2013 Environmental Excellence Award Winners
Advanced Climate Technologies (ACT) Bioenergy, LLC (Schenectady County):
Wood being chipped for burning
ACT Bioenergy LLC is setting industry standards by being the first manufacturer in the United States to produce high-efficiency, gasification-type boiler systems that are 10-20 percent more efficient and produce one-third of the emissions of conventional wood boiler systems. The ACT Bioenergy Boiler is suitable for burning wood chips, wood pellets and selected agricultural residuals. At least 24 biomass boilers have been installed in New York to date, achieving significant environmental and economic benefits. These boilers save at least 300,000 gallons of heating oil annually, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 4,000 tons each year and cuts particulate air emissions by 300 percent as compared to conventional biomass boiler systems. Generally, biomass products are locally sourced, therefore local economies see economic benefits. ACT is an industry leader in promoting a greater understanding about efficient biomass energy and generating interest in using it as a cost-effective method to achieve renewable energy goals.
Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District (Delaware County):
Flood damaged stream
Stream after intervention
Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District's Post-Flood Emergency Stream Intervention Program is a critically-needed, innovative, and sustainable flood response protocol and pre-flood training program. This "stream triage" sets standards and practices for the period immediately following a flood. Moreover, these same principles and methods can be applied to other municipal work in and around streams, such as bridge and culvert work. Municipalities using this new protocol learn how to work with the stream's natural tendencies, and post-flood responders obtain knowledge and guidance that serves as a basis for an environmentally and economically sound post-flood response. The Post-Flood Emergency Stream Intervention protocol has gained broad acceptance by both municipalities and regulatory agencies. Using the protocol and training program, local stream responders can scientifically assess the need for intervention and use their knowledge to perform work that protects aquatic resources consistent with the streams natural tendencies.
Gotham Greens Farms, LLC (Kings County):
Greenhouse on rooftop
Locally grown produce
Gotham Greens has successfully brought a technologically sophisticated, energy-efficient, "green" agri-business to an industrial neighborhood in Brooklyn. This sustainable urban agriculture project is the United States' first commercial-scale, urban rooftop facility in the U.S. growing pesticide-free produce that does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Gotham Greens has emerged as a leader in the growing urban agriculture movement across the country and has demonstrated excellent innovation and leadership in creating green collar jobs and promoting clean technology and urban agriculture. This sustainable project is achieving impressive environmental, economic and social benefits, including saving approximately 5 million gallons of water annually and eliminating all agricultural runoff. The company uses an on-site solar PV system, which saves 76,000 kWh of electricity a year, and has also eliminated the need for long-distance, refrigerated food transportation, saving nearly 400,000 gallons of fuel annually.
Onondaga County's Save the Rain Program (Onondaga County):
Civic strip before picture
Civic strip after project
Onondaga County has transformed the "civic strip" in downtown Syracuse into a green infrastructure corridor. Several marquee projects for the county's Save the Rain program are located within the civic strip, including a 66,000-square-foot green roof, a water reuse cistern system, bioretention plantings, underground infiltration systems and porous pavement. Additionally, several innovative green energy technologies have been incorporated, including LED lighting, solar-powered trash compaction and electric car charging stations. Save the Rain features an innovative and comprehensive combined sewer overflow (CSO) abatement program that integrates conventional wastewater/stormwater treatment technologies with advanced green infrastructure practices to improve water quality in the Onondaga Lake watershed. The civic strip projects are capturing approximately 6.2 million gallons of stormwater annually, resulting in an energy savings of approximately 12,450 kilowatt hours each year.
Schoharie River Center (Montgomery County):
The Schoharie River Center is a small and unique not-for-profit organization that empowers young people in a comprehensive Environmental Study Team (EST) youth development program. The center has demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to develop environmentally literate, self-directed individuals who are able to identify and work toward positive life goals and achieve constructive change in their lives. While the Environmental Study Team program is open to all interested youth, the program specifically engages at-risk and underserved youth from the urban and rural areas of the flood-impacted Mohawk River/Schoharie Valley area. More than 800 students from four counties and nine school districts have been trained to use federal and state stream monitoring protocols. This small, unique grassroots education center also provides hands-on, professionally-supervised outdoor learning activities, community-based archeology research, folk art demonstrations and workshops that showcase traditional artists, crafts and music. The center is committed to educating people about local history and traditional culture, natural history, environmental issues and the relationship between the natural environment and human activity in the watershed.
Youths collecting water samples
Teen working in lab
News article headlining
Environmental Study Team's work
Southampton Advocates for the Village Environment's (SAVE) (Suffolk County):
Pollution from single use, plastic bags
Reusable shopping bag
This small, volunteer committee in the Village of Southampton led an effort to enact the Reusable Shopping Bag Program -- the first municipal program to prohibit single-use, plastic, grocery-sized shopping bags. The Village of Southampton has set an example for municipalities and businesses across New York. Through a successful campaign that enlisted support from retailers and the entire village community, the village's ordinance has achieved a 98 percent compliance rate by retailers, restaurants and stores, which translates into the elimination of at least 110,000 plastic shopping bags annually. The streets and beaches of the Village of Southampton are no longer littered with plastic bags, and the quality of the local marine waters has improved significantly.
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (Duchess County):
Omega Center for Sustainable Living
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living is an example of sustainable architecture and design, and is the nation's first green building to achieve both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certification. The center houses a natural wastewater reclamation facility that treats water by mimicking the processes in nature. This system treats more than 5 million gallons of wastewater annually and its rainwater collection system captures nearly 5,000 gallons of rainwater, which offsets nearly all of the center's yearly water consumption. In addition, the roof-top solar panels supply 100 percent of the center's electricity needs, and through a comprehensive waste reduction program, approximately 26 tons of non-food waste is recycled and about 113 tons of food waste is composted annually. In addition, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living serves as an educational resource for more than 5,000 visitors each year.
TurnKey Internet, Inc. (Albany County):
Roof-top solar panels
TurnKey green data center
By the year 2020, the data center and cloud hosting industry is expected to surpass the airline industry as the largest greenhouse gas polluter. TurnKey Internet Inc.'s innovative green data center project sets a benchmark for the data center industry to offset the expected trend. TurnKey transformed a vacant, former post office building into a high-tech, sustainable data center. With a roof-top solar array and cutting-edge technologies, the best hardware available to minimize energy consumption, this data center is minimizing its power consumption and has a zero-carbon footprint. TurnKey's green data center is one of only two ENERGY STAR® certified data centers in New York and one of just 39 in the United States. The company is saving more than 1 million kWh of electricity per year, which has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 765 metric tons annually. TurnKey serves as a model of excellence by setting a high sustainability standard for companies in the technology sector.