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2012 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

Ecovative Design, LLC (Albany County) was honored for their innovative, bio-based, zero-waste packing material. Ecovative Design is an example of how a small business can achieve environmental excellence and serve as a model of innovation and sustainability. Two entrepreneurs have developed a strong, low-cost biomaterial that replaces foam packaging, such as Styrofoam, urethane and plastic thermoforms. The process uses fungi that "grow" on custom shaped forms made from inedible crop waste (i.e., buckwheat husks). It takes place indoors, in the dark and without any human intervention. Every gram of raw material becomes part of the final product which means zero waste. Furthermore, the packaging material, known as "EcoCradle," can be easily composted after its intended use. By comparison, synthetic materials such as plastics and foams, consume approximately 10 percent of the petroleum used in the United States annually. The environmental benefits of these products include replacing 196,000 cubic feet of plastic foam packaging parts and diverting that material from landfills post use, saving 77 thousand gallons of petroleum annually and diverting 686 tons of agricultural waste from landfills or incinerators on an annual basis. Both Dell and Steelcase Inc. are among large companies that now use Ecovative's products in place of foam or plastic packaging. This small company demonstrates that innovative, bio-based products grown in the USA can be high performance, ecologically sensible and have a place in the global market.

Owens Corning (Albany County) was awarded for developing and producing EcoTouchTM Insulation. The company's commitment to clean-tech solutions, innovative process changes and customer satisfaction resulted in the production of insulation from natural minerals and a minimum of 58 percent recycled glass content. Additionally, Owens Corning replaced the formaldehyde-based binder with an innovative starch-based binder which improved the product and provided a healthier working environment for employees. The plant in Delmar, NY is one of first Owens Corning facilities in the United States to manufacture the EcotouchTM product. As a result of the EcoTouchTM product, Owens Corning has annually reduced emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) by 98 percent and has diverted approximately 4,300 tons of recycled glass from landfills. Sustainability is a core business strategy for Owens Corning. Locally, the company has demonstrated this commitment by reducing the environmental footprint of the Delmar plant by improving operations, producing more environmentally friendly product and improving energy efficiency.

IBM East Fishkill (Dutchess County) was honored for a catalytic hydrogen peroxide treatment system that demonstrates the environmental, economic and health and safety benefits that can be achieved as a result of pollution prevention and green chemistry technologies. Previously, IBM's wastewater treatment contributed to high levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in the wastewater being discharged. The new process has reduced the TDS by more than 20 percent which is beneficial to local waterways. This project has brought a safer work environment for employees since chemical use and storage has been significantly reduced. IBM's longstanding corporate environmental policy has resulted in continued improvement in the facility's manufacturing operations through waste minimization, energy and water conservation, solid waste recycling, converting to green technologies. In addition to the water quality improvements being achieved, this project has eliminated 320 tons of hazardous chemicals and more than 270 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. The conversion to catalytic technology has allowed IBM to offer a new wastewater treatment technology for the semiconductor industry to use.

Monroe County Crime Lab (Monroe County) was recognized as the first building of its kind to earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification from the United States Green Building Council. The design and engineering team was lead by LaBella Associates P.C. located in Rochester. This project goes above and beyond the impressive Platinum LEED certification and the associated environmental benefits. It serves as an example of intergovernmental cooperation and a commitment to educate building occupants and visitors about sustainable building. Visitors in the lobby are able to view a continuous loop video, activated by occupancy, on the sustainable design features of the building. Because the building is located on a previously contaminated site, it is a successful demonstration of brownfield redevelopment. There are many environmental benefits being achieved as a result of this project including an annual 82 percent decrease in stormwater runoff, a 47 percent decrease in energy use annually which prevents the emission of 714 lbs. of nitrogen oxide, 314 lbs. of sulfur oxide and 387 tons of carbon dioxide and 2.5 percent of the building's energy use is derived from on-site solar panels. The Monroe County Crime Lab has set an example for other municipal governments and private companies aiming to develop green building programs.

Solar One - Green Design LabTM (New York County) received an award for their innovative sustainability education program that focuses on the school building itself both as a laboratory for learning and a tool for environmental change. Launched in 2010, this program is empowering New York City school students to be the next generation of more educated and aware environmental stewards. Solar One is a not-for-profit organization created to empower people with the knowledge and resources to advance sustainability in their communities. Solar One has partnered with the New York City Department of Education to deliver the Green Design Lab program which is aligned with the Common Core Standards, National Science and STEM education standards. There are 23 New York City K-12 schools currently participating in the program which includes curricular units focused on energy, materials, air quality, water and food. Each unit develops the student's skills by engaging them in projects within their school. The Green Design Lab program also provides vocational and career training to prepare students for the new green jobs market. This program is achieving many environmental and social benefits including: reducing energy use by more than 900,000 kWh and reducing carbon emissions by 625 metric tons annually; training more than 250 teachers and educating more than 5,000 school students about environmental sustainability and training approximately 700 individuals for green sector jobs. This program serves as a model that can be implemented in any K-12 school in the country.

City of Rome's Canopy Restoration Project (Oneida County) was honored because it inspired a new, city-wide approach to stormwater management that is spurring adaptive reuse of vacant buildings, an increase in property value, pollution reduction and a reinvestment in Rome's urban core. The project was one of the first green infrastructure projects to use a combination of a porous pavement and a sub-soil which are both uniquely manufactured in the United States. As the scientific and environmental benefits of a comprehensive green infrastructure strategy became clear, city leaders embarked on a municipal tree inventory in order to quantify the benefits of their urban canopy. Under this project, the city planted 450 new trees in targeted low-to-moderate income neighborhoods with high housing and population densities. The green infrastructure elements were constructed using a locally-developed sub-surface material and an American-made porous pavement product made out of recycled tires. This combination proved to be crack resistant and rich enough in nutrients that tree roots have flourished underneath the hardscape. The project has significantly decreased stormwater run-off which, in turn, has decreased the amount of pollution entering Wood Creek, the Mohawk River and the NYS Barge Canal. When fully mature, the new trees will capture approximately 695,000 gallons of rainwater and will remove 26,500 tons of carbon dioxide and 430 pounds of air pollutants. This successful project serves as an urban revitalization and green infrastructure model for New York municipalities.

The Golub Corporation/Price Chopper's Corporate Sustainability Model (Schenectady County) was awarded for demonstrating that it is possible to integrate the "triple bottom line" (people, products, planet) concept into every aspect of a company's operation. The corporate headquarters building in Schenectady showcases this commitment. The building includes many innovative green features that have resulted in 42 percent improvement in energy efficiency and a 30 percent reduction in water usage. All construction materials were required to contain at least 32 percent recycled content. Golub is continuously improving its performance and reducing its overall environmental impact by using clean-technologies, building high-performance LEED certified buildings and improving waste stream management. For example, Price Chopper is purchasing 12 million kWh of wind power annually, which offsets approximately 3,100 tons of CO2 emissions. And, by partnering with RailEx, Price Chopper is reducing cross-country trucking of products and saving approximately one million gallons of diesel fuel annually. Price Chopper is now diverting portions of their organic waste materials to manufactures of animal feed. This means that nearly three million pounds of fat and bone and 295,000 pounds of yellow grease have been kept out of landfills. The Golub Corporation is also taking action to protect the world's fisheries by working towards a comprehensive sustainable seafood program. Price Chopper is leading by example and is sharing its expertise with various food associations in neighboring states and is helping communities and other stakeholder organizations achieve their own sustainability goals.

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