CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION RECOGNIZES NEW JERSEY ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS
AT 14th ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY AT STATE MUSEUM
(13/P103) TRENTON – The Christie Administration is recognizing environmental, academic, business, science, and civic leaders from across New Jersey for their commitment to protect and enhance the state’s environment. These leaders were honored with the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards at a ceremony this afternoon at the New Jersey State Museum.
Among projects honored include Raritan Valley Community College’s campus commitment to green initiatives; the Barnegat Township’s School District’s comprehensive energy savings program; Montgomery Township Environmental Commission’s dedication to improved recycling; Salem County’s farmland preservation milestone; the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee’s watershed protection and restoration efforts in Morris County; Prudential Financial Inc.’s environmental business model; and the fervent leadership of a young Bergen County man who is making an environmental difference in our state.
“The Christie Administration is committed to protecting New Jersey’s environment,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin. “Through their dedication to environmental protection, these award winners set an example for everyone to follow. The winners and all of those who participated have set a very high standard for environmental excellence. Governor Christie and I commend their leadership.’’
Commissioner Martin was joined by former Governor James Florio at today’s event.
This is the 14th year that the DEP has hosted an environmental leadership awards program. The program is co-sponsored by the DEP and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology, in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
A panel of judges accepted and reviewed scores of nominations that featured unique or valuable environmental projects and activities.
GOVERNOR’S ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS
Raritan Valley Community College
In 2009, Raritan Valley Community College in Somerset County signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pledging to implement green initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment. The school calculates it has reduced its carbon footprint by the equivalent of 22,579 metric tons since signing the agreement. The college accomplishes its goals through an on-campus co-generation plant, a solar array, energy efficiency lighting and equipment, green energy purchasing, energy reduction, and car and van pooling incentives. It also has two electric-car charging stations. Raritan Valley has received several awards recognizing its green initiatives.
Whippany River Watershed Action Committee
The Whippany River Watershed Action Committee is comprised of 12 municipalities in the Whippany River watershed, which encompasses 16 miles of river and almost 70 square miles of watershed in Morris County. The organization received funds from the DEP to develop a watershed protection and restoration plan, and went above and beyond that plan. The committee converted two conventional detention basins into bio-retention basins. They also conducted an extensive amount of modeling, sampling and analysis of water quality data to help prioritize future projects. The committee is also looking into establishing a method to track microbial pathogens in the watershed.
Atlantic County Department of Regional Planning and Development
Several years ago Atlantic County government faced the challenge of providing compensatory wetlands mitigation to offset wetlands disturbances caused by their transportation infrastructure program. So the county undertook a mitigation bank site selection study that selected the Burman property, a 37-acre fallow agricultural area adjacent to Lakes Creek in Egg Harbor Township, as land for a wetlands mitigation bank. The property consists of freshwater, brackish and saltwater areas. Credits accrued through the construction of the bank will be debited against required mitigation with the county’s infrastructure improvements.
Barnegat Township School District
The Barnegat Township School District embraces energy conservation programs that use technology in innovative ways to help reduce energy use and save money. The district has an Energy Savings Improvement Plan; utilizes solar panels; and has a partnership with Cenergistic, a private firm that focuses on energy use reduction. This effort has resulted in a $1.9 million, or 40 percent, energy cost savings. The program has been the impetus for lighting and equipment upgrades that will provide estimated cost savings to the district of more than $350,000 over a 15-year period. The district also recently installed solar panels at all six of its schools. In just one month, the panels generated 990,597 kilowatts.
Salem County and its Board of Freeholders this year are celebrating the preservation of 30,000 acres of farmland, a significant milestone in this rural county. In 1989 the Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed a $1 million bond issue that launched the county on decades of preservation efforts that included working closely with the State Agriculture Development Board to compete against other counties for acquisition funds. The county also partnered with DEP’s Green Acres Program and other state and federal conservation organizations to promote exchanges and farmer donations of land values to stretch preservation dollars. Six of nine municipalities in Salem County now provide a cost share to the program. These efforts have helped protect environmentally sensitive lands along the Delaware Bay, the Delaware River and Oldmans Creek.
Healthy and Sustainable Communities
Montgomery Township Environmental Commission
Formed in 1969, Montgomery Township’s Environmental Commission has long taken an active role in advocating environmental awareness. The commission consults with municipal government staff and elected officials in taking an active role in local decisions, and has also been very active in community outreach. In 2010, the commission engaged in efforts to boost recycling rates. Commission members met with businesses to discuss their activities and educate them about the need to report their recycling tonnage. The commission also organized special community recycling days for electronic waste and other household items and conducted public outreach through mailings, displays, posters, websites, programs and email blasts. As a result, recycling rates have increased significantly in the township.
Healthy and Sustainable Businesses
Prudential Financial Inc.
In 2009, Newark-based Prudential Financial Inc. issued a corporate-wide environmental commitment to foster use of clean and renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company has implemented efforts to foster environmental stewardship, including investing more than $2.5 billion in clean energy and solar array projects; recycling more than 900 tons of material from its New Jersey operations in 2012; constructing a gold LEED-certified corporate property in Newark; sponsoring local environmental programs and events; educating employees about sustainable practices; and encouraging employees to volunteer service to local parks and communities.
New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station, Rutgers University
The New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) is the research and outreach arm of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Staff members deliver educational programs that focus on agriculture, fisheries, community outreach, youth development, food, nutrition and health, and workforce development. Extension faculty members have developed a training program for rain garden specialists, demonstration rain gardens, and community rain garden walking tours. In addition, NJAES developed online training tools and a certification program for the lawn-care industry to help the DEP implement the state’s fertilizer use law. NJAES also developed online pollution and agriculture courses for undergraduate students, public education efforts about impacts from stormwater, and integrated pest management strategies.
Environmentalist of the Year
Eric J. Fuchs-Stengel
Eric J. Fuchs-Stengel is the founder and executive director of the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO). Fuchs-Stengel founded the organization in 2008, when he was a junior in high school. His goal is to educate residents in Mahwah and throughout New Jersey about being environmental stewards, and to engage them in volunteer projects. Fuchs-Stengel has engaged some 1,500 volunteers who have volunteered more than 20,000 hours to community projects, including trash and tire cleanups, trail construction projects, education projects on community farming and beekeeping, and recycling bins and compost system projects.
MEVO is now working with the Bergen County Parks Department on a community farm project.
For more information about the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/eeawards/