The district is removing and composting 103 tons of food waste and recycling 7.6 tons of milk and juice cartons instead of sending all the waste to a landfill. The district is also achieving a savings of almost $5,000.00 which ultimately saves the taxpayers! The Dryden School District is actively sharing their success in hopes to inspire others in pursuit of sustainable practices.

University at Albany (UAlbany) was honored for the "You've Got the Power to Conserve" program. As a signatory to the American College and University's President's Climate Commitment, UAlbany is demonstrating leadership and ingenuity by implementing this comprehensive, low-cost energy conservation program. This program includes a wide variety of activities to educate students and faculty and is transforming the entire campus community to become environmentally responsible. In conjunction with their education efforts, UAlbany is implementing an Intersession Energy Initiative that involves lowering building temperatures, shutting off air handlers and limiting hot water in order to save energy. UAlbany is also implementing a Temperature Set Point Policy. This policy requires, that during occupied hours, buildings are set at 68° during the heating season and 76° during the cooling season. During off-hours and weekends, the temperatures can be adjusted to as low as 55° during winter and as high as 80° during summer. U of Albany's award winning project also includes efforts to determine the occupancy schedule for the academic buildings. A mechanical system schedule is developed based on the building occupancy hours and is shared with all the building managers for review and approval. This unique energy conservation program has achieved significant environmental benefits including reducing CO2 emissions by 11%; reducing electricity use by over 5 million kWh; reducing heating use by 7.4%; and saving 1 million gallons of water. The University is also realizing an economic benefit. From the inception of the program, University of Albany has achieved an annual savings of approximately $700,000.

Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency was honored for their municipal food waste composting program which clearly demonstrates how a community can cost-effectively capture the local organics stream and produce a sustainable product as a result. By using an innovative composting technique, OCRRA composts food waste in a fraction of the time which saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. A partnership with Syracuse University adds nearly 7 tons per week of pre-consumer food waste from seven campus dining halls. In 2010, Syracuse University diverted over 137 tons of food waste from their waste stream which saved more than $4,500.00 in tip fee expenses. 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.

The University of Rochester (U of R) received an award for the "Go Green! Conserve and Save" program. This program includes a wide variety of activities to better educate and involve the campus community in energy efficient and sustainable practices. In 2008, U of R's President formed the Council on Sustainability to spearhead new initiatives and achieve tangible results. U of R is the first college or university to join the "Pride of NY" program. Approximately 20% of the food purchased by U of R's Dining Services is produced or processed in New York State. Each year, residence halls compete in the "UR Unplugged" program to see which residence hall 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, the University 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.

Uniland Development Company was honored for taking an innovative approach for the redevelopment of the 405,000 square foot former Dulski Federal Building, in Buffalo, New York. The property 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 Avant is a prime example of a sustainable environment for work and play where eco-friendly practices are used and where people are learning about environmentally responsible living.

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