2013 Vermont Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence

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2013 Vermont Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence

Wed, 05/15/2013 - 5:24am -- tim

The eleven winners of the Vermont Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence were recognized Monday as part of the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility annual meeting. The event was held at the University of Vermont Davis Center. The awards were presented by Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz.

The Vermont Governor's Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the actions taken by Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and promote environmental sustainability. To date, more than 200 award-winning efforts of Vermont individuals, organizations, institutions, public agencies, and businesses have been recognized. These projects contribute significantly to protecting the environment, conserving energy and reducing the production of greenhouse gases. Together they have created a green and sustainable business culture, and advanced environmental education on all fronts.
Ben & Jerry's (Waterbury)
Process Wastewater Reuse System Waterbury
Randy Thompson and Billie Davis with Secretary Markowitz, right. Photos: Vermont Business Magazine.

As the number one tourist attraction in Vermont with over 300,000 visitors, the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury has made sustainability a priority by annually setting targets for reducing it's environmental impact.  In general, dairy product manufacturing uses a significant amount of water for cleaning equipment and sanitizing.  The factory has an on-site wastewater treatment plant that, over the years, has reduced its organic loading (or BOD content) to the point where they can now reuse wastewater for non-potable purposes. Their grey water system reuses some of the wastewater for flushing toilets.  A second system reuses effluent in cooling towers to replace fresh water.  In addition to reusing wastewater, the factory has significantly reduced the amount of water used per gallon of ice cream manufactured.  In the first two years of operation. of the grey water system, the factory has conserved an average of 850,000 gallons of water per year, also saving over $3,000 in water purchases.
Energy Co-op of Vermont (Colchester)
Co-op Solar
John Quinney and Benjamin Griffin
Energy Co-op of Vermont is a fuel and heating services cooperative with over 2000 members.  It provides made-in-Vermont wood pellets, delivers low sulfur fuel, and offers free home energy checkups for its members.  A next logical step for the Co-op was to further promote renewable energy products.  Their project, Co-op Solar, was designed to make solar hot water simple and affordable by forming strategic partnerships, negotiating volume discounts, and providing cost-effective financing to reduce overall cost.  Partners in this project included solar installers (HarvesSTAR, Bristol Electronics, and ReSOURCE); a Shelburne-based solar manufacturer (Sunward Systems); Vermont State Employees Credit Union; and numerous Energy Committees in Chittenden County towns which promoted Co-op Solar.  During the project, 41 solar hot water systems were successfully installed and the program is expanding.  Others are using this as a model to promote solar hot water system installations around the state.
Ethan Allen (Orleans and Beecher Falls)
Fossil Fuel Use Reduction and Increased Waste Diversion

Mike Worth, Larry Corrow and Bob Rice
Ethan Allen operates two Vermont furniture manufacturing plants, one in Orleans and the other in Beecher Falls.  They are one of the first furniture manufacturers in the country to become certified in the furniture industry's environmental management program for sustainability.  Under this program, Ethan Allen sets ambitious annual sustainability targets.  Most recently, targets were set for reducing fossil fuel use and increasing recycling.  A combination of wood waste, sawdust and wood chips, has replaced #4 fuel oil in boilers.  The two plants now burn virtually no #4 fuel oil and have significantly reduced #2 fuel oil, for an annual saving of 170,000 gallons.  In one year, Ethan Allen also achieved a 27% increase in recycling and a 12% decrease in landfill waste.  Ethan Allen's commitment to reducing its environmental footprint is a model in the furniture industry.
Green Mountain College (Poultney)
Integrated Educational Initiative for Achieving Climate Neutrality
Dr Sarah Mittlefehldt, Dr James Harding and Aaron Witham
In 2011, Green Mountain College completed a multi-year initiative to develop an integrated, educational approach to achieving climate neutrality, while supporting regional sustainable forestry and agriculture.  At the center of the project was the construction of a $5.8 million combined heat and power biomass plant, which replaced an aging oil burning plant as the primary source of heat for the campus.  The plant was designed to serve as an educational facility, with a raised catwalk for plant tours, interpretive signage, and a highly visible energy dashboard in the student center and on the web.  The 400 horsepower biomass plant heats 24 buildings on the College's 155 acres by burning woodchips.  The majority of the woodchips are harvested sustainably within a 50 mile radius through the Poultney Woodshed Project, an innovative sourcing program developed by the College in partnership with the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation.  The plant works by burning gas created by woodchips to heat high pressure steam, which runs through a turbine to create electricity.  The steam is then piped out to campus to provide heat and hot water to buildings.  The campus carbon footprint was reduced by 29% and the college purchases carbon offsets from the Green Mountain Power's Cow Power Program to cover the remainder of its carbon emissions.  In this way, Green Mountain College is one of two colleges in the nation to achieve climate neutrality.
IBM (Burlington)
Vermont's Energy Future: An Outreach Effort Celebrating IBM's Centennial 
Nathan Fiske, Jeff Chapmann, Michael Pelletier, Paul Biggs and Ruma Kohli
In recognition of IBM's Centennial Anniversary, the corporation made available $100,000 grants to fund community outreach efforts, where IBM could bring their knowledge and skills to drive Smarter Planet projects across the globe.  IBM Vermont applied for and received one of only two $100,000 grants awarded in North America.  IBM's energy management program was recognized by a Vermont Governors award in 1999.  Acknowledging the importance of Vermont's energy future, IBM has transferred its innovation in energy management and shared that knowledge, culture and enthusiasm with others.  The IBM Centennial Grant of $100,000 was donated to the Vermont State Colleges system to be used by Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, Vermont Technical College , and the Howard Center.  As part of this grant, IBM collaborated with and transferred their Smarter Energy Management program to the recipients.  Both exceeded their goals of 5% energy reduction.  A second initiative, SmartVT, is an ongoing collaborative effort between IBM, Green Mountain Power and Vermont businesses to take advantage of Vermont's emerging Smart Grid.  Working with Green Mountain Power, IBM established a proxy Smart Grid data server to share each business's electrical use and transfer IBM's analysis techniques.  Ten Vermont businesses, including the State of Vermont have joined as participants in this initiative pledging to share energy data, conservation ideas and work towards reduced and more efficient energy use.
Peoples Academy (Morrisville)
Stormwater Management
Five Peoples Academy high school students designed a stormwater management plan for the school that addressed parking lot and roof runoff.  The students developed a stormwater mitigation plan that includes a green roof on the gym, curb cuts to disperse runoff, rather than collect it, and a rain garden for infiltrating stormwater.  The project received first place in the 2012 State Envirothon Competition and was recently awarded $5000 for project engineering design. Representatives of People's Academy were unable to attend the awards presentation.
Reading Elementary School (Reading)
Will Kit Oney, Abigail Merseal, Sam Mitchell, Nick Bishop, Nevaeh Sullivan, Patricia Collins and Dr Lou Lafasciano (Haley Mullins was not able to attend)
The Reading Elementary School fifth-grade class worked cooperatively in the fall of 2012 on a Community Service Learning project.  After identifying poison ivy on the edges of the school playground as a significant health hazard, they wondered how it could be eradicated without using chemical controls and without harming the local environment.  The school community was aware of the problem, but for over ten years no one came up with a solution that could be put into action.  The class researched methods for eradicating poison ivy, conducted a cost analysis, and identified the pros and cons for each solution.  They researched over six different solutions, including using salt, vinegar, and boiling water.  All non-chemical ideas were either not practical nor cost effective for dealing with the large area of poison ivy needing attention, with the exception of one - goats.  The students learned that goats love to eat poison ivy and are not harmed by it.  The students went before the school board to propose what they believed was the best solution, Eco-goats, that would eat the poison ivy over a 1.5 acre infested area.  After securing town approval, they reached out to the local community and were loaned all supplies needed to care for the goats.  Over a six-week trial period, three boar goats consumed all of the visible poison ivy.  In order to maintain a safe playground, they expect they will have need for the goats every spring and fall until satisfied that the poison ivy will not return.  The benefits of this project include that no environmentally harmful chemicals were applied, a minimum amount of energy and funds were used for transportation and care of the goats, local partners were identified, and students learned about managing and solving a local ecological problem through community involvement.
Honorable Mention
The Putney School (Putney)
Putney School Field House
The Putney School designed and constructed a new field house in accordance with the highest level of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environment Design program, or LEED Platinum.  This net-zero building has been recognized as Vermont's Greenest Building.  Students and faculty participated in a building design that includes:  passive and active solar power with a zero energy bill (actually over $4,000 in energy credit per year); virtually no stormwater runoff; sensors for building lighting and ventilation; use of recycled and locally sourced building materials; and 75% landfill diversion of construction waste.  The field house is serving as a living educational laboratory for net-zero building, with many visitors from academic and professional organizations. Representatives of Putney School were unable to attend the awards presentation.
Stowe Mountain Resort (Stowe)
Snow Making Efficiency Program
Rob Apple
Stowe Mountain Resort embarked on an ambitious program in 2012 to replace and upgrade its snowmaking delivery system with the goals of significantly reducing energy consumption, eliminating use of diesel as fuel for its air compressors and reducing its annual carbon emissions.  The upgrade to the snowmaking system, including snowmaking guns, has resulted in an annual savings of 1.9 million KwH of electricity, 122,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 5 million pounds of carbon emissions, and reduced truck traffic for fuel delivery, all at a savings of $650,000 per year.
FairPoint Communications (South Burlington)
Anti-Idling Initiative
Wayne Michaud, Rebecca Ryan and Mike Smith
FairPoint Communications took to heart that 47% of Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, as opposed to 27% nationally, and that reducing vehicle idling in a fleet of over 1200 vehicles in New England could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality and respiratory impacts.  FairPoint partnered with the American Lung Association and Idle-Free VT to successfully reduce the idling of its northern New England fleet.  After presentations at company garages in Vermont on the benefits of reducing idling, FairPoint expanded the effort across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  FairPoint saw its total idling time drop more than 30 percent in the first 11 months of 2011 as compared to 2012 ‘from 92 hours per vehicle to 54 hours per vehicle.  FairPoint installed GPS technology in all of its vehicles and is able to track idling time.  These efforts serve as a model for other fleets to not only reduce fossil fuel consumption and save money, but also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and curb exhaust fumes that lead to health problems.
FiberMark (Brattleboro)
Glazer Oil Replacement Project Brattleboro 
Mark Pomeroy, Kevin Field and Jim Dunham
FiberMark is a specialty paper and fiberboard manufacturer specializing in high quality cover materials for books, notebooks, boxes and other fiberboard packaging, often with a textured surface finish. If you have ever been in a paper manufacturing plant you know it can be a noisy place with all sorts of machinery from the pulping process to the huge papermaking machines that turn the pulp into paper using water and heat and turning it into large paper rolls. This may then be further processed, such as physically adding a texture or special finish on the paper. In one area of the plant, the paper is given a finished glaze by huge metal rollers moving over the paper which is fed to the so-called Glazers on a huge roll of paper.  The plant operates 5 Glazers machines, 24 hours per day, 5 days per week.  It is staffed with one operator for each 8-hour shift. There are overhead bearings for each Glazer unit which need on-going lubrication. The old lubrication method required the operator, every 8 hour shift, to manually go to each Glazer with an oil cart and fill the overhead reservoirs.  This method led to safety issues, oil leaking on finished product, high labor costs, and hazardous waste generation.  Glazer operators at the plant helped devise a new method using automatic grease dispensers ‘eliminating waste oil generation, spills on the paper product, and reducing labor costs and maintenance.  This project is a classic pollution prevention project - where FiberMark engaged the people on the floor to help identify and solve the problem, finding a way to eliminate the waste at the source, saving time and money. 
For more information and to apply for next year's awards, CLICK HERE. The nominating process opens in the fall and the awardees are announced in January.