Colby College was honored in Boston Thursday with an Environmental Merit Award from the New England Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The award recognizes exceptional work and commitment to the environment in 2003. “Colby College is ‘walking-the-talk’ when it comes to combining strong academic environmental programs with tangible actions to reduce the environmental impact of its campus operations,” the agency said in a press release.
“EPA’s Environmental Merit Award is an annual award that recognizes outstanding environmental advocates who have made significant contributions toward preserving and protecting our natural resources,” according to a letter from EPA Regional Administrator Robert W. Varney to the college. Eleven people or organizations in Maine received Environmental Merit Awards Thursday (see list).
Professors Russ Cole and Tom Tietenberg, directors of the environmental science and environmental studies programs respectively, and Director of Safety Bruce McDougal went to Faneuil Hall in Boston on Thursday for the presentation, but college officials credited a broad effort on campus by students, faculty and administrators for this latest recognition that Colby has received for its commitment to sustainability both in campus practices and in its outstanding environmental studies programs.
Mitchell Family Professor of Economics Thomas Tietenberg, director of Colby’s Environmental Studies Program, said Colby has gained recognition as a national leader in sustainability based on both the academic work that students are doing, such as monitoring and reduction of energy use and harmful emissions, and the work of the Environmental Advisory Group (EAG). The EAG was formed three years ago to advise Colby’s president and the community on issues related to environmental stewardship of the campus and region. It includes students, faculty and administrators. Recent initiatives where the EAG played a role include:
- incorporating green building certification programs in the designs of two planned buildings, one of which will be heated and cooled using geothermal energy;
- switching to an electricity contract that substantially decreases the College’s responsibility for carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by purchasing energy exclusively from Maine hydropower and biomass generatorsa move credited for helping establish a new green market for electricity in Maine;
- sustaining production of 12 percent of the college’s electricity through a co-generation system at the campus steam plant;
- a substantial reduction in energy use per square foot since 1990 despite the huge expansion of electrically powered technology on campus, according to a study conducted by one of Tietenberg’s students;
- formal partnership with nationally recognized nonprofit organizations including Clean Air-Cool Planet, the Maine Green Power Connection, the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s “Leader in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) program.
On the academic side, Colby’s environmental studies program, one of the nation’s oldest, was expanded and restructured last year to offer even stronger programs in environmental science and environmental policy. The program entails considerable community outreach, including a focused course where seniors collaborate with local and state officials to analyze the water quality of area lakes and to make recommendations for remediation.
For more than 20 years students in that course have analyzed a lake watershed each year and presented findings to lake associations and the Department of Environmental Protection. This year Daniel Dubord of the China Regional Lake Alliance wrote, “Having been in the water quality ‘game’ for many years, I’ve seen a lot of studies done by so-called professionals that didn’t even come close to reaching the detail and professionalism that was exhibited in the report by your students.”
The EPA Environmental Merit Award follows a Maine Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence that Colby received in 2002. And the work continues. Tietenberg, an architect of emissions trading markets used worldwide to reduce pollution, said a student researcher is continuing an elaborate emissions inventory study. Among other projects the EAG is planning to pilot a biodiesel alternative fuel test and students are using new energy-efficient washers and dryers installed this winter and expected to save $10,000 a year in energy costs.
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Contact: Andrew Spejewski (617-918-1014), New England Office, Environmental Protection Agency
For Immediate Release: April 22, 2004 EPA Release # 04-04-27
Photos of winners receiving their awards will be available. Call Carol Krasauskis at 617-918-1108.
EPA Recognizes 11 From Maine With Environmental Merit Awards
BOSTON — At an Earth Day ceremony in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England Office today recognized 11 individuals and organizations from Maine with Environmental Merit Awards, including one lifetime achievement award. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region’s environment. This year’s competition drew nearly 100 nominations from across New England.
“These individuals, organizations and businesses deserve our thanks for their extraordinary contributions in protecting the environment,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “They have shown us that anyone can make a big difference, whether at work, at home, or in their neighborhood.”
The winners from Maine were among 34 from across New England. Awards were given in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization, as well as lifetime achievement awards for individuals.
- Colby College, Environmental Programs, Waterville, Maine
Colby College is ‘walking-the-talk’ when it comes to combining strong academic environmental programs with tangible actions to reduce the environmental impact of its campus operations. Colby’s environmental studies program, one of the oldest in the country, has been expanded to emphasize hands-on experiences that benefit the community beyond the college. For instance, students work with local lakes associations and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to study different lakes and present findings and recommended protection strategies to local community groups. At the same time, Colby is also continuously improving campus operations. This year, two new buildings were designed with various energy efficiency measures, including geothermal heating. The college also signed a two-year contract for electricity generated by biomass and hydroelectric power, reducing smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions by 41 percent and sulfur dioxide (acid rain) emissions by 98 percent, compared to fossil-fuel electric generation.
- Lifetime Achievement: Thomas Bradbury, Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, Cape Porpoise, Maine
Tom Bradbury’s commitment to preserving the environmental well-being of Cape Porpoise and its surrounding land and ocean treasures is lasting and profound. He has been actively working on behalf of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust since 1977, becoming its executive director in 1994 and continuing in that role to the present. He has also been or continues to be a member of the Boards of Directors of the Ramanascho Land Preservation Trust, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Friends of the Kennebunk River. His achievements in preserving the beautiful woodlands, wetlands and islands in southern Maine are a testament to his skill at rallying diverse population groups — year-round residents, repeat summer visitors, new visitors and local businesses — that have been convinced by Tom’s quiet but determined manner. Tom was recognized in 1996 as the leading citizen conservationist in the United States with the American Land Conservation Award and he continues his good work to the present day.
- Susan Swanton, Maine Marine Trades Association
Susan Swanton, executive director of the Maine Marine Trades Association (MMTA), has shown enormous leadership in making marinas in Maine and the rest of New England more environmentally friendly. In the past year alone, Swanton has: certified marinas and boatyards under the Maine Clean Marina Program, one of the first in the country; helped Maine conduct a study of the environmental effects of pressure washing which will serve as a basis for permits across New England; conducted extensive outreach and education to help EPA New England meet its goals for the sale of ‘clean’ motorboat engines; helped the state run an intensive development process for a marina best practices manual; and overseen MMTA workshops that trained over 100 marina and boatyard owners in environmental regulations and best practices. Every one of these efforts is among the first in the region and many are being used as models in other New England states and across the country.
- Portland Water District, HydroLogics Program, Portland, Maine
This year the Portland Water District is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its watershed education program, called HydroLogics, which reached more than 2,000 students from 27 schools in 2003. Sebago Lake, the district’s water source, provides drinking water for 190,000 residents, nearly 15 percent of the state’s population. But the lake is also threatened by rapid population growth, 18 percent in the last 10 years. The HydroLogics program brings water district staff to classrooms monthly or on a one-time basis. The program also provides teacher information, workshops and mini-grants (over $4,500 in 2002-2003) for teacher supplies. The district’s efforts also included a puppet show on WPXT and other venues. The HydroLogics program has helped thousands of Maine children understand their role in protecting and maintaining water quality and its importance for the state’s future.
- The Maine State Planning Office, Land For Maine’s Future Program, Maine
The Land for Maine’s Future Program, operated out of the Maine State Planning Office, has been protecting land vital to Mainers’ way of life since 1987. The $88 million spent by the fund on conservation easements and outright purchases has helped to protect and establish public access to hundreds of thousands of acres. These funds have been generously matched by private, local or federal funds over that time, showing its success at building cooperation among various groups. Last year alone, the program protected hiking on a mountain range in Weld, guaranteed canoe access to a waterway in Falmouth, gave snowmobilers a right-of-way in Dover-Foxcroft, and purchased a conservation easement on an 8,600-acre forest in Parsonfield. The program’s success spurred a wide-ranging coalition to support a bond issue for continued funding of the program, including such diverse groups as the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Council of Churches, Maine Public Health Association, and the Maine Audubon Society. The program’s emphasis on collaborative and regional approaches has broadened its support and its effectiveness at protecting Maine for future generations.
- Beginning With Habitat Coalition, Land Protection,
Maine’s Beginning With Habitat (BwH) program takes an innovative, successful route to preserving important habitats in Maine. The program’s key attributes are its pro-active role in giving town planners and land trusts the information they need to protect key areas and its integration of information from many sources. Beginning With Habitat integrates data from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maine Department of Conservation, the Maine State Planning Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy, the Maine Audubon Society, and Maine’s 13 Regional Planning Commissions. During 2003, 57 municipalities, six land trusts, and 11 regional and statewide planning groups received presentations, maps and consultations from BwH. Information is now also available on a website, providing planners across Maine with the information they need to preserve Maine’s resources for the future.
- Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Underground Storage Tank Compliance Program, Maine
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Underground Storage Tank (UST) enforcement program is pioneering a model for the nation with its third party inspection program. Rather than having DEP staff individually inspect more than 1,400 underground tanks in the state, DEP requires annual inspections by independent inspectors trained and certified by DEP. Maine was able to create the program by building its 18-year-old program of state certified independent tank installers. Maine is one of only four states nationally to use a third party approach to inspections and the only one to require annual certification. By adopting third party inspections, DEP has been able to protect property and drinking water supplies across the state with a minimum of manpower, all while applying stricter inspection and compliance regulations than federal standards.
- Interface Fabrics Group, Guilford, Maine and East Douglas, Mass.
The Interface Fabrics Group, formerly known as Guilford of Maine, has a deep company-wide commitment to improve the environment for future generations, while achieving and maintaining profitability. The company was among the first to commit to a formal ISO-certified Environmental Management System, certifying its main facility in 1998. Environmental accomplishments include reducing solid waste sent to incineration at its Guilford facility by 86 percent, increasing ’green power’ electricity from renewable sources to over 58 percent at all facilities combined, and committing to eliminating all ozone-depleting substances from company premises. The company has developed and successfully introduced many environmentally friendly products, including a fiber from 100 percent recycled soda bottles, a bio-based compostable product made from corn, and environmentally safe dyes. Interface Fabrics is also reaching beyond its own operations by using environmental performance as a criterion to evaluate suppliers and by developing the Maine Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.
- Drinking Water Source Protection Coordinators Andrews Tolman, David Braley, and Joy Adamson, Maine DHS
Over the last four years, the six New England state drinking water source protection coordinators have made tremendous contributions to the long-term safety and viability of drinking water for New England residents. Since 1999, the various state programs, working with local, state and federal agencies, and non-profit organizations, have completed over 2,500 source water assessments, identifying potential threats to drinking water from hundreds of municipal and private suppliers in New England. But they have also gone far beyond information gathering by launching creative new programs to ensure that drinking water threats do not materialize. Efforts include partnering with non-profit agencies and drinking water suppliers to protect source waters, drafting model land conservation easements with the New Hampshire Society for the Protection of Forests, starting land conservation programs to purchase critical land near drinking water sources and working with Maine’s George Mitchell Center to create a manual on source water protection for suppliers.