Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

New York State Environmental Excellence Awards

Environmental Excellence Awards 2018

Apply Now!

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is accepting applications for the 2020 New York State Environmental Excellence Awards. Completed applications must be submitted no later than Friday, May 15, 2020.

General Application Information

This awards program recognizes those who are implementing innovative, sustainable actions or working in creative partnerships to improve and protect New York State's environment and contribute to a healthier economy. Successful candidates will demonstrate significant and measurable environmental, economic and social benefits as a result of new and unique projects or programs that go beyond standard techniques or regulatory requirements. An award ceremony will provide winners with an opportunity to present information and display materials about their projects.

Eligible Applicants:

  • Businesses (small, medium and large businesses, manufacturing, power generation, retail, agri-business, renewable energy, hospitality etc.)
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Not-for-Profit Organizations
  • Educational Institutions
  • Government - Local, State (except NYSDEC), Federal or Indian Nation

Eligible Projects Must:

  • Be located in New York State.
  • Have been initiated within the past three years and have been fully operational for one year.
    NOTE: Long-term projects (i.e., those initiated prior to 2017) may be considered. Applications must focus on new and measurable environmental benefits achieved in the past three years.
  • Be submitted by an applicant who is in good standing with the Environmental Conservation Law and pertinent local laws (if applicable). Compliance history will be considered.
  • Be submitted in the required format and include documented metrics.
  • Be submitted by an applicant who agrees to allow a summary of their accomplishments to be published.
  • Be in good standing with DEC and in full compliance with the Environmental Conservation Law currently and for the previous three years. Applicants shall not be involved in any litigation against DEC or with the State of New York within the past seven years

Application Requirements

  • Completed Application Cover Sheet and Application Checklist (PDF, 299KB)
  • Application Narrative (not to exceed 10-pages)
    • Executive Summary (Maximum 1-page)
    • General Project Description
    • Innovation, Sustainability and/or Partnerships
    • Superior Practices
    • Measurable Environmental, Economic and Social Benefits
    • Commitment and Leadership in Pursuit of Environmental Excellence
    • Transferability to Other Users
    • Funding Sources
    • Other Details
  • Supporting Information (if applicable, such as photos, maps, diagrams, press clips, letters, etc.)
  • If an applicant would like to submit multiple projects for consideration, a separate application must be submitted for each project.

Application Format

  • Prepare the Application Narrative in Microsoft Word or as an original PDF. Include the fillable Application Cover Sheet and Application Checklist (PDF, 299KB). Do Not Submit a Scanned Application. Only supporting information may be scanned.
  • Limit your application to 10 pages, including a 1-page Executive Summary. Font size should not be smaller than 10-point. Supporting documentation (photos, maps, diagrams, press clips, letters, etc.) will not count against the page limit.
  • If an applicant would like to submit multiple projects for consideration, a separate application must be submitted for each project.

How to Submit an Application

  • Submit an electronic copy by Friday, May 15, 2020 to awards@dec.ny.gov
  • Application package shall include a completed Cover Sheet & Application Checklist and Application Narrative.
  • Applicants will receive an electronic notification confirming receipt of application materials.

Schedule

  • Applications MUST be electronically submitted no later than Friday May 15, 2020.
  • Application Review in Spring 2020.
  • Awards Celebration in Fall 2020.

Application Review Criteria

Applications are subject to an eligibility review, a program/technical review and a compliance review (if applicable) conducted by DEC staff. Applications are also evaluated by a statewide review panel with members representing businesses, academia, government, and non-government organizations.

The review process includes an assessment of the following criteria. However, due to the various types of projects/programs in applications, some criteria may not apply.

  • The project has achieved significant and measurable environmental, economic and social benefits that are documented by quantified metrics.
  • The project improves, protects or makes a significant contribution to the sustainability of New York State's natural resources or provides an improved quality of life; improvements are documented by metrics.
  • The project involves unique or creative partnerships.
  • The project demonstrates outstanding creativity or innovation or introduces new approaches.
  • The project applicant demonstrates leadership in their field/sector.
  • The project clearly demonstrates how the project or program goes beyond standard techniques or regulatory compliance standards.
  • The project is environmentally sound and economically feasible.
  • The applicant is sharing information about the project so that others can achieve and contribute to the environmental benefits already achieved.
  • For long-term projects (those initiated prior to 2017), focus on the environmental, economic and/or social benefits achieved within the past three years and/or explain how the project is a model for other successful projects.

QUESTIONS? (518) 402-8706 or via e-mail at awards@dec.ny.gov

Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony scheduled in November. Those receiving awards will be asked to present and display information about their award-winning project or program. Some benefits of receiving an award include enhanced visibility as a sector leader and furthering your organization's mission through networking and marketing opportunities. For additional information, contact the Pollution Prevention Unit at awards@dec.ny.gov or call (518) 402-8706.

Gore Mountain, awarded in 2018, has the largest solar array dedicated to a ski area in the nation. About 15,000 ground-mounted solar panels, on 20 acres of otherwise fallow farmland, supply the mountain with 5.3 megawatts of power.
Gore Mountain Ski Resort, honored in 2018,
for making sunshine into snow.

Tips for Applicants

Instructions for a Successful Application

Each applicant must submit the APPLICATION COVER SHEET/CHECKLIST FORM . Applicants should write in plain language and avoid the use of technical jargon. Applications MUST provide clear, measurable and documented metrics (in the Measurable Benefits section) and adhere to the format requirements specified in the above instructions. Please limit your application to 10-pages, including a 1-page Executive Summary.

Use the following guidelines when developing the application.

Executive Summary (maximum 1 page): 

  • Summarize the main points of the project. 
  • Include specific descriptions of the environmental, economic and social benefits. 
  • For long-term projects (those initiated prior to 2017), focus on the benefits achieved within the past three years and explain how the project is a model for other successful projects.

General Project Description:

  • Provide project location (street, city, county). 
  • Include a detailed project description, including how the project protects the environment or increases the stewardship of New York State's natural resources. 
  • Include a description of any economic and social benefits achieved by the project. 
  • Identify the motivation for undertaking the project. 
  • Describe outreach and/or training efforts used and how those efforts benefitted the project.

Innovation, Sustainability and/or Partnerships:

  • What makes the project innovative and/or sustainable?
  • Have unique partnerships been developed? How have the partnerships resulted in constructive solutions to environmental challenges?
  • What measurable environmental, economic or social benefits have resulted?
  • How has the project increased the sustainable use of New York State's natural resources?
  • How has the project increased the organization's capacity to advance sustainability?
  • How has an academic or educational project contributed to a trained workforce that is advancing innovation and/or sustainability?
Environmental Excellence Definitions
Innovation Sustainability Partnerships
Practices that exemplify outstanding creativity, introduce new approaches, or advance emerging technologies. Environmentally sound and economically feasible projects that demonstrate successful application of new practices and tools that result in measurable environmental and economic benefits. Practices serve as a model for others. Practices that achieve environmental quality, economic prosperity, and social well-being. Practices should benefit natural systems and conserve resources. For example, practices that use natural resources at rates not exceeding natural replenishment or waste disposal not exceeding the natural assimilative capacity of the ecosystem. The focus is on actions that have a positive effect on the "triple bottom line." Practices that demonstrate a unique or creative relationship between two or more parties that allow them to work together to make better use of natural resources, develop innovative solutions, or advance sustainable actions that achieve measurable benefits.

Superior Practices

  • Describe the practices that achieve an environmental benefit beyond what could be achieved using standard techniques.
  • If applicable, describe how the project achieved an environmental benefit by exceeding the applicant's regulatory requirements.
  • Explain how the project, approach or technology is superior to what others are doing.

Measurable Environmental, Economic and Social benefits

Applications must include documented metrics.

Describe the significant environmental, economic and social benefits achieved as a result of the project. The list of metrics below has been provided as a starting point. Each metric category may not apply to every project. There may be other relevant metrics that are not listed. Presenting metrics in the manner suggested will add credibility to the application.

For long-term projects (i.e., those initiated prior to 2017), metrics must focus on measurable benefits achieved in the past three years.

To the extent that data is available, present metrics in absolute terms with associated dates. Include both a baseline value (start date) and an achieved value (end date). Providing a percent reduction is optional. Including absolute data will make for a more competitive application. Example: The project resulted in a reduction of total non-transportation energy use from 225,000 KWh in 2015 to 190,000 KWh in 2018, a reduction of more than 15%.

  • Supply Chains and Procurement of Materials:
    • Recycled content required (in pounds, tons or percentage)
    • Hazardous or toxic materials used (in pounds or tons)
    • Information about the suppliers' environmental performance such as if suppliers have any
      environmental certifications or Environmental Management Strategy (EMS)
  • Materials Reductions:
    • Hazardous Materials replaced with non-hazardous materials (in pounds or tons)
    • Ozone depleting substances replaced with non-ozone depleting materials (in pounds or tons)
    • Non-renewable resources reduced (as appropriate)
    • Total packaging used or reduced (in pounds or tons)
    • Total water used and water use reductions (gallons)
    • Total non-transportation energy saved (kWh, MWh or Btu/MMBtu)
    • Transportation energy reductions (kWh/MWh, gallons, cubic feet)
  • Air Emissions:
    • Total greenhouse gases reduced
    • Volatile Organic Compounds reduced (in pounds or tons)
    • NOx, Sox, PM2.5, PM10, Air Toxics, Radiation, Dust reduced (in pounds or tons)
  • Water Discharges:
    • Chemical Oxygen Demand or Biological Oxygen Demand reductions (in pounds or tons)
    • Toxics reduction (in pounds or tons)
    • Total suspended solids reduced (TSS) (in pounds or tons)
    • Nutrient reductions (in pounds, tons or total nitrogen or phosphorus)
    • Sediment reduction (in pounds or tons)
    • Pathogen reduction (in MPN/ml, CFU/ml)
  • Water Conservation:
    • Gray water collection and reuse
    • Rain water collection and reuse
    • Installing low-flow fixtures and aerators and/or flushometers
  • Waste Reduction:
    • Hazardous or non-hazardous waste reductions and give management method used (in pounds or tons)
    • Materials reduced, reused, recycled or composted (in pounds or tons)
  • Land and Habitat Conservation and Protection:
    • Habitat saved, protected and/or created (in acres)
    • Open space protection or creation (in acres)
    • Invasive species removed (name and quantity)
    • Sensitive species protected or reintroduced (by name and quantity)
    • Improvements to natural resource stewardship (describe)
  • Environmental Equality and Environmental Justice:
    • Environmental equity or environmental justice issues resolved or reduced (identify and describe)
    • Community benefits to a low-income, minority or tribal community (identify and describe)
  • Social Benefits:
    • Improvements to working conditions such as reduced exposures, employee training in sustainable living, implementing sustainability programs for employees etc. (identify and provide absolute numbers to the degree possible, such as the number of staff trained)
    • Benefits to employees for taking sustainable actions such as taking alternative or public transportation, car-pooling, driving a hybrid or electric car etc. (identify actions and provide the number of employees taking the actions and benefits received)
    • Level of employee engagement in "greening" operations or work-place practices (provide specific descriptions and level of engagement)
  • Outreach, Education or Training Events:
    • Workshops, meetings, conferences, training sessions (describe purpose and number of attendees).
    • Behavior changes (describe specifically using absolute numbers if possible).
    • Increased awareness or understanding of sustainable practices and actions (describe specifically using absolute numbers if possible)
  • Economic Benefits:
    • Financial savings derived including materials, labor, energy, machinery, transportation, administrative, waste, management, other process costs etc. (in dollars)
    • Ecosystem services such as energy savings, CO2 capture value, air quality improvement value, storm water mitigation value, climate change mitigation value, aesthetic and property values (quantify benefits in terms of dollars saved or value generated).

Commitment and Leadership in Pursuit of Environmental Excellence:

  • Describe how the project demonstrates the applicant's commitment to sustainability and leadership to achieve and maintain innovative solutions to environmental and economic challenges.
  • Describe written policies or management practices that demonstrate continued commitment and leadership in protecting the environment.
  • Describe employee engagement, education or training aspects of the program/project.
  • Describe any technical assistance provided or received and its effect on the project.
  • Describe the organization's financial commitment and the financial commitment of the parent company or organization to the project beyond any grant or other outside funding source(s). Is the project self-sustaining and on-going?

Transferability to Other Users:

  • Indicate whether the program/project lends itself to replication by other organizations or individuals.
  • Indicate whether any project activities or results are currently being shared with others.
  • For long-term projects (i.e., those initiated prior to 2017), explain how the project serves as a model for other successful projects.

Funding Sources:

  • Provide a breakdown of the organization's financial commitment, including the financial commitment of the parent company or organization to the project.
  • Provide information about any creative financing techniques or examples of how additional funds were leveraged (i.e., grants, loans, donations etc.).
  • Discuss the cost and economic benefits of your program; please be as specific as possible.

Other Details:

  • Describe any new processes or equipment developed specifically for this project.
  • Discuss any operational, product or maintenance improvements as a result of the project.
  • Include web-links, photos, illustrations and/or an easily understandable schematic that will assist reviewers in understanding the technical elements of the project.

Supporting Information:

Provide links to additional photos, maps, diagrams, videos, press clips, letters only if these materials clearly support the application.

Get Inspired

Become part of an elite, statewide network of award winners! Since 2004, the program has honored 92 outstanding organizations for significant environmental benefits. Award-winning projects showcase applicants who are:

  • Implementing innovative approaches and technologies
  • Advancing sustainable practices and generating economic growth
  • Harnessing the power of unique partnerships
  • Achieving extraordinary outcomes
  • Inspiring others to undertake like-minded projects

Project topics include but are not limited to:

  • Green infrastructure projects
  • Initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Adaptations and mitigations to climate change
  • Cutting-edge, "clean-tech" and pollution prevention technologies
  • Initiatives to create sustainable businesses, farms, schools, health-care and recreational facilities, etc.
  • Innovative wind, solar, biomass or other renewable energy projects
  • Creative natural resource/habitat protection or restoration efforts
  • Energy efficiency improvements
  • Innovative education/training programs
  • Innovative waste reduction, recycling and reuse efforts
  • Manufacturing process improvements
  • Advances in Green Chemistry Manufacturing and least-hazardous chemical use
  • Creative approaches to advance sustainable agriculture and/or sustainable food systems

For details about past award winning projects, read the case studies below or refer to the 2004 - 2014 "Who's Who" Winners (PDF, 11.3 MB). If you would like more information about business and government award winners, contact the Pollution Prevention Unit at awards@dec.ny.gov or call (518) 402-9469.

Being an award winner gives your organization or business more visibility. Read about three award winners showcased in the February 2018 Conservationist magazine (page 14) (PDF, 13.2 MB).

2019 Award Winners:

Awarded in 2018, Stony Brook University Hospital’s 2, 240 sq. ft. rooftop garden supplies about 1,500 lbs. of fresh produce for patient meals..
A rooftop produce garden at Stony Brook
University Hospital, honored in 2018.

Four organizations were recognized at 16th Annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards Celebration. The awards were presented at Pat's Barn in Troy, New York. The slate of honorees set a high bar for others in their sector by increasing sustainability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using energy more efficiently and safeguarding New York's natural resources.

To read about them, see our 2019 press release (link leaves DEC website).

Past Award Winners:

2018 press release

2017 press release

2015 press release (link leaves DEC website)

2004 - 2014 "Who's Who" Winners (PDF, 11.3 MB)

DECinfo Locator - See all award winners from 2010 - 2019 mapped under "public involvement."


More about New York State Environmental Excellence Awards: