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State of New Jersey

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2019 Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards! The awards ceremony and luncheon were held on Monday, December 9, at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. Descriptions and photos for each of our winners are below. Special thanks to our sponsors, the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology, and our partner, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

The Richard J. Sullivan Award honors a New Jersey resident who demonstrates exceptional leadership and outstanding accomplishment in safeguarding public health, protecting and enhancing New Jersey’s diverse natural resources and creating vibrant, sustainable communities that provide economic opportunity for all.

In its second year, the Sullivan Award goes to former Governors Thomas H. Kean and James J. Florio, both staunch advocates of the environment. The award will be presented to Kean and Florio in April, as part of the DEP's 50th birthday celebration.

Thomas H. Kean

Recipient: The Honorable Thomas H. Kean

In 1989, Gov. Thomas H. Kean signed the first executive order that addressed climate change and global warming.

He served as Governor from 1982-1990, but his efforts to protect the environment reached back to his days in the State legislature. He pushed through legislation in 1971 that increased penalties for unauthorized development of riparian lands and, as New Jersey Assembly Speaker, was the prime sponsor of the Coastal Area Facility Review Act, which regulates coastal development. He also helped write and was the prime sponsor of legislation creating the Department of Environmental Protection.

During his gubernatorial tenure, Kean successfully promoted legislation to protect wetlands and spent more than any other state to clean up sites contaminated by toxic waste. He signed the Worker Community Right to Know Act in 1983, requiring manufactures to list the chemical names of all hazardous chemicals with which workers could come in contact; and, in the same year, issued an executive order to protect the public from radon. He signed a law in 1987 to stop raw sewage going into the ocean and spent more than three-quarters of a billion dollars to clean up the state’s coastal waters.

He remains active on environmental issues, serving as vice chairman of the Environmental Defense Fund and, with Florio, is honorary co-chair of the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance at Rutgers University.

James J. Florio

Recipient: The Honorable James J. Florio

During his four-year term as governor of New Jersey, James J. Florio signed what is considered one of the nation’s strongest environmental laws of its type – the state’s Clean Water Enforcement Act.

The policy, which became law in 1990, set mandatory penalties for violations of water pollution permits. It also was a model for legislation that reauthorized the federal Clean Water Act.

Florio’s tenure – he served from 1990 to 1994 – also saw the adoption of the State Development and Redevelopment Plan. The purpose of the legislation was to “coordinate planning activities and establish statewide planning objectives” in areas that include land use, housing, natural resource conservation, agriculture and farmland retention, urban and suburban redevelopment, and historic preservation.

Prior to becoming governor, Florio served in the state Assembly and then the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the First District. As a member of Congress, he authored the Comprehensive Response Compensation and Liability Act, known commonly as the Superfund law, prioritizing remediation of the nation’s most contaminated sites. He also wrote and steered passage of an amendment to the National Parks and Recreation Act, creating New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve. The federal amendment helped protect approximately 1.1 million acres and established a planning process to preserve the region’s natural resources.

He remains a passionate speaker and advocate on protecting the environment. Along with Kean, he serves as honorary co-chair of the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance. He received the prestigious Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Foundation in 1993.

This award is presented to a nominee who demonstrates a commitment to and experience in one or more of the following areas and activities:

  • Reducing air pollution emissions and/or reducing outdoor exposure to toxic air contaminants;
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions or equivalents through energy efficiency projects, clean energy vehicles, technologies and infrastructure, or green power purchases to reduce climate change; and
  • Reducing air deposition loading to land and water.
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, President/CEO Rashaad Bajwa and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: Domain Computer Services

Domain Computer Services, a Cranbury technology solutions company, is working to reduce its environmental impact by using and promoting electric vehicles. The company's commitment to going green began in 2012, when Domain founder and CEO Rashaad Bajwa introduced electric cars to its fleet. Today, the company has 10 electric vehicles - and employees are encouraged to use them not only for business, but in their everyday lives, to promote a cleaner environment. Domain also has five electric vehicle chargers at its offices and participates in New Jersey's It Pay$ to Plug In, a charging station grants program. The company estimates that it has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 348,000 pounds since replacing its gasoline-powered fleet with electric vehicles.

This award is presented to a nominee who demonstrates a positive influence in one or more of the following areas and activities:

  • Improving surface or ground water quality through stormwater and wastewater management strategies and technologies;
  • Reducing children’s exposure to lead in homes/schools or addressing emerging drinking water contaminants;
  • Ensuring sufficient quantities of water through reuse and conservation techniques, infrastructure; and
  • Promoting or developing land use policies, watershed management approaches and green infrastructure projects to improve the protection of water sources or to reduce the impacts of flooding and sea level rise.
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, Principal Brian Marshall, Principal Susan Marshall and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: Garden Magic LLC

How your garden grows - in an environmentally friendly way - may depend on whose advice you're following. Garden Magic LLC, of Mountain Lakes, provides practical, in-the-garden assistance to homeowners, master gardeners, community organizations and landscaping groups. Company principals Susan and Brian Marshall specialize in water resources engineering and native plant horticulture, which they use to create rain gardens and other watershed protection projects, including a state-of-the-art rain garden installed at historic St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Mountain Lakes. The rain garden collects stormwater from the church and rectory roofs, the rectory driveway, surrounding lawn and gardens, and two adjacent properties. It is expected to capture more than 200,000 gallons of runoff each year.

This award is presented to a nominee who demonstrates a commitment to and experience in programs or techniques that have resulted in the restoration, protection and resiliency of the state’s ecological resources. These resources include wetlands, estuaries and coastal areas, as well as habitats (land and water-based) for non-game and/or threatened and endangered species.
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, Coordinator Lisa Ferguson, Volunteer Sandra Anderson and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: reTURN the Favor New Jersey

From sunset to sunrise, they roam Delaware Bay beaches in search of stranded horseshoe crabs. Volunteers with reTURN the Favor New Jersey visit these beaches from April through July, during the spawning season, and gently turn the horseshoe crabs onto their legs, pointing the creatures toward the water. The program assists the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife by reducing the loss of spawning horseshoe crabs, increasing public awareness of conservation needs, and collecting data on horseshoe crabs and their habitat. Volunteers also identify stranding hazards and make observations that inform conservation, research and habitat restoration. Since 2013, volunteers have rescued more than 500,000 horseshoe crabs. Partners include Citizens United for the Maurice River and its Tributaries, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Friends of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, M. Wren Consulting, New Jersey Audubon, Rutgers University, The Nature Conservancy, The Wetlands Institute and Executive Office of Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

This award is presented to a nominee who demonstrates a commitment to and experience in the preservation of open space that protects public or private land from future development and/or improves the resiliency of a municipality.
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, New Jersey Conservation Foundation Outreach Director Laura Szwak, Nature Conservancy of New Jersey Director of Lands Program Eric Olsen, Rowan University Director of Geospatial Research Lab John Hasse, Ph.D., and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: New Jersey Conservation Blueprint

Everyone knows that New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation. So how do we figure out how to most effectively work toward conserving the most critical remaining lands? The New Jersey Conservation Blueprint - a data-driven, interactive mapping tool - is meant to help with determining those answers. More than 140 data sets are available, including regional analysis, landowner contacts and funding collaborations, with information as detailed as the parcel level. And all of it is free, accessible with the click of a mouse. The Blueprint was established by a partnership of The Nature Conservancy, Rowan University, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and 22 other conservation leaders from government and the nonprofit sectors.

This award is presented to a nominee who demonstrates a commitment to and experience in one or more of the following activities:
  • Any activity that addresses pollution or waste reduction, recycling, land use, local purchasing, sustainability and resiliency, resource conservation, green infrastructure, habitat restoration and product stewardship;
  • Innovative practices or technologies that have resulted in the private or public sector clean up and redevelopment of contaminated/brownfields sites; and
  • Creation of community-based initiatives that foster involvement, action and effective solutions to the adverse effects of industrial pollution and climate change on overburdened and low-income communities.
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, Owner and Stylist Jacqueline Beaucher, Owner Aaron Beaucher, and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: La Belle Vie Salon

"The beautiful life" is what La Belle Vie Salon strives to provide - in every way. The Gloucester County hair salon not only offers hair and beauty services, but also is committed to reducing its ecological footprint. Since 2017, about 90 percent of the salon's waste has been recycled or repurposed, thanks to its partnership with Green Circle Salons, an environmental company devoted to helping salons become sustainable. At La Belle Vie, excess color waste is separated so that the color can be repurposed and the wastewater used for landscaping. Chemicals are removed from cannisters and metal products, and disposed of properly, while the cannisters are recycled. Hair is recovered and used in materials to help clean up oil spills. The salon also has energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting, and shampoo bowl shower heads that conserve water, reducing water and energy use by 65 percent.

This award is presented to a nominee who demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, one or more of the following activities:
  • Any activity that addresses pollution or waste reduction, recycling, land use, local purchasing, sustainability and resiliency, resource conservation, green infrastructure, habitat restoration and product stewardship;
  • Innovative practices or technologies that have resulted in the private or public sector clean up and redevelopment of contaminated/brownfields sites; and
  • Creation of community-based initiatives that foster involvement, action and effective solutions to the adverse effects of industrial pollution in overburdened and low-income communities.
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, Executive Director Jennifer Coffey, Vice President for Board Development Barbara Simpson Vadnais, and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions

When everyone else is looking at the big picture, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions narrows its focus to this: local environment matters. The nonprofit organization has spent 50 years providing leadership, education and support to New Jersey's environmental commissions, as well as local planning boards and public officials. From educational resources to networking opportunities, ANJEC aims to prepare its members to address challenges ranging from hazardous spills to climate change. The association also has partnered with local, county and state organizations to advocate for strong state and regional environmental policies. But the heart of ANJEC's work is to ensure that every commission understands its local, regional and statewide responsibilities to assure responsible and sustainable use of New Jersey's natural resources and to protect environmental health.

DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, Executive Director Lawrence Feinsod, Ed.D., STEAM and Sustainable Schools Specialist John Henry, President Michael McClure, and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: New Jersey School Boards Association

The writing on the blackboard should read: Sustainable practices do not have to cost the district a lot of money. That is the thinking behind the New Jersey School Boards Association's effort to get the state's public schools focused on advancing environmentally friendly practices in their facilities. The Association represents more than 5,000 members of the state's 581 local boards of education and charter school boards of trustees, which govern the operation of New Jersey's public schools. Since 2011, the organization has not only helped school board members and administrators to learn about sustainability and sustainable practices, but it also works with school teams to create sustainability plans tailored to meet a district's needs, reduce operational costs, improve indoor environmental quality, and infuse sustainability throughout curriculum. The Association offers a New Jersey Sustainable Schools Guidebook, which is a resource for school and district leaders aiming to "green" their facilities.

This award is presented to a nominee who demonstrates implementation of a program or project that has measurable positive impacts in environmental protection and education. One award will be given to an adult educator(s).
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, Watershed Education and Outreach Specialist Kristine Rogers, Watershed Director Nathaniel Sajdak, and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: Wallkill River Watershed Management Group

Remember when summer camp meant days swimming and splashing around in a lake? For students taking part in Stormwater Summer Camp, activities still involve water - but have a "green" goal. The third annual camp, funded by NJ Future and held in July at Marian E. McKeown Elementary School in Hampton, saw students building water filters, getting their hands dirty in the school's 3,865-square-foot rain garden and observing the installation of porous asphalt in the school parking lot. The camp, conducted by the Wallkill River Watershed Management Group (part of the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority), included stormwater-themed STEM activities and off-campus field trips to teach the campers about water pollution and conservation, project planning and design, and stormwater management using nature-based solutions. The efforts at the Sussex County school help to capture stormwater from its facilities so that polluted runoff won't flow into the Paulins Kill River directly across the street.

This award is presented to a nominee who demonstrates implementation of a program or project that has measurable positive impacts in environmental protection and education. One award will be given to students/youth in grades K-12 (student involvement must be emphasized).
DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe, 10th Grade Student Aneesh Nagalkar, 10th Grade Student Ritika Thomas, and NJIB Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: Bridgewater-Raritan High School Students

They call them the Green Ambassadors. Five students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School discovered that flooding from rainwater near one of their school buildings was sending polluted runoff into the Raritan River and decided to do something about it. Digging in to find a solution, the teens - Ritika Thomas, Aneesh Nagalkar, Amogh Jupalli, Sujay Edavalapati and Pravar Jain - determined the best remedy would be a rain garden. Working with environmental experts from Rutgers University and the Raritan Headwaters Association, they created a plan.

The students researched native plants, gathered necessary materials and selected a planting date in mid-July. Accompanied by volunteers from the local elementary, middle and high schools, they dug, mulched, weeded and filled the rain garden with low-maintenance plants. They followed up with a schedule for watering and nurturing the garden's plantings into the school year. The young team also has launched a Green Infrastructure Club at school to educate others about the environment and water quality. The rain garden will serve as a science laboratory for soil, plant and pollutant testing by science classes. The students also want to add a weather station and fencing, and plan to build another rain garden on the school grounds next year to alleviate a similar flooding problem.

To download, right-click on the images below, and select "Save Target As".
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Note: The winner descriptions are compiled from information provided by the award applicants and/or third-party nominators.

  

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Last Updated: December 10, 2019