Massachusetts Residents Receive Prestigious Regional EPA Environmental Award in Ceremony Recognizing 40th Anniversary of Earth Day
Release Date: 04/22/2010
Contact Information: EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010
(Boston, Mass. – April 22, 2010) – Seven individuals and ten organizations from Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts are:
Lifetime Achievement Merit Award:
George Buckley and Jack Spengler
The Sustainability and Environmental Management program they founded at the Harvard Extension School now includes over 20 courses and two Master degree concentrations, and George Buckley and Jack Spengler have become leaders in distance education programs, virtual field trips and the latest topics in sustainability. Over 5,000 students have taken courses in Environmental Management, Global Climate Change, Sustainable Communities and Life Cycle Analysis, and the programs have attracted students from business, industry, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, the military, education and the media. Students have taken course material back to their towns, schools, industries and businesses to share knowledge, change practices and expand environmental awareness. Buckley and Spengler lead the Environmental Club and have joined with local high schools to bring students and teachers into their courses. Home-schooled students also have taken their classes. A special outreach program provides on-site field trip assistance to local schools, and they have sponsored international collaboration with colleges, agencies and public schools in Cyprus, Taiwan, the Netherlands Antilles and Chile. Beyond their endeavors with the Sustainability and Environmental Management Program, the pair are active in environmental consulting and community service, serving on many boards of environmental and scientific organizations. Both have had deep experience as field researchers.
Marcia P. “Marcy” Crowley (posthumous)
Over the last 25 years, Marcy Crowley was a leading environmental advocate in local government. Crowley, who died in April at the age of 86, first got involved in the community as a member of the local Ski Club. This escalated into participation in Wayland town government, Wayland League of Women Voters, Wayland Finance Committee and the MBTA Advisory Board. When she got involved in the Advisory Board for the Environmental League of Massachusetts, her environmental dedication grew. She was a founding member in 1983 of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Environmental Policy Committee, which she chaired for 12 years. During that time, Crowley worked on identifying cost-effective ways to close municipal landfills, a comprehensive recycling plan for the state, state revolving loan fund legislation for water and sewer infrastructure construction programs and a solid waste master plan. Crowley also also served on the MMA Board, the Massachusetts Selectman Association Board and as a founding member of Women Elected Municipal Officials.
For 37 years, Paul Hogan of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has made invaluable contributions to achieving Clean Water Act goals. Hogan began his career as a staff engineer in the Technical Services Branch of the Massachusetts Division of Water Pollution Control in 1972 after graduating from Tufts University and earned two master’s degrees from Northeastern University in environmental engineering and public administration. An accomplished engineer, historian, and administrator, Hogan served DEP in various technical and supervisory capacities, most recently as the section chief for the Surface Water Discharge Permit Program, and before that as deputy regional director of DEP Central Regional Office, overseeing the drinking water, wetland protection and waste water programs. Hogan was instrumental in establishing the Blackstone River Initiative, the largest interstate water quality project at the time, and in integrating the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative into the DEP regional offices. During his career, Hogan has managed and directed all aspects of water permitting and water resource projects. His institutional knowledge of permitting and his willingness to share his experience with citizens, as well as local, state and federal regulators, made Hogan a valued professional. Hogan’s practical expertise and personal allowed him to mediate between and among the various interests that seek to influence the outcome of any NPDES permit deliberation.
During 37 years with DEP, and throughout his life, Arthur Screpetis was a champion of the natural environment. Screpetis, who died in December, left an enduring impact on the environment. He began his career with the state in 1972 at the Division of Water Pollution Control and soon transferred to the Technical Services Program, where as a member of the illustrious “dirty dozen” he did water quality and biological monitoring surveys. Screpetis specialized in evaluating rivers, streams and wetlands. Stream and lake inventories that he developed are still used today in Massachusetts’ water quality management programs and Geographical Information Systems. Over 20 to 30 years, Art spearheaded hundreds of projects. His work on the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative and the Massachusetts Estuaries Program were especially noteworthy. Screpetis was committed to using science to build quality into every aspect of environmental projects. It was not uncommon for him to spend weekends doing everything from observing wildlife to holding special training sessions for the Boy Scouts of America on aquatic plant species. As a wildlife biologist, he was one of the first scientists in Massachusetts to begin mapping beaver movements in the Quabbin Watershed and the migration of woodcock. He was also one of the first scientists to document the presence of coyote in the Northeast.
Brian Woolley, who died in October, made schools safer for children and faculty in New Bedford, his hometown. In 2000, Woolley first took on industrial pollution problems tied to the Keith Middle School, New Bedford High School and Paul Walsh Athletic Field — all located around a dump site near Parker Street where companies for decades burned trash. In 2000, the city had discovered contamination at McCoy Field, where the Keith Middle School was later built. When Woolley heard the city was planning to build a school on that site, he founded Wasted Away, now called C.L.E.A.N., a neighborhood activist group that worked to get officials to fix problems at the middle school. New Bedford High School was also built on the site, which is contaminated with PCBs and other toxic substances. Many of Woolley’s initial concerns were addressed and he once said Keith Middle School is on “one of the cleanest contaminated sites in the city.” In 2007, at the age of 50, Brian was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. A lifelong resident of New Bedford, Brian lived on Summit Street with his wife near the site of the former city burn dump. He never knew if living on this site contributed to either his ASL or his 1976 diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Father to three children, Brian worked as a truck driver for Hallsmith-Sysco and later was a shuttle driver for the Woods Hole-Martha’s Vineyard-Nantucket Steamship Authority. He was president of the Nautical Whaler’s Parrot Head Club, something he and his wife founded in 2000.
Individual Merit Award:
Jacqui Vachon-Jackson and Steve Fischer
Jacqui Vachon-Jackson, director of housing programs for the Worcester Community Development Program, has won more than $46 million of HUD lead abatement grants to help make low-income housing safe. Steve Fischer of the Worcester Regional Environmental Council successfully started and coordinated the Worcester Community Mobilization Network to prevent childhood lead poisoning in Worcester. Together, their work for the safety of children in Worcester deserves recognition. Before she came to Worcester, Vachon-Jackson ran lead abatement programs in Somerville and Lowell. Based on her work she was named to the Worcester position and will run the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Fund Program, in addition to the HUD lead abatement grant program. She began her career as a regional health educator for the state DPH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and has dedicated more than 15 years to high-risk communities. Fischer’s Community Mobilization Network brought together faith-based groups, refugee and migrant organizations and other agencies and people in Worcester to reduce childhood lead poisoning. As a result of his work he was named director of the Regional Environmental Council.
Environmental, Community, Academia & Nonprofit Organizations Merit Award:
Brooks School in North Andover has been a leader in reducing electricity use on its campus. The school last year invested more than $60,000 to install computers and software that encourages changes in behavior from students and adults on campus. The school became a test site for pioneering technology developed by TellEmotion, a new company formed by students and faculty at Dartmouth College. In addition to installing 25 electric meters that monitor energy performance of buildings, TellEmotion’s technology includes animated polar bears whose “happiness” is directly tied into real-time electricity use in each dorm. When computers are left running or power strips not flipped off, for instance, the bear will fall into the ice cold water as displayed on monitors located where students see the impact of their behavior. After nearly a year, the school has seen that electricity consumption drops 10 to 12 percent when the bears are visible. Students have now begun a three-year effort through the Brooks Environmental Club to reduce electrical use on campus. In addition to its work in electric reduction, the school has also taken steps in recycling, community gardens integrating local farm produce, green cleaning and an environmental science curriculum that uses real issues on the school campus.
Greater Brockton Asthma Coalition
The Greater Brockton Asthma Coalition, a team of more than 27 organizations, was coordinated by the Healthy Homes Program to focus on high-risk neighborhoods in the Brockton area, which has one of the highest asthma emergency room and hospitalization rates in the state. The coalition assesses houses for environmental and safety hazards and educates residents about asthma and healthy home techniques. In visits to more than 100 families suffering from asthma and other respiratory conditions, the coalition identified asthma triggers like smoke from woodstoves, mold and tobacco smoke. They offered to remove mold, provide fans, install safer heating systems and do moisture control or weatherization, among other things. The coalition has organized parent workshops in schools and trained more than 50 nurses, teachers and administrators to recognize and reduce asthma triggers, more safely manage insects and other pests and report indoor air quality problems. As a result, the Brockton school system has increased the number of students with asthma action plans, linking health care providers with school and home. The group is providing this training to all southeastern Massachusetts school nurses, early childcare providers and weatherization programs.
Green Needham Collaborative
The Green Needham Collaborative in just three years dramatically increased public awareness of and participation in the need to reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. The collaborative works with Needham residents, municipal government, schools,
local businesses, churches and civic organizations to promote energy efficiency, energy conservation and clean energy as a way of cutting carbon emissions and saving money. It also supports organizations doing related work under the Green Needham “umbrella” by supplying a forum where different groups can communicate and coordinate activities. The collaborative works with groups in the neighboring communities of Newton, Dedham, and Wellesley. The 10% Energy Challenge, GNC’s flagship project, was introduced in January 2009, designed in collaboration with an Olin College of Engineering student to give users a simple way to make energy-saving plans. Using an on-line checklist, users can calculate how many pounds of CO2 would be kept out of the atmosphere by each action. In April 2009, eight local civic groups earned awards for motivating their members to take the 10% Challenge. Five Needham schools also participated and by the end of 2009, the 464 households that participated in the 10% Energy Challenge had committed to actions that would keep 3,961,874 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere each year. The goal is to double participation to reach 1,000 households.
Home Energy Efficiency Team
Audrey Schulman, Sue Butler, Steve Morr-Wineman, Rob Riman, Matthew Schreiner, Jason Taylor, Lilah Glick
The Home Energy Efficiency Team in Cambridge was formed in 2008 to organize free weatherization parties to teach volunteers how to lower their energy bills and carbon emissions. The program not only saves energy, but also builds community, creates social marketing for energy efficiency and helps to facilitate exchanges of ideas. The Home Energy Efficiency Team addresses the major problem of older housing being very energy efficient. HEET, as it is called, formed with the goal of bringing neighbors together to weatherize homes in Cambridge. Using the barn-raising model, the all-volunteer team aims to reduce the carbon footprint of specific houses, teach participants how to make their own homes more efficient and build a sense of community. HEET has drawn a tremendous response from the community, with monthly barn-raisings. Participants have included neighbors, contractors and city officials. In 2009, HEET began to collaborate with other groups and replicate the program in other communities as far away as Worcester. In less than two years, the Home Energy Efficiency Team has weatherized 30 buildings and eight institutions, held 22 events and switched 1,368 light bulbs to CLFs.
Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc.
Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc., known as HRI, is a leader in the greening of affordable housing. With a long track record of building green affordable buildings, it won a LEED certificate for its Trolley Square property. Over the last two years, HRI has shifted its focus to energy retrofits of existing buildings at its 64 properties. Retrofits in the past year include the gut-rehab of a building that caught fire. The goal was to have net-zero energy use, reduce heating loss through insulation, conserve water and seal the envelope. In 2009, HRI focused on two of the least efficient buildings in its portfolio. Boilers were replaced in these four-story masonry buildings with high efficiency condensing units. This along with other improvements appears to have saved between 40 and 45 percent compared to former heating energy use levels. HRI is a leader among nonprofit affordable housing owners in its effort to reduce their impact on the environment.
Sustainable Belmont is being recognized for two substantial accomplishments in particular. The first accomplishment was finishing a Climate Action Plan for Belmont. The second was adoption by the selectmen and town meeting of the first two major recommendations in this plan. The recommendations were to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and to create a permanent energy committee responsible for this goal. Established in 2005, the group is charged with helping the town achieve a single part of Belmont’s vision as determined by the Town’s Vision 21 Implementation Committee: to become “an environmentally responsible community.” The volunteer community group will work with homeowners and citizens, promoting climate change programs. It will provide public education on related issues. Sustainable Belmont is proud to have had its platform adopted.
Governmental Merit Award:
City of Malden PAYT Program
Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard and seven members of the City Council voted to implement Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) trash collection effective in June 2008, and the program started the following October. In an era of an unprecedented decline in property values, tax revenue and state aid to cities and towns, communities must raise resources and cut costs to maintain vital services. The PAYT program helps with this. It promotes waste reduction by allowing each resident to control the cost of trash disposal and provides free, unlimited recycling. Under the program ALL residents, not just homeowners, pay their fair share of the costs of collecting and disposing of the trash they generate. The program at first was unpopular, but it exceeded expectations after one year. Compliance is over 98 percent, recycling increased by 74 percent, solid waste tonnage dropped by 50 percent and the city has become a regional and national model.
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 like Carol Brown of Minuteman Vocational High School worked closely with water utility operators and state regulators to offer students detailed and hands-on training on drinking water operations. To engage adults for possible green jobs in the water sector, a 15-hour classroom course was designed and offered at the Worcester Public Schools’ Night Life Program. Finally, to bridge the gap between training and job placement, the Massachusetts Partnership provided internships for newly trained students. 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 Merit Award:
Greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks grew almost 80 percent between 1990 and 2007, and freight trucks now account for about 6 percent of all GHG emissions in this country. Motor carrier fleets like Braun’s face a huge challenge: how to get products to customers and stay in business using trucks that have become cleaner but less fuel-efficient and that keep drivers comfortable without idling. Braun’s answer was to join EPA’s SmartWay program at its 2004 inception, take full advantage of the strategies and technologies offered and share its successes to bring New England peers to a higher level of environmental professionalism. The company has sought, evaluated and adopted cutting-edge technology: testing fuel- saving equipment like Auxiliary Power Units (for cab comfort without idling), aerodynamic tractor and trailer features (for reduced wind drag) and single-wide tires with aluminum rims and automatic tire inflation devices (for reduced rolling resistance) on select trucks. In addition, Braun’s educated and evaluated staff on fuel-efficient driving techniques, set engine controls to limit idling and speed and monitored truck performance using wireless real-time engine monitoring. Braun’s was one of the first to invest in SmartWay-certified tractors, which package all these fuel-saving features on brand-new trucks.
Phoenix Park, LLC
Phoenix Park is a 300,000-square-foot refurbished 12-building office and industrial complex located in Shirley. The original cotton mill was built by the Shirley Shakers in 1850 and later owned by Sampson Cordage Works and its predecessors, which manufactured rope for nearly 100 years. The building was vacant for more than 10 years before it was bought by the current owner in 1998. Restoration of the old mill has been a massive undertaking, which has contributed significantly to the local community. Located close to the commuter rail, Phoenix Park sits on 56 acres and houses more than 50 businesses. The building restoration, which continues, includes several steps to “go green.” To reduce energy consumption, Phoenix Park invested in energy efficient windows, HVAC systems, and lighting, as well as in maximum roof insulation, low flow plumbing fixtures and waste stream recycling. In 2009, the owner established a solar energy system and is installing 2,530 Evergreen 200 Watt Solar Panels and Solectria Renewables Photovoltaic Inverters that are expected to offset about half the total electrical load.
More Information: Environmental Merit Awards (epa.gov/ne/ra/ema)
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Editor's Note: On 4/27/10, EPA corrected an omission to the write up for George Buckley and Jack Spengler. We added the words "Environmental Management Systems" and "at Harvard Extension School" immediately before and after the words "program they founded".