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news releases

January 28, 2013

Contact:Larry Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795


(13/P7) TRENTON – The Christie Administration is recognizing environmental, academic, business, science, and civic leaders from across New Jersey for their efforts and commitment to protecting and enhancing the state’s environment. These leaders are being honored with the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards at a ceremony tonight at the New Jersey State Museum.

Among the projects and people honored include Princeton University’s ongoing work toward sustainability, the city of Linden’s redevelopment of a former landfill as a natural area reconnecting residents to urban waterfronts, community-wide efforts to reduce stormwater runoff to Camden’s sewer system, a school that has developed an innovative program to conserve and recycle water, and an environmental commissioner who has spearheaded municipal sustainability projects.

“The Christie Administration is committed to protecting New Jersey’s environment,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin. “Through their dedication to environmental protection, these award winners are setting an example for all of us to follow. We can all learn from them. They are taking actions in their communities to improve our environment. The winners and all of those who participated have set a truly high standard for environmental excellence among all New Jerseyans. Governor Christie and I commend their leadership.’’

This is the 13th annual awards ceremony. Normally held in early December, the 2012 awards ceremony was delayed due to recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

The program became known as the Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards in 2006. 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.


Clean Air
Winner: Princeton University

Princeton University continues to demonstrate commitment to sustainability, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the promotion of energy conservation. The university is recognized for a number of initiatives, including decisions to install heat recovery technology in its cogeneration plant and a 5.3-megawatt solar collector field on 27 acres in West Windsor Township. In addition, the university has completed a six-month audit that evaluated 263 energy projects, of which 170 are slated to move forward; continued the use of aggressive campus design standards for new construction projects; and reduced the number of cars used to commute to campus.

Water Resources
Winner: Willow School, Gladstone

The independent Willow School in Gladstone is a recognized leader among green and sustainable schools, particularly in regards to water management. The school constructed a wetland wastewater management system more than a decade ago. Today, rainwater from the roof is used to flush toilets, and plants are being grown hydroponically in reclaimed septic water. The septic water from the toilets is treated for use in the plant bed before it is returned to the ground. The school planted native, drought-resistant plants in and around the constructed wetlands and reduced the use of impervious surfaces, underground piping and curbing by using vegetated bio-swales, rain gardens and habitat improvements. In addition, the school employs the use of low- flow fixtures and flushers, and waterless urinals.

Healthy Ecosystems
Winner: Drew University, Madison

Drew University transformed its campus and adjacent forest preserve in Madison to restore lost ecosystem services, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity.  Most significant is the ecological restoration of 18 acres of the Drew Forest Preserve, which includes Zuck Arboretum and Hepburn Woods. This restoration program had three components: control of non-native invasive vegetation, erection of a 10-foot-high deer fence to protect 18 forested acres, and the return of missing plant species, most notably through the planting of 2,000 native trees and shrubs. A meadow restoration and rain garden were also initiated in 2012. Drew continues to host student-driven efforts to convert lawns to native plantings. 

Innovative Technology
Winner: RPM Development Group, Montclair

RPM Development Group is a recognized developer of affordable housing. The firm‘s Grand Central development in Orange is the first multi-family Climate Choice building in the state and is a pioneering effort designed to approach net zero energy use. Grand Central provides 70 units of affordable housing that utilize several energy efficient technologies, such as a solar photovoltaic system for power, a solar collector system for pre-heating water, exterior and roof insulation, and heat recovery ventilators. As a result, residents at Grand Central have the lowest energy usage of any RPM property. In addition, the landscaping at Grand Central emphasizes drought-resistant plantings and other design features that help decrease water use, along with low-flow fixtures in the units and common areas.

Land Conservation
Winner: City of Linden

Linden is recognized for its ongoing development of the Hawk Rise Sanctuary, a 95-acre preserve that reconnects residents to the Rahway River and the Arthur Kill. Over time, waterfront areas were filled, turned into landfills or cut off from the public because of industrial uses. The Hawk Rise Sanctuary is a blueprint for turning a former landfill into open space and habitat while providing multiple public uses. Linden and its partners invested over $13.5 million dollars to close and cap their landfill and help restore the Rahway River watershed. Of the 95 preserved acres, 55 acres are grassland converted from the former Linden Landfill. The remainder is salt marsh and wooded wetlands. The sanctuary’s new network of trails, viewing stations, interpretive signs and educational programs connects people with natural areas and wildlife.

Healthy and Sustainable Businesses
Winner: Mannington Mills, Salem

Mannington Mills, a flooring manufacturer in Salem, is a recognized leader of sustainable practices. Most recently, Mannington Mills installed 3.3 acres of solar panels on seven rooftops at their Salem facility and improved freight operations to reduce emissions by joining the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership. In addition, the company reduced water use by converting nearly 30 acres of lawn and agricultural lands to native grasslands and shrub lands. The company has also designed several product lines to be readily recyclable or use raw materials that would have been deposited into landfills. These materials include reclaimed drywall, post-use flooring, recycled magazines, and yarn. The company recycled more than 5,000 tons of materials in 2011 and reduced waste sent to landfills by 12 percent.

Healthy and Sustainable Communities
Winner: Camden SMART Initiative

The Camden Stormwater Management and Resource Training (SMART) initiative was started in 2011 to help address Camden’s issues with stormwater management and aging sewerage infrastructure. A key player in the effort is the Coopers Ferry Partnership. The goal of the initiative is to restore and revitalize Camden’s neighborhoods through the development of a network of programs and projects that address the city’s stormwater management issues. During the past year, the partners addressed flooding and water quality and quantity issues by constructing 19 rain gardens in Camden neighborhoods, hosting several rain garden training sessions, planting hundreds of trees, launching a water conservation program for residents, distributing educational pamphlets to residents, launching a rainwater harvesting initiative that includes demonstrations and rain barrels for residents, and hosting stakeholder meetings.

Environmental Education
Winner: Alder Avenue Middle School, Egg Harbor Township

The Alder Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township demonstrates a strong commitment to healthy, energy-efficient and sustainable school practices that are also part of their curriculum. In 2011, the school district embarked on an energy conservation campaign to reduce energy costs and built an energy conservation program that reduces consumption of electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and water through changes in organizational and human behavior.  As a result, the Egg Harbor Township School District achieved a 29 percent cost savings totaling more than $1 million. The school has integrated studies of the Great Egg Harbor River into its curriculum, established a reforestation replenishment program and implemented a school recycling program. In addition, the school built outdoor classrooms, gardens, and a community teaching garden.  The campus also has a small tree farm, organic garden, rain barrels, a pond, and birdhouses built by students.

Environmental Leadership
Winner: Paul G. Gaffney II, Monmouth University President

Paul G. Gaffney II became President of Monmouth University in 2003. Under his leadership, Monmouth became the first independent university in New Jersey to sign a voluntary agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to build a healthy and sustainable campus community. As part of this agreement, the University is aligning its campus planning efforts with the State Development and Redevelopment Plan and Monmouth County’s Growth Management Guide. The university recently installed solar panels on seven buildings and roofs on six buildings were coated with a specialized material to reduce energy costs. The university has a student-sponsored campus rain garden and installed Greenopolis Miser machines, kiosks that reward those who recycle with redeemable points. Monmouth has expanded its recycling program and participates in RecycleMania, a national recycling competition. During President Gaffney’s tenure, the University was featured in the 2012 Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges.

Environmental Stewardship
Winner: Leonard Berkowitz, Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission

Leonard Berkowitz is a retired chemical engineer who has served as chairman and co-chairman of the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission for 12 years. Under his leadership, the environmental commission conducted energy audits of municipal buildings and worked with the township administration to install energy-efficient lighting. The environmental commission also established benchmarks for developing a municipal carbon footprint and installed signs to discourage idling in identified problem areas. The commission has also inventoried land conservation easements and sent letters to homeowners to remind them of their obligations to preserve easements, developed a policy list for energy-saving behaviors for the township's policy manual, created a vision statement and long-term plan for environmental protection, and performed a study that quantified the economic benefit of tree canopy to the township.

Clean Water New Jersey Award
Winner: South Jersey Transportation Authority

The South Jersey Transportation Authority operates the Atlantic City Expressway and Brigantine Connector, which includes over 182 lane miles. The authority completed an extensive project to map and inspect some 3,100 stormwater structures. The project determined GPS locations for each structure, and incorporated the use of a new computer program to track their maintenance.  The authority also purchased new equipment for cleaning these structures. In addition, the authority planted more than 30 acres of wildflowers at various locations and conducted several stormwater outreach programs for local schools and the public.

To learn more about the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards visit:

MEDIA NOTE: Ceremony photos will be posted on the DEP main website. Media may download these photos or request additional photos by contacting the DEP Press Office.



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Last Updated: January 17, 2013