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IDEM Honors 7 Organizations with Highest Environmental Award
Indiana Ag Connection - 09/27/2022

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) announced the 2022 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence. Seven recipients were honored for extraordinary initiatives in protecting the environment.

Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence are Indiana's most prestigious environmental recognition awards. They are reserved for the most innovative, sustainable, and exemplary programs or projects that positively impact Indiana's environment and demonstrate measurable environmental, economic, and social benefits. The selection process is highly competitive, and only one award per category is presented each year.

"Exciting and innovative environmental projects are happening in Indiana. Projects that reduce waste, use alternative energy, and conserve water are happening where we work, play, and go to school," said IDEM Commissioner Brian Rockensuess. "These award winners are implementing real world examples for us all to strive to achieve."

John Roeder, senior operations director for the Governor's Office, presented the awards during the 25th Annual Pollution Prevention Conference and Tradeshow.

Any Indiana citizen, business, nonprofit organization, school, university, or government agency was eligible for the award so long as the project was:

- Located in Indiana,

- Fully implemented by 2020 or 2021, and

- Performed voluntarily and not as the result of federal or state mandates, regulations, or enforcement decrees.

Selected awardees were required to provide quantifiable data to support the nomination, have a positive reputation for environmental health and safety, and agree to share the program or project details with others.

2022 categories and winners:

Energy Efficiency/ Renewable Resources - Bendix CVS Huntington IN Solar PV System - Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, LLC, Huntington

Bendix contracted PSG Energy Group to design and implement their first ever on-site solar project at the Huntington manufacturing site. The 1.2 megawatt ground mounted solar array has over 2,600 solar panels and produces 1.5 million kilowatt hours of green electricity -- enough to satisfy around 30% of the electricity consumption at Bendix's Huntington Plant #1 and deliver an estimated $140,000 in electric utility savings annually. The installation is the largest on-site solar system in Huntington County. Other sustainability features of the project include a 91.8% landfill diversion of construction waste and an indigenous seed mix that reduces emissions from mowing and pesticides. Bendix's Huntington complex has achieved a series of sustainability milestones since it opened in 1980, including ISO 14001 certification, zero waste to landfill self certification, and energy efficiency initiatives.

Environmental Education and Outreach - STEAM: Success Through Education, Agriculture, and Mentoring - Paramount Schools of Excellence, Indianapolis

The Paramount Schools of Excellence STEAM program, which stands for Success Through Education, Agriculture, and Mentoring, teaches sixth through eighth grade students about sustainable farming practices through a summer paid job opportunity at a school farm. In 2021, 46 students participated by monitoring soil health, capturing rain, planting and raising native plants, managing a flock of chickens and a herd of goats, and producing fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, and cheese. The program has been running for a decade and started with 12 students. A total of 249 students have participated to date, learning about sustainable farming practices, food accessibility, and minimal impact livestock management. The farm uses two acres of land formally covered with invasive species, trash, and debris. In 2020, they planted 3,000 square feet of pollinator beds on a former parking lot. Through these operations, over the last three years, the farm has harvested over 46,000 servings of vegetables and produced more than 1,500 gallons of milk and 2,000 pounds of cheese. All items harvested or produced through Paramount farms are sold back to the community through weekly farmers markets, at local venues throughout Indianapolis, or donated.

Five Year Continuous Improvement 5 Year Continuous Improvement - AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals AstraZeneca Mount Vernon Operations, Mt. Vernon

As part of their Environmental Management System, AstraZeneca Mount Vernon invested $13.5 million in infrastructure including the installation of a two megawatt solar field, enough to power 300 homes and reduce more than 1,866 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. AstraZeneca also replaced cooling towers with sphagnum moss to reduce chemical and water use by 1.6 million gallons per year and improved equipment efficiencies by installing LED lights, variable frequency drive motors, high efficiency air handling units and an electric maintenance vehicle fleet. Through these efforts, AstraZeneca achieved a $245,000 monthly reduction in utility costs. Over this same period, the site achieved zero waste to landfill and reduced the generation of waste by over 200 tons per year.

Greening the Government Indianapolis Public Schools - Indianapolis Public Schools, Indianapolis

Indianapolis Public School partnered with Cenergistic to implement a comprehensive behavioral-based energy conservation program throughout the district. The program reduces energy use and increases energy efficiency of buildings and equipment through behavioral and operational practices. The program, which has been implemented in all IPS facilities and grounds from classrooms to auditoriums, kitchens and offices, has led to an energy reduction of nearly 100,000,000 kilowatt hours, a water reduction of 4 million gallons, and saved the district over $3.6 million dollars in 2021.

Land Use/ Conservation Big Pine Creek Watershed Project - Big Pine Creek Watershed Group, Fowler

The Big Pine Creek Watershed Project is a water-quality improvement program focused on preventing nutrient and sedimentary run off. The project covers Benton, Warren, Tippecanoe and White counties. In addition to implementing practices like cover crops, other goals include educating farmers and landowners on the impacts they have on the watershed, as well as raising funds to support this work. Since the program's inception, it has prevented over 110,000 tons of sediment from entering local waterways, hosted 6,500 participants at area events, reached 30% of watershed residents regarding the importance of water quality in the watershed, and raised over $6 million to accomplish this work.

Pollution Prevention Clear-Coat Elimination Project - Cummins Inc, Columbus

Cummins Mid-Range Engine Plant in Columbus specializes in diesel and alternative fuel engines and generators. For 30 years, it washed and painted engines to prevent rust and create brand association. After a two year validation including working with their supplier and customer, Cummins determined painting was no longer needed. The plant eliminated five resource intensive processes including washing with chemicals, painting and using a dry-off and cure oven. The benefits of this project include reductions in air emissions, natural gas usage (by 79%), chemical usage (by 23,500 gallons a year), clear-coat usage (14,000 gallons a year), general waste from masking (plastic caps, acetone rags, paint filters), energy usage (by over 10%), and water usage (12,000 gallons a day).

Recycling/ Reuse Project Rain Barrel - City of Monticello Partnership with Ball Corp, Monticello

The City of Monticello Wastewater Utility developed a rain barrel project to address the cost and concerns of utility customers with the added cost to water their lawns and gardens following the end of allowances for "sprinkler rates." Partnering with Ball Corporation which provided 55 gallon barrels from food-grade soap, the barrels were provided at no cost to customers to collect rainwater to use on lawns and in gardens. The barrels give the community a way to cut costs and use stormwater runoff, preventing it from running into nearby rivers, lakes, and combined sewers. Ninety-five residents have received a free rain barrel.

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