CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION RECOGNIZES NEW JERSEY ENVIRONMENTAL
LEADERS AT 15th ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY AT STATE MUSEUM
WOODBRIDGE TOWNSHIP MAYOR NAMED ENVIRONMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
(14/P133) TRENTON – The Christie Administration is recognizing environmental, academic, business, government, civic and citizen 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 today at the New Jersey State Museum.
Morris County government was honored for an ambitious flood buyouts program approved by the county freeholders, while Earth Friendly Products of Parsippany won the annual Healthy and Sustainable Businesses Award for its efforts to make its operation a model environmental facility.
Other projects honored today include, campus green initiatives by Monmouth and Georgian Court universities; municipal “greening’’ efforts by a Montgomery Township volunteer; an ambitious environmental education program at the Williamstown Middle School (Gloucester County); a “Trail University’’ program; a green business model offered by DSM Nutritional Products of Belvidere; a sewer infrastructure resiliency project in Monmouth County; a joint effort to create a free flowing Raritan River; and the environmental leadership of a the mayor of Woodbridge in Middlesex County.
“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.’’
The 15th annual awards program is co-sponsored by DEP and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology (NJCAT), in partnership with the State League of Municipalities. NJCAT Technical Director Dr. Richard Magee, an avid supporter of GEEA for the past 15 years, was recognized by Commissioner Martin for dedication to the environment and this awards program.
A panel of judges reviewed and scored nominations that featured unique or valuable environmental projects and activities. For more on GEEA visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/eeawards/
2014 GOVERNOR’S ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS
In 2009, Monmouth University signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement green initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment. The university calculates it has since reduced its footprint by the equivalent of 37,000 metric tons. The college employs two solar electrical systems that generate more than 1 megawatt of electricity, coats roofs of buildings with a material that reduces inside temperatures and lessens cooling power needs, added electric powered golf carts to its campus vehicle fleet, and is piloting a hybrid gas/electric vehicle for campus police. Also, the university offers a minor degree in global sustainability, and offers students opportunities for research and sustainability activities. In 2014 Monmouth University received a $5 million Challenge Grant to increase student research on environmental trends.
John Jengo, MWH Global, Inc., and Gene Meyer, El Paso Corp.
Jengo, a licensed site remediation professional for MWH, and Meyer, Eastern Regional Manager for El Paso Corp. (now Kinder Morgan), worked together on a Natural Resources Damages project to remove three outdated dams from the Raritan River in Somerset County, to make the river free flowing. Included was 2011 removal of the Nevius Street Dam in Raritan Borough, a structure used for 100 years by Duke Farms for water supply to its lake system. The project restored migratory fish passage to spawning grounds in the Raritan River; restored pond ecosystems at Duke Farms; and lowered nutrient levels, which is significant because the ponds are a stopover for migratory birds. Jengo and Meyer deftly side-stepped potential litigation and resolved NRD damage claims resulting from activities at several former industrial sites on the river. This project is a model for effective public-private partnerships.
Ewa Zak, Montgomery Township, Somerset County
Ms. Zak has been a volunteer leader in the “greening’’ of Montgomery Township for 28 years, advocating for tree plantings, tree preservation, hedgerows and green belts. She spearheaded formation of the Shade Tree Committee in 1986 and ensured Committee involvement in planning board applications. She was instrumental in passage of “green’’ ordinances, such as the required planting of 14 trees per-acre in new subdivisions and creation of a Tree Bank financed by funds from developers. Other accomplishments:
- Developed a municipal planting plan for “areas of need’’ that has resulted in the planting of more than 1,700 trees on 40 residential streets.
- Developed an Arbor Day curriculum for 3rd graders (now in its 28th year)
- Responsible for much of the landscaping at the township’s parks
- Spends countless hours choosing tree stock, marking planting locations, supervising installations, and visiting sites to prune and water trees.
Ms. Zak also is “on call” to residents for advice on tree care and often makes “house calls” to assess the health of trees
South Monmouth Regional Sewerage Authority
The South Monmouth Regional Sewerage Authority (SMRSA)’s pump station in Sea Girt suffered repeat damage and power outages due to storm flooding. In 2010, a project team designed a mobile enclosure to make the station more resilient to storms. The mobile facility consists of two rooms, one each for an emergency generator and electrical equipment. During storms, the facility is moved to higher ground while an expendable portable generator and transfer switch power the station. Once the storm subsides, the mobile facility is moved back and hooked up to the pump station. The mobile system minimizes damage, reduces plant down time, and minimizes the potential of sewer overflows. SMRSA estimated $1.5 million dollars in savings since 2010 because there was no substantial damage to the Sea Girt station during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. The design was deemed a best management practice by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Morris County Flood Mitigation Program/ Morris County Freeholders
In response to intense flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011, Morris County created the first countywide program in New Jersey dedicated to acquiring flood-prone homes and land. The county offers grants to buy properties to move residents out of harm’s way and reclaim flood plain acreage to capture and store floodwater. It also helps buffer adjacent homes and businesses from floods, lowers municipal costs for emergency response, and allows homeowners to escape the expensive and destructive cycle of repetitive flooding. Morris County has closed on 43 properties, with another 77 applications in 8 municipalities being processed. Many demolitions and post-preservation park plans have been completed. The program now has $17.3 million earmarked for acquisitions and has gotten more than $29 million in federal and state grants.
Healthy and Sustainable Businesses (1st of 2 winners—a tie)
DSM Nutritional Products, LLC (Belvidere, Warren County)
DSM Nutritional Products (DSM) in Belvidere is a vitamin manufacturer under corporate parent Royal DSM, which encourages sustainable business practices. To reduce air emissions, DSM installed a 10 megawatt natural gas co-generation plant to substantially cut NOx and CO2 emissions, shifted some internal combustion engines that ran on diesel to electric drive, and provided 25 acres for a solar installation. To reduce waste, DSM recycles industrial materials, such as drums, batteries, pallets and all wood; seeks reuse options for unneeded food grade materials, such as plans to divert 30 tons of sugars and starches annually from landfills to animal feed production; upgraded laboratory analytical equipment to new technology which uses less solvent, eliminating 100 gallons per year of hazardous waste. Also, DSM operates its own wastewater treatment plant, and operates two compost facilities, with 100 percent of sludge annually diverted from landfills.
Healthy and Sustainable Businesses (2nd of 2 winners—a tie)
Earth Friendly Products – Eastern Division (Parsippany, Morris County)
Earth Friendly Products manufactures some 150 environmentally “green’’ household and commercial cleaning products, free of caustics, chlorine bleach, phosphates, and other toxins.
It has sought to make its Parsippany operation a model environmental facility. Beginning in 2010, the facility enhanced its recycling procedures, including separation of material and reuse of cafeteria implements (cups, plates, etc...) that cut waste by 90 percent, reduced the monthly trash pick-up bill from $1,800 to $311, and generated $33,000 in recycling revenues. Earth Friendly has made it manufacturing power process 100 percent green. It generates 200,000 kWh/year from in-house solar panels and purchases 1million kWh/year through Renewable Energy Choice. The operation has been carbon neutral since 2013. Also, employees and encouraged to pursue sustainable lifestyles through a $2,000 company incentive to purchase eco-friendly cars, $1,000 incentive to relocate within 10 miles of the facility; and, $2,000 to install solar panels on their homes.
Healthy and Sustainable Communities
Georgian Court University
In 2007, Georgian Court University was one of the first higher education institutions in the nation to commit to carbon neutrality. The university, based in Lakewood, has since demonstrated its commitment to sustainability through curriculum, campus activities, facilities management, business practice, and community engagement. GCU built a LEED Gold status wellness center, installed 2,500 solar panels to provide 900 KWH of electricity; added electric carts to the campus vehicle fleet, replaced older and inefficient vehicles, installed 80 low-flow shower heads in residence halls, and installed ceramic window films over 200 large windows in the main building to increase insulation. The university maintains the Mercy Garden and Wellness Garden, placed 4th among 272 institutions for its 75 percent recycling rate in the 2014 “Recyclemania” contest, and hosts a $250,000 experimental stormwater basin research project in partnership with Rutgers University and the DEP, from which it has been recognized for many achievements in stewardship.
Environmental Education (Adult-led)
New York – New Jersey Trail Conference
The NY-NJ Trail Conference is a nonprofit group with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs, bringing together more than 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people. Since 1920, the Conference has created, protected and promoted a network of 2,000 miles of public trails. The Trail Conference has established a “Trail University” to improve the trail-related knowledge, understanding and skill base of its volunteers, staff and partners. Workshops are taught by professionals and experienced volunteers, with topics ranging from trail building and maintenance, to shelter caretaking and stone splitting. In the past year, 263 Trail University attendees have contributed 1,100 hours of service in New Jersey by participating in on-the-trail courses. Many New Jersey state parks and forests rely on Trail Conference volunteers to keep trails maintained, well-marked and safe for public access, in addition to reducing erosion and protecting sensitive habitats and aquatic areas. In 2013 volunteers donated almost 17,000 hours to help benefit State public lands.
Environmental Education (Youth-led)
Williamstown Middle School Environmental Club (Monroe Township, Gloucester County)
Middle school science teacher Janet Mead and Sandy Keen, a Rutgers environmental steward and master gardener, created the “Community of Caring Gardens’’ environmental program at Williamstown Middle School. It was a natural fit for the environmental club at a school located at the headwaters of the Great Egg Harbor River and in a town with 3,000 acres of environmentally protected Pinelands habitat. The environmental club engages 150 students in grades 5-8. These student volunteers lead and accomplish projects, such as creating gardens for native species, growing vegetables for the community, constructing portable habitats, making rain barrels and rain gardens to reduce erosion, building bird houses, improving recycling efforts, and building fish ponds. The projects are funded by donations and promoted to the community via a school website. On a larger scale, Williamstown Middle School also is participating in DEP’s Project Learning Tree Green Schools Program, earning ECO-Schools USA certification through NJ Audubon, and is working with the Monroe Township Green Team in Sustainable Jersey’s program for municipalities.
Environmentalist of the Year
John McCormac, Mayor of Woodbridge Township, Middlesex County
Since becoming mayor in 2006, John McCormac implemented environmental and sustainable programs to protect and restore the environment, while taking into account Woodbridge’s economic and financial factors. His accomplishments support his belief that “if you go green, you will save green.”
Under Mayor McCormac’s leadership, Woodbridge Township received $2.4 million in rebates from the State Board of Public Utilities to install solar panels at six town-owned buildings, secured $5 million in open space funds from the county for preservation, and implemented single stream recycling that reduced municipal disposal costs by $135,000 while increasing recycling by 44 percent (to 65 percent in 2013, far above any larger town in New Jersey).
Mayor McCormac also:
- Worked with the school board to conduct energy audits of school buildings that led to building upgrades and energy conservation measures.
- Backed remediation of 29 acres at a former manufacturing site, part of the Keasbey Redevelopment Zone, to clear a path to locate a future energy complex as part of the redevelopment of this brownfield site.
- Fostered, through the municipal Redevelopment Agency, restoration of more than 100 acres of wetlands along the Raritan River and construction of the future Woodbridge Waterfront Park.
- Helped forge a partnership between the township and CIEL Power to offer a Township-wide Home Energy Assessment program. For a low fee, homeowners can get a home energy assessment and qualify for up to $5.
In addition, Woodridge Township has been named the Sustainable Jersey champion for four years and has been selected as a pilot community in the national program of STAR (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities), in conjunction with Sustainable Jersey and Rutgers University.