EPA honors Pacific Southwest environmental heroes
SAN FRANCISCO -- During the agency’s ninth annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco today, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri presented plaques to over three dozen organizations and individuals throughout the Pacific Southwest in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2006.
“These organizations and individuals have applied creativity, teamwork and leadership in addressing many of the West’s most sensitive and complex environmental challenges,” Nastri said. “Thanks to their efforts, our air, water and land will be cleaner and safer for generations to come. The winners set an example for all of us to follow.”
The Region 9 Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Thirty eight groups and individuals were selected from 160 nominees received this year from businesses, media, local, government officials, tribes, environmental organizations and citizen activists.
This year’s winners include singer-songwriter and Grammy award nominee Jack Johnson with “Friends” who is being honored for making an impact in Hawai’i and for promoting environmentally-conscious music, enterprises and charitable events, a Fresno, Calif.-based OK Produce, a full service wholesale company that has become essentially “green,” and a San Francisco Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition’s Stop Junk Mail campaign that motivated more than half a million residents to take action to reduce unwanted mail.
The winners and basis for recognition are:
Environmental, Community, Non-profit
California Safe Schools
Toluca Lake, CA
Robina Suwol founded California Safe Schools in March 1998 after a group of grade school students walked through a cloud of pesticides as they headed to class. Suwol’s youngest son, whose asthma had been under control, experienced a severe asthma attack. Her research revealed that a single exposure to herbicide Princep could cause tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and other symptoms. California Safe Schools and LA Unified District partnered to create the first national policy for public schools that embraced the Precautionary Principle and Parents Right to Know regarding pesticides in schools. The policy has become a national and international model, and led to California law-- the Healthy Schools Act 2000. California Safe Schools also sponsored AB405, which was signed by the governor to prevent California K-12 school sites from using experimental pesticides. Ms. Suwol continues to provide national leadership as a children’s environmental health activist.
Carson City, NV
ComputerCorps refurbishes, reuses and recycles computer and electronic waste products it receives from individuals, businesses, government agencies and community organizations. The eWaste is reconstructed into products for re-deployment back into the community or sold in bulk for reuse. To date, ComputerCorps has kept more then 1.6 million computer items out of landfills, which represents more than 4 million pounds of electronic waste diverted from landfills. 7,500 computer systems have been upgraded, repaired and/or refurbished. More than 8,000 individuals have received equipment and/or training, along with 400 organizations and schools that have received recycled computers. ComputerCorps also works through schools to identify needy families to provide computers at no cost through the Every-Home-A-Classroom program.
Environmental Health Coalition
National City, CA
Diane Takvorian led efforts to remove idling and parked diesel trucks from residential streets of Barrio Logan to reduce diesel pollution. She also worked on the Old Town-National City Specific Plan to eliminate auto body shops and other small polluting industries from the residential core of the community. Takvorian and her organization also worked with state legislators to pass a law prohibiting the sale of lead-contaminated candy. In addition, she formed a program that teaches lead-hazard reduction to the community. She has worked with her Mexican counterparts to clean up an abandoned lead smelting Maquiladora and has been a leading community advocate in the debate over the need for a new power plant along the Chula Vista Bayfront.
Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Less than a year ago, Lewis Green became the director of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and took on the challenge of preventing loss of accreditation with the American Zoo and Aquariums Association and possible closure. As a first step, with the help of the city of Fresno, he successfully rerouted most of the zoo’s waste stream to recycling. He also reestablished the zoo as a leader in the San Joaquin Valley for environmental education and conservation. Recently granted $6.7 million to transform the zoo from 18 to 39 acres, Green is working to incorporate recycled-product materials into the construction of animal habitats.
Pima Association of Governments
Environmental Planning Team
Pima Association of Governments’ environmental planning team is an excellent model of building partnerships to speed the rate of environmental protection. The team organizes and facilitates regional committees on air, watershed, invasive species, wildlife transportation and strategic energy planning. PAG’s Clean Cities Coalition is nationally recognized, and is highly successful in raising awareness of the value of alternative fuels. PAG’s Air Quality team sponsored an air quality forum on trends in the Southwest to improve communication on air pollution research and trends in the region. PAG is also an integral part of watershed planning efforts in the region. In 2006, PAG staff produced numerous GIS maps to help local planners, collected field data for a state designated outstanding waterway, and evaluated water chemistry data for a groundwater replenishment project, which is a vital part of the region’s water resources portfolio. Through its stormwater management working group, PAG and local jurisdictions completed their 4th successful multi-media regional outreach effort to raise public awareness of stormwater pollution issues.
Biodiesel Green Ambassadors
The Biodiesel Green Ambassadors program is a grass-roots effort that gives students the skills and knowledge to become active in transforming their local and global communities. The 8-week hands-on “Green Ambassadors in-training” biodiesel course is a collaboration with a team of mentors, teachers, community members and experts teach biodiesel use, green fuel, green energy and ecological practices. Students design and launch their own Web site and My Space page, make batches of biodiesel from used cooking oil, fuel diesel vehicles with their biodiesel, and create videos to highlight different aspects of biodiesel. At the conclusion of the course, the students earn the “Green Ambassador” certification for biodiesel and take their new skills into the local community to teach their peers for the final phase of the program.
The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative
Asian Health Services
The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, a group of public health and environmental advocates, nail salon workers and owners, and community-based groups, promotes the health and safety of nail salon workers, owners, and students in California. The group proactively addresses environmental health issues facing nail salon communities through policy advocacy, research, outreach and education strategies. In 2006, the collaborative reviewed the U.S. EPA “Design for Environment Nail Salon Guide” and provided technical expertise on hazardous chemicals in nail salon products. Through the Breast Cancer Fund’s Safe Cosmetic Campaign, the collaborative was instrumental in the 2005 passage of California’s SB 484, the Safe Cosmetic Act. This bill requires manufacturers to disclose products containing chemicals known by the state to cause cancer or birth defects. The collaborative meets regularly to set policies and share knowledge, resources, and best practices to successfully guide its work and activities. Through the collaborative’s unified collective voice, the public’s awareness about environmental health in nail salons has increased greatly.
Tzu Chi Foundation, USA
San Francisco, CA
The Tzu Chi Foundation, an international volunteer-based organization dedicated to environmental projects and other humanitarian work, contributed thousands of volunteer hours in 2006 to support environmental projects and recycling. Last year, Tzu Chi volunteers collected 750,000 pounds of recycling materials in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. The foundation also provided free daily cardboard pickups for computer companies in Silicon Valley and weekly recyclable newspaper pickups from Chinese newspaper agencies, resulting in the recycling of 150 tons of cardboard and 218 tons of newspaper. Altogether, the Tzu Chi Foundation collected 1.4 million pounds of recycling materials including aluminum, cans, bottles, plastics, newspapers, cardboard, and metals. In 2006, Tzu Chi volunteers also participated in the City’s Ocean Beach Clean Up, planted trees in the Sunset district, and worked with the San Francisco Clean City Coalition to sweep residential and commercial corridors.
Natural Resources Defense Council and Friant Water Users Authority
San Francisco, CA
In September 2006, an NRDC-led coalition of conservationists and fishermen reached an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Users Authority to literally bring the San Joaquin River back to life. Almost 60 years ago, the federal government built the Friant Dam on the upper San Joaquin River, creating an agricultural cornucopia that also spelled environmental catastrophe for the river. Most years, the San Joaquin River disappeared for 50 miles, eliminating historic salmon runs and eradicating vibrant riparian habitat. Thanks to the leadership of the NRDC coalition, enviromentalists and agricultural businesses managed to reach a historic accord to secure funds to restore the nearly forgotten river. Once federal funds are available, restoration will begin for 60 miles of dry riverbed with year-round flowing water, reintroducing the river’s legendary salmon run, as well as maintaining an abundant water supply certainty for the Friant area farmers.
Beautify CNMI! is a coalition of concerned citizens, private groups, and government entities who work “hands on” to enhance and preserve the natural beauty of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. With the help of more than 3,000 volunteers, the coalition recently organized several events, collectively removing over 50,000 pounds of garbage from public properties and historic sites including Laulau Bay, the Japanese Peace Memorial, and the beaches and roadways of Saipan. Beautify CNMI also planted more than 1,776 native trees and 24 flame trees, the Commonwealth’s state tree, throughout the island. Through committees, Beautify CNMI! also addresses illegal dumping, recycling, and environmental legislation and strives to improve public knowledge of environmental issues. Beautify CNMI’s other projects include training for tree planting, litter control and graffiti to mural painting with kids, among others.
Chartwell School is a K-8 school for children with dyslexia and other learning differences. The school’s new campus, which opened in 2006 on the reclaimed Fort Ord military base in Seaside, Calif. is a great model of green building innovations. The school’s solar power system will produce more than 53 million watt-hours of renewable electricity per year, offsetting 54,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. This energy savings is equivalent to planting 8 acres of trees. Chartwell will also be the first school in the country to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council Platinum rating for Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design, and is an international model for future green buildings and schools. The Chartwell School is currently being used as an example for those competing in the Lifecycle Building Challenge, a national competition for green building ideas, policies, tools, and designs.
Jack Johnson and Friends
Kokua Hawai’i Foundation
Singer-songwriter and Grammy award nominee Jack Johnson with “Friends” made an incredible impact in Hawai’i and worldwide during 2006 for promoting environmentally-conscious music, enterprises and charitable events. Jack Jackson and his wife, Kim, founded the Kokua Hawai’i Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports environmental education programs in Hawai’i. All proceeds from the foundation’s annual Earth Day Kokua Festival at the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu are used to further support and expand school recycling in Hawai’i, sponsor environmental curricula and field trips. Jack Johnson adapted the classic children’s song, “Three is a Magic Number,” and reinterpreted the song as “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” for a call to protect the environment as part of the music soundtrack to the animated film “Curious George” released last year. As part of the “One Percent for the Planet” program, the record company donated to environmental education a portion of proceeds from more than one million copies sold of the soundtrack.
Federal, Tribal, State or Local Government
Robert Kard and Randy Ballard
The Maricopa County Air Quality Department Enforcement Division
Bob Kard and Randy Ballard have led a remarkable air enforcement program in Arizona. In 2006, Arizona’s Maricopa County Air Quality Department Enforcement Division negotiated a record $3.7 million in penalties as part of a revamped effort to not only reduce but prevent air pollution in one of the country’s most rapidly developing regions. The division also made an effort to incorporate supplemental environmental projects into more of its enforcement settlements, providing the regulated community the opportunity to offset fines by investing in projects that benefit local communities and the environment. Last year, the enforcement division also achieved the authority to negotiate Title V, non-Title V, dust, and asbestos cases. Additionally, the division began incorporating training opportunities into environmental settlements as a way to conduct outreach to the regulated community and, hopefully, prevent air pollution in the future.
City of West Hollywood
Mayor John Heilman
West Hollywood, CA
West Hollywood -- urbanized, densly populated and home to some of the most popular restaurants, night clubs, and hotels in the world – has put in place an innovative program to recycle restaurant food waste. In the first year, half of West Hollywood’s 220 restaurants participated in the program, recycling 80 percent of waste generated. West Hollywood overcame enormous challenges and established an affordable, feasible commercial waste program for the city’s business community, which creates about 20 percent of the city’s waste. The city worked with its trash hauler and identified restaurants with a preponderance of food. The hauler created a “restaurant route” where trash bins are picked up and taken to a materials recovery facility for sorting and noncompostable materials are removed. Recyclable glass, plastic and metal are recovered and the remaining material is taken to California Biomass in Victorville to be composted. The finished compost is used as agricultural cover that reduces water and chemical use-- important goals for this water-hungry region.
Oscar Romo, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Clay Phillips, California Resources Agency-State Parks
Imperial Beach, CA
Oscar Romo of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and Clay Phillips of California State Parks are a visionary team addressing issues facing the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Romo worked with Mexican authorities, organized classes, provided technical information, solicited in-kind support, and streamlined activities to reduce negative impacts to the reserve. Phillips is a spokesperson, convener of stakeholders and a voice for progress toward the same goal. Their combined efforts focused on three Tijuana canyons that drain into the reserve. With funding from the Coastal Conservancy and the EPA, the duo, with community, nonprofit, and agency partners, identified over $2 million in projects to protect the reserve and establish an integrated program in the U.S. and Mexico. Romo and Phillips were able to showcase these projects at the recent California Biodiversity Council meeting and site tour in San Diego and Tijuana. Impressed with their groundbreaking work, many participating agencies pledged support in 2007.
Pollution Prevention Team
Naval Base Ventura County
Point Mugu, CA
The Naval Base Ventura County Complex includes facilities at Point Mugu, Port Hueneme and San Nicolas Island. Three separate commands make up the Pollution Prevention Team that continues to make tremendous strides. Some examples: a biodiesel plant is under development to produce up to a million gallons per year and is being tested in the National Park Service, Navy, and Ventura County vehicles and boats. A large scale powder coating system has reduced paint and solvent usage and disposal by 80 percent, energy reduction strategies have reduced energy consumption by 47 percent since 1985, and a risk-based assessment has been conducted on all large electrical devices to ensure spill prevention and control measures are in place. A project review board ensures all Navy projects are reviewed for environmental impacts and pollution prevention and many eductation, outreach and partnering initiatives have been implemented.
Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group Project Managers
Karin North, Environmental Compliance Group
Palo Alto, CA
Jennifer Jackson, East Bay Municipal Utility District
In May 2006, the Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group Pharmaceuticals Committee piloted a Bay Area collection event for residential pharmaceutical waste. Concerned that waste drugs were detected in effluent from wastewater treatment plants, and in water, sediment, and biota in San Francisco Bay, the group coordinated this pilot program with 17 agencies managing the collection event details, including location, staffing, and pharmacist participation and documentation of controlled substances. Agencies and nonprofits including: San Francisco Department of the Environment and Save-The-Bay, worked with Walgreen’s Corporation to contribute more than 1,980 staff hours in 38 collection events. More than 1,500 residents disposed of 3,634 pounds of pharmaceutical waste at 39 locations throughout the Bay Area. Publicity and media outreach were coordinated regionally and included: a dedicated Web site, newspaper ads, more than 215,000 direct mailings, more than 30,000 flyers distributed, 320 transit ads, and radio public service ads.
Arizona Department of Agriculture
Ing. Jose Lionel Camalich Lagarda
Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Jose Camalich, Food Safety and Plant Health Director for the Secretaria de Agriculturia,Ganaderia, Recursos Hidraulicos, Pesca Y Acuaculturia and Jack Peterson, the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s associate director of the Environmental Services Branch, organized a pesticide collection event for the growers of Yuma County, Arizona. In coordination with the EPA and part the larger Border 2012 pesticide collection program, the project included the adjacent agricultural area of San Luis, in Sonora, Mexico. The project collected over 70,000 pounds of waste pesticides in the Arizona-Sonora border area. Working directly with growers, local agriculture officials and industry representatives, Legarda and Peterson introduced this opportunity for pesticide stewardship in the Yuma agricultural community. Growers were allowed to bring any unwanted or obsolete pesticides in for proper disposal. Jack identified a location in Yuma to hold the event, while Jose identified a location in San Luis. Both publicized the events, developed a registration form that could be used for both collection events and conducted crucial pre-registration process for participants. Pesticides collected were either cancelled or severely-restricted. Many of the waste pesticides collected had not been stored properly, packaging had degraded, and children were playing in or near some of the waste piles. Since the collection event, Jose has kept the issue of collection of waste pesticides on the forefront in Mexico. As a direct result of the project, Mexico’s environmental officials have asked each local plant health official to inventory their growers to determine the extent of waste pesticides held on farms throughout the country.
Paula Stigler and Lenore Volturno, Pala Band of Mission Indians
Javier Ceseña, Mike Wilken and Horacio Gonzales Moncada of the Native Cultures Institute of Baja California
Kathleen Coates Hedberg, Aqualink Water System
Hiram Sarabia, JA JAN Coalition
Thanks to an extraordinary partnership among Mexican and U.S. tribes, grassroots organizations, government agencies and volunteers, indigenous communities in Baja California, Mexico have much-improved drinking water. Following a 2005 assessment revealing severe water contamination in these rural, indigenous communities, the Native Cultures Institute of Baja California sought funds for drinking water infrastructure improvements in the communities. The EPA Border 2012 program provided $66,000 and Mexico provided $900,000 to construct new drinking water wells and water distributions systems in San Antonio Necua and San Jose de la Zorra. With additional EPA Border 2012 funds, the Pala Band of Mission Indians is coordinating the participation of U.S. tribes and local water agencies in Baja California to train communities on how to properly operate and maintain the new water systems -- protecting public health of the people for many years to come.
Kathryn Fergus and Chester Sergent
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
Las Vegas, NV
In the fastest growing state in the country, southern and northern Nevada recycling coordinators Kathryn Fergus and Chester Sergent have made huge strides in increasing Nevada’s recycling rates. In 2005, the pair’s efforts resulted in the recycling of more than 900,000 tons of municipal solid waste -- an increase of more than 22 percent from the previous year. In 2006, Fergus and Sergent coordinated three electronic waste recycling events and a Christmas tree recycling event to divert approximately 50,000 pounds of electronics and 10,187 trees from landfills. The pair also released a recycling guide for businesses and public agencies and revamped Nevada’s recycling Web site.
Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition
San Francisco, CA
Nationwide, more than 100 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water are used annually to produce junk mail. In 2006, Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition’s Stop Junk Mail campaign motivated more than half a million residents to take action to reduce unwanted mail. By pooling outreach funds, the unique coalition of 110 cities and counties in the Bay Area produced and funded a highly effective media campaign with radio spots heard more than eight million times by Bay Area residents in the campaign’s first month. The ads encouraged Bay Area residents to download the stop junkmail kit from the coalition’s Web site, stopjunkmail.org, or order the kit by phone. In 2006, over 672,000 Bay Area residents visited the Web site and the hotline received over 3,400 calls.
Ken Norton & Forest Blake
Hoopa Valley Tribe EPA
Under the guidance of environmental director Ken Norton, the Hoopa Valley Tribe Environmental Protection Agency expanded its water quality program and joined the Klamath Basin Water Quality work group. The agency also developed an air quality program that established air quality monitoring stations throughout the reservation. Ken also made it a point to reach out to the community on environmental matters, whether by conducting radio interviews or participating in school programs including the annual elementary school “Save the Salmon” presentations. Forest Blake, a water quality planner for the Hoopa Valley Tribe, individually designed an innovative winch and pulley system that made open dump cleanups safer and more economical. The system, called the “Blake Apparatus,” has enabled Hoopa Tribal EPA crews to cleanup up 4 large open dumps on a dangerously-sloped hillside and resulted in the removal of 44 tons of trash, appliances, and scrap metal from the reservation. Forest and the Hoopa Valley EPA have shared the design of this innovative tool with neighboring tribes that also struggle with costly illegal dumping on steep slopes and riverbanks.
The Yurok Tribe Environmental Program
The Yurok Tribe Environmental Program produced environmental results, built partnerships, and developed innovative techniques to protect water, air, land, and cultural resources throughout the Klamath Basin. The program formed a five-tribe partnership to study water quality and established the first and most extensive network of consistent real-time water quality monitoring stations in the Klamath Basin. In less than two years, the tribe also advanced its air quality monitoring program to the point where real-time air quality advisories and health warnings are issued during wildfires. The Yurok tribe also made progress in enforcing against illegal dumps and formed a cultural resources program to conduct surveys that link the river’s health to the health and culture of its people.
University of California
Thanks to the leadership of Lesley Clark, the University of California recently integrated environmentally preferable purchasing standards and requirements into its contracts, which will affect $1.3 to $2 billion in University purchases over the next five years. Recent contracts for environmentally-friendly office supplies, computing equipment, janitorial supplies, furniture, carpet, organic food and food disposables, laboratory supplies, and travel have accounted for $900 million in spending. In addition, the university’s commitment to Green Building has resulted in 76 LEED registered projects resulting in dramatic energy efficiency, recycled-content product usage, and locally-produced building materials. The University of California has shared their environmentally-preferable purchasing expertise through its annual Sustainability Conference and by working with other colleges and universities across the country.
Village of Mishongnovi
Second Mesa, AZ
Early in 2006, Mervin Yoyetewa became the Community Services Administrator for the Village of Mishongnovi, located atop Second Mesa on the Hopi Indian Reservation. For generations, villagers disposed of wastewater by tossing buckets and pans of wastewater from the mesa’s edge. Over time, this practice created a significant environmental and human health hazard. Mervin promoted and provided matching funds that enabled the installation of a new disposal system, which now carries wastewater directly to the village’s wastewater treatment facility. To preserve the architectural heritage of the ancient village, a rock retaining wall fashioned from native rock by traditional Hopi stone masons supports the new disposal system. Yoyetewa successfully improved the health and safety of his home village while honoring traditional ways of life that are centuries old.
Mayor, City of Calabasas
Over the last twenty years, Mayor Dennis Washburn of Calabasas, Calif. has served in numerous leadership positions and community roles to promote environmental protection and stewardship in the greater Los Angeles area. As mayor, he is leading the effort to construct a gold LEED certified Civic Center in Calabasas with an adjacent 15-acre park and trailhead system. His energy and leadership on multiple local and environmental councils have resulted in numerous restoration projects, including the restoration of Malibu Creek and Las Vigenes in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. He also played a pivotal role in the acquisition of the 5,500-acre Ahmanson Ranch, the 600-acre Gillette Ranch, and the 360+ acres at the National Park Service’s Paramount Ranch, all of which became parklands and open spaces that now benefit the Southern California public.
Wawona Middle School
Through her vision and perserverance, Linda Nimer cultivated environmental awareness and action, not only in her classroom, but throughout Wawona Middle School and the city of Fresno. In order to develop a comprehensive recycling plan for her school and a curriculum to teach her special education students how to be environmental stewards, Nimer applied for and received a $10,000 grant from British Petroleum and used the grant to initiate one of the first school recycling programs in Fresno. Under her direction, the program began in the classroom, where special education students developed a traveling puppet shows to teach elementary students and others about recycling. Because of her inspirational work in integrating recycling into everyday activities at Wawona Middle School, the city of Fresno’s Recycling Program now looks to Nimer’s classroom and school as a pilot for future programs.
Mattole Restoration Council
Chris Larson, executive director of the Mattole Restoration Council, has led the council’s staff of 29 in a multitude of projects to improve water quality, forest health, and habitat for threatened salmon and steelhead in northwestern California’s rugged Mattole River watershed. Over the past seven years, Larson directed a highly successful program to reduce soil erosion from poorly designed roads and logging operations, working with 460 landowners and eight state and federal agencies to stabilize more than 800,000 cubic yards of sediment at more than 1,000 sites. The program also created incentives for low-impact forestry, organized the planting of 48,000 trees and the removal of 12 acres of invasive plants, and removed nine salmon migration barriers, restoring 4.75 miles of high-quality habitat. Thanks to this effort, voluntary water quality compliance has become widespread among large and small timber owners in the watershed.
Pima County, Arizona Supervisor Ray Carroll has been the inspiration and mainstay for the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and its implementation. He supported a County Transfer of Development Rights program, and the county’s 2004 Bond measure, which authorized $174.3 million for open space acquisitions. This enabled the county to acquire more than 25,000 acres in two years, including land with the endangered Pima Pineapple Cactus, and wildlife corridors that run from the Santa Rita Mountains to the Santa Cruz River.
Dr. Ruihong Zhang
University of California Davis
The University of California at Davis’s Dr. Ruihong Zhang may be the Thomas Edison of trash. She worked for years as part of the Davis Biogas Energy Project to develop a system that converts up to eight tons of food waste, yard waste, manure, and rice straw per day into compost, C02, and enough methane to generate power for 80 homes. Dr. Zhang’s “Anaerobic Phased Solids Digester” is an innovation that can help local communities worldwide simultaneously reduce solid waste AND greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The new system is already working at the Davis Biogas facility, thanks to a public-private partnership between UC Davis and Onsite Power Systems Inc. The potential is huge -- in California alone, five million tons of food scraps are dumped in landfills each year.
Laurie Bauer, RN, MPH
Ravenswood City School District
East Palo Alto, CA
Laurie Bauer, RN, a nurse for the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, has worked tirelessly since 2002 to improve the health of the district’s more than 4,500 students -- especially those with asthma, who frequently miss school and are at increased risk of asthma attacks. With funding from an EPA Tools for Schools grant, Laurie developed a district-wide program to identify and assess the agents of asthma in schools, and provide asthma education to students and families. She led indoor air quality assessments of schools and conducted asthma classes for district staff, parents and students to improve indoor air quality. She chaired the East Palo Alto Asthma Task Force and led the development of a strategic plan for addressing asthma in children. Bauer’s collaborative efforts with medical providers, government, community organizations, parents and funders have created healthier school environments for children in the district.
University of California at Davis, Department of Animal Science
California’s San Joaquin Valley has 3.5 million people, more than a million dairy cows, and some of the nation’s worst smog. While dairy products are the state’s most valuable agricultural commodity, dairies are the biggest contributor to the valley’s ozone problem. UC Davis’s Dr. Frank Mitloehner has worked to identify how dairies contribute to air pollution, and help dairy owners reduce emissions through practical control measures. He created an air quality curriculum for the state’s Dairy Quality Assurance Program and used it in 20 workshops attended by 800 California dairy operators – 60 percent of the total. He helped develop the EPA’s national consent agreement with the livestock industry on air emissions, and co-authored the EPA’s dairy air emission measurement protocol. His work has helped the dairy industry, government, and community and environmental groups work together to improve air quality.
Enrique Villegas of the Secretariat for Environmental Protection
State of Baja California, Mexico
Enrique Villegas of Baja California’s Secretariat for Environmental Protection has been an exceptional leader and partner in the Border 2012: U.S./Mexico Environmental Program. Enrique has leveraged resources to complete a number of projects with significant and measurable results, including cleanup of an abandoned (U.S.-owned) hazardous waste site in Tijuana, removal of 2,500 tons of hazardous waste, the removal of 1.8 million tires from two of the largest abandoned tire piles along the border, transfer and operation of the Baja California Air Quality Monitoring Network, and development of an unprecedented, real-time air quality website. As a leader in the California/Baja California regional workgroup, Villegas has kept Border 2012 task forces and projects focused on measurable results that have brought significant environmental improvements for California and Baja California residents.
Business, Industry, Trade and Professional Organizations
National Football League
As Program Director for the National Football League’s Environmental Program, Jack Groh has taken the environmental message to millions of people across the country. By working with sports fans, he has been slowly but surely converting many to the need and value of good stewardship. For years, Groh has worked to green the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl. It started with just recycling, but in recent years has expanded to include addressing the carbon footprint of these large sporting events. Through a combination of renewable energy purchases and tree planting, Groh has made the last two Super Bowls and this year’s Pro Bowl carbon neutral events. He always involves the local community in these project and has worked literally hand-in-hand with the Boys and Girls Clubs of many cities, and in particular has worked sorting recyclable materials at the past two Pro Bowls.
OK Produce, a full service wholesale company located in Fresno, Calif., has moved on many fronts to become more efficient and essentially “green.” With one of the largest solar power systems in California’s Central Valley, OK Produce has generated over one million kilowatt hours of energy and prevented 334 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere, the equivalent of planting 94 acres of forest. The company also has energy-saving “cool roofs,” light fixtures with motion sensors, hybrid cars for its sales representatives, and biodiesel tractor trailers. OK sends all of its plastic materials, cardboard, wood pallets, and paper to local recycling facilities and composts all damaged produce at a local green waste facility. To benefit the local community, OK has also planted 50 trees around downtown Fresno and donated to Tree Fresno, a local organization committed to promoting environmental stewardship.
The Boeing Company
The Boeing Company in Mesa, Ariz. maintains a robust pollution prevention program. For the last 5 years Boeing has implemented projects that resulted in significant air emissions reductions, including: reducing volatile organic compound emissions by 66 percent, a 93 percent reduction in hazardous air pollutants, and an 8,000 pound reduction of emissions by using pre-saturated solvent wipers. Although production increased at the facility, actual emissions decreased due to the implemented emission reduction initiatives. Boeing also introduced a “P2 Shop Floor Deep Dive” process -- an aggressive method of searching for pollution reduction opportunities in manufacturing areas. Boeing Mesa is also the first military site within Boeing to start a Design for the Environment Program by providing training and tools to engineers on-site. The successful result was the creation of a class, on-line tools, and life-cycle matrix analysis of environmental impacts.
PG&E, CleanAir Transport, and Quality Terminal Services
Port of Oakland Clean Vehicle Partnership
San Francisco, CA
The Port of Oakland Clean Vehicle Partnership, Pacific Gas and Electric, CleanAir Transport, and Quality Terminal Services have teamed up to reduce on-road diesel truck emissions from the country’s fourth busiest container port. By replacing aging diesel trucks with cleaner burning natural-gas vehicles, the partnership has effectively reduced the environmental and health impacts of the port on the West Oakland community. Natural gas trucks are up to two times cleaner than diesel trucks, and they emit zero diesel particulate matter, which is a carcinogen. Each of the eleven vehicles burns no petroleum, saving about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.
Ricoh Electronics, Inc.
Orange County, Calif-based Ricoh Electronics, Inc., is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of office automation equipment, thermal media and imaging materials. Last year, the company achieved the goal of zero waste to landfill, or 100 percent resource recovery. In doing that, Ricoh reduced solid waste by 2,514 tons, saving the company $1.7 million. Ricoh’s 1,219 employees are partners in the company’s environmental efforts. Each year, Ricoh gives Environmental Excellence Awards for employees’ ideas that reduce environmental impacts and costs. Examples from 2006 include, replacing disposable silicon mixing and testing cups with reusable beakers, installing new boiler controls to conserve energy that saved $17,000 a year, and converting more than 2,000 tons of paper waste to specialized mulch. In addition, Ricoh staff are spreading the techniques of becoming a zero waste business to their suppliers.
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