DEC Recognizes Four New York Organizations as Innovation and Sustainability Leaders

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DEC Recognizes Four New York Organizations as Innovation and Sustainability Leaders

Winners Announced at 16th Annual New York Environmental Excellence Awards

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that DEC is recognizing four organizations at the 16th annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards Celebration. The event was held at Pat's Barn on the Rensselaer Technology Park Campus in Troy.

"The Environmental Excellence Awards give DEC the opportunity to recognize the good works of companies and organizations that are committed to greening their operations and finding innovative ways to contribute to a healthier environment," Commissioner Seggos said. "This year's award winners are an elite group serving as models of excellence within their communities and I hope they inspire others to undertake like-minded projects."

Commissioner Seggos presented the awards in recognition of each organization's innovative programs and outstanding commitment to environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and economic viability. The winners include: a Capital District not-for-profit advancing sustainable urban revitalization and enhancing access to locally grown foods; a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use redevelopment community in Monroe County; the New York City Botanical Garden's commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability; and a northern New York environmental center calling young people to action on climate change.

The ceremony included presentations by award winners showcasing outstanding carbon emission reductions, energy efficiencies, innovative technologies, urban revitalization and economic growth, and harnessing the enthusiasm of students to achieve extraordinary outcomes.

DEC established the Environmental Excellence Awards program in 2004 to recognize organizations with outstanding, innovative, and sustainable projects or programs and unique partnerships that are helping to achieve a more sustainable New York.

A statewide review committee, made up of 20 representatives from the public and private sectors, provided guidance in selecting the award winners from an array of competitive applications received in May. For additional information about the program and past winners, and to learn about applying for the 2020 awards, please visit the DEC website.

The 2019 winners are:

  • Capital Roots' Urban Grow Center, Rensselaer County: The Urban Grow Center, opened in 2014, has set a regional standard for sustainable urban revitalization. This 12,000-square-foot building and grounds are in a great location for urban farming and one-third of the power used is generated by on-site solar power. In addition, green roofs, porous pavement, rainwater collection, gardens, public art, bike racks, and pedestrian-friendly crosswalks provide a sustainable oasis in what was a historically underserved neighborhood in Troy. Capital Roots, a not-for-profit started in 1975, has worked with partners to plant more than 3,000 street trees, grow and distribute millions of pounds of local food, and organically maintain more than 18 acres of urban greenspace. By connecting urban markets with area farms and businesses with educational institutions, Capital Roots have built a lasting infrastructure for a growing regional food network and provided a replicable model of sustainable urban agriculture.
  • I-Square LLC's Sustainable Pedestrian Friendly Mixed-Use Development, Monroe County: I-Square LLC's forward thinking has transformed a declining neighborhood into a model of sustainable living. I-Square is a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use community featuring restaurants, rooftop gardens, outdoor amphitheater, office space and "The Imaginarium," a net-zero art gallery and science center. The community's entertainment features alone draw about 280,000 visitors annually. On-site solar and small wind turbines supply the community with more than 45,000 kWh of power annually and a state-of-the-art ECO gym features electricity-producing exercise equipment. An exceptional stormwater management and rainwater collection system saves more than 20 gallons of water annually. The system features 18,000 square feet of pervious concrete sidewalks and parking lots and 1,750 square feet of accessible green rooftops. Innovative energy conservation technologies allow I-Square to cut carbon emissions by an estimated 1,000 metric tons each year.
  • New York Botanical Garden's Energy Efficiency Master Plan, Bronx County: The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is demonstrating an ongoing commitment to renewable energy, sustainability, conservation, research, and education. NYBG has charted a course to reduce its emissions 80 percent by 2050. Facilities are being transformed into a 21st Century model of energy efficiency and sustainability, and NYBG has already achieved a 50 percent decrease in carbon per square foot of building area. In addition, NYBG annually offsets more than 200 metric tons of carbon from on-site tree growth and 275 metric tons from composting operations. Gardens are maintained in an eco-friendly manner by using natural alternatives to chemical pesticides and fertilizers (i.e., integrated pest management). In addition, NYGB introduces garden-based sustainability and science curricula to public schools across the Bronx and serves more than 90,000 students annually.
  • The Wild Center's Youth Climate Program, Franklin County: The Wild Center's Youth Climate Program convenes, engages, and empowers young people on a local, regional, and global scale to take action on climate change. Youth Climate Summits allow students to learn from businesses, organizations, schools/colleges, civic groups, farmers, engineers, designers, public officials, and agencies. Summits result in dynamic and comprehensive Climate Action Plans developed by students to improve sustainability and resiliency in their school or community. This far-reaching educational program has increased climate literacy by 40 percent, inspired more than 100 green teams/environmental clubs statewide, engaged more than 40 students in northern New York school districts, and created 60 youth-driven Climate Action Plans. The program is a model that is being adapted and replicated across New York, the United States, and other countries.

Amy Klein, CEO of Capital Roots, said, "Capital Roots is honored that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is recognizing our efforts to advance regional sustainability with an Environmental Excellence award. We are grateful for a selection process that required us to reflect on the measurable impacts our Urban Grow Center has had on the environment, and to take a moment as an organization to put the last five years of grassroots work into perspective. Being celebrated for these achievements is important to our hardworking staff and thousands of supporters."

Mike Nolan, Owner of I-Square, said, "We are honored to receive the NYS Environmental Excellence Award as an acknowledgement of our efforts to redevelop this neighborhood commercial district while maintaining an environmental focus. Our proximity to Irondequoit Bay, the Genesee River, and Lake Ontario were the catalyst for our stormwater management strategies. As a mixed-use, community-centered venue, I-Square exposes a significant number of people to the benefits sustainable practices and renewable energy has on our local environment. It is our hope this award recognition will help inspire other developers to implement similar practices for an even greater impact in our region."

Carrie Rebora Barratt, Ph.D., CEO of the New York Botanical Garden, said, "The New York Botanical Garden is honored to be recognized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation with this award. At a time when plants are under threat as never before, NYBG is proud to be a leader in environmental stewardship and sustainable development on our 250-acre campus in the Bronx, and in areas of critical conservation concern throughout our region, across the country, and around the world."

Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center, said, "The Wild Center is honored to receive the 2019 New York State Environmental Excellence Award for our Youth Climate Program. This award recognizes our work with partners across New York State and validates our deep commitment to educating and empowering young people for action on climate change. Today's youth are a major driving force in the climate change discussion and we continue to be inspired by their passion and dedication. We are dedicated to continuing to provide the platform young people need to make real change and focus on a sustainable future. We thank New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos for recognizing The Wild Center's efforts."

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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