April 22, 2010
Connecticut Residents Receive Prestigious Regional EPA Environmental Award in Ceremony Recognizing 40th Anniversary of Earth Day
One individual and four groups in Connecticut will be honored on Earth Day in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presents the 2010 Environmental Merit Awards. During a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the organization recognized significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving by 40 people and groups across New England.
The merit awards allow EPA to recognize individuals and groups whose work has protected or improved the region’s environment in distinct ways. Given out by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.
"Today, on this milestone anniversary of Earth Day, I’d like to acknowledge and honor people, communities and businesses that have made significant strides in protecting New England’s health," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England.
Spalding noted, during ceremonies to honor the winners, that President Obama issued an Earth Day challenge to Americans to take action - in homes, in the community and in schools or businesses, to improve the environment.
Quoting Obama, he said, "’It can be as simple as riding the bus or the subway to work, making your home more energy efficient, or organizing your neighbors to clean up a nearby park.’"
The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, are awarded in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals. The Environmental Merit Award Winners from Connecticut are:
Lifetime Achievement Award:
Lee E. Dunbar
Lee Dunbar could be considered the face of the many water quality planning and management successes of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection over the last 30 years. Dunbar has tackled the most complex management challenges and produced effective environmental outcomes. He has played a key role in developing the state’s programs for water quality-based effluent limits, toxicity testing, pollutant limits and streamflow standards, among other programs. While Dunbar led negotiations surrounding these programs with arguments to support his proposals, he always credited the staff as "the brains," referring to himself as "the mouth." He made certain to include the interests and expertise of a broad cross-section of professionals and the public to ensure a comprehensive analysis that would have the desired environmental outcome. He aimed to manage the state’s water resources with a foundation of science, sustainability and the public trust. Lee’s efforts at the state level gained him regional and national attention early in his career. He was known at EPA as a person who was generous with his time, famous for his after-hour discussions on many topics and expert on how to best use state and federal programs to accomplish the intended environmental gains.
Local, State or Federal Governmental Environmental Merit Award
Connecticut Disaster Debris Plan Team
Tessa Gutowski, Frank Gagliardo, Judy Pahl, Paul Gibb, Paul Greco
The Connecticut Disaster Debris Plan Team, made up of Tessa Gutowski and Frank Gagliardo of the DEP; Judy Pahl and Paul Gibb, Jr. of the state DEMHS and Paul Greco of the state Department of Administrative Services, is recognized for its effort to establish statewide plans and contracts for Connecticut to manage debris in the event of a major hurricane or other natural disaster. The team coordinated its efforts with various state government agencies, drafted Connecticut’s Disaster Debris Management Plan and secured essential contractor services for debris removal and monitoring. Connecticut’s Debris Plan is the first statewide plan approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is a model in New England and nationally.
Connecticut DEP LEAN Implementation Team
Amey Marrella, Robert Bell, Jeff Caiola, Karen Caliendo, Pat DeRosa, Diane Duva, Peter Francis, Robert Girard, Tessa Gutowski, Kim Hudak, Rick Jacobson, Nicole Lugli, Elizabeth McAuliffe, Ric Pirolli, Peter Zack
Through the LEAN initiative, Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection is eliminating wasteful, time-consuming steps from permitting, enforcement and other processes, while maintaining the state’s strong environmental standards. These LEAN improvements allow the agency to focus on its true mission of protecting the state’s environment, while freeing staff resources to address new environmental challenges. The LEAN approach involves identifying and minimizing wasted time and effort. Through events involving all employees and continuous improvement, and week-long exercises, staff teams identify needed improvements and develop a one-year plan to put them into practice. In an era of tight budgets, the LEAN initiative puts more staff on the front line of environmental protection as efficiencies increase.
Partnerships for Green Jobs for the Water Sector
Massachusetts Water Works Association, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Minuteman Career and Tech. H.S. – Lexington MA, Connecticut Section of American Water Works Association, Water and People Program – Portland CT, Connecticut Department of Public Health and New England Water Works Association
Providing safe public drinking water rests on the shoulders of a highly challenged workforce of drinking water operators. An estimated 40 to 50 percent of drinking water operators in the US will be eligible for retirement in 5 to 10 years, with New England the hardest hit. The Massachusetts and Connecticut agencies and associations named in this award have pulled together to solve this upcoming crisis while fostering a new trained work force. Massachusetts and Connecticut embraced the challenge of training a new cadre of water system operators. To promote enthusiasm for the water profession, these states formed unique public-private partnerships that are national models. Under the Vocational Technical High School Initiative, high school teachers worked closely with water utility operators and state regulators to offer students detailed and hands-on training on drinking water operations. The amount of time and work put into this effort has made the Massachusetts Green Jobs for Water Initiative a national model. Like Massachusetts, Connecticut led the way in preparing students for careers in the water sector. Under the oversight of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Section of the American Water Works Association designed and funded a pilot program in Portland, Conn., called the Water and People Program. This popular high school course provides hands-on instruction, features trips to water utilities, supports a local cable show and prepares students to pass a water operators certification exam.
Business, Industry, Trade or Professional Organizations
Jonathan Rose Companies
Jonathan Rose Companies, with its understanding for the global demand for alternative energy, has developed green real estate nationwide and has helped Connecticut’s metropolitan and outlying regions break from traditional energy methods. The company’s leadership in developing the green and affordable Metro Green Apartment building in Stamford serves as a model of innovative green features for future property development. Finished in 2009, Metro Green Apartments features 50 green housing units on a formerly vacant brownfields site. The site plan encourages dense development while preserving open space for both residents and the public. Also in 2009 Jonathan Rose acted as planner for a team of national experts assembled by the EPA to engage residents, decision-makers and developers from Hartford and the surrounding region to develop strategies to create compact, mixed-use, mixed-income housing that gives residents better access to jobs and services. The project brings together issues of critical importance to Connecticut’s residents: better energy efficiency in homes, lower housing costs and more transportation choices.
More Information: Environmental Merit Awards (www.epa.gov/ne/ra/ema)
Pick 5 for the Environment - International
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It's My Environment Video Project
Show that it’s your environment by submitting a 10 second or less video clip of you or a group taking action for the environment, saying "It's My Environment!" EPA has put together an Earth Day 2010 compilation of submitted videos, check it out at: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/video/ or at www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4od4tOkz5Y and submit your own for the next one!