The winners of the 2019 Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards were announced at a luncheon ceremony on Monday, December 9th at the New Jersey State Museum. The Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards are New Jersey's premier environmental awards. Since its establishment in 2000, the award program has recognized 188 winners.
The program honors outstanding environmental performance, programs and projects in the State. On behalf of Governor Murphy, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner, Catherine McCabe presented nine awards in eight categories. The Governor's Environmental Excellence Award Program is co-sponsored by the State of New Jersey, the DEP, the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank) and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology (NCAT). The New Jersey State League of Municipalities and DEP's Environmental Stewardship initiative provided promotional support.
Commissioner McCabe provided opening remarks congratulating the 2019 award winners and accentuating the strides the Governor and this State are making to improve the environment. "It is truly an honor to recognize these environmental leaders who are shining examples for all of us to follow," Commissioner McCabe said. "Their commitment and dedication provide proof that the spirit of environmentalism remains strong in New Jersey. We congratulate them on their outstanding achievements and thank them for helping to improve the health of our environment – and our quality of life."
The honorees included two businesses that adapted green practices to combat climate change and promote sustainability; two nonprofits with statewide reach that facilitate local environmental decisions and actions; two comprehensive projects that harness the collaboration of numerous partners and volunteers to protect natural resources; two efforts that engaged students in designing and caring for rain gardens and green infrastructure; and one company that specializes in water resources engineering and native plant horticulture, which they use to create rain gardens and other watershed projection projects.
One of the more interesting projects recognized was La Belle Vie Salon in Gloucester County. Since 2017, the Salon has partnered with Green Circle Salons, an environmental company devoted to helping salons become sustainable. In an effort to reduce its ecological footprint, La Belle Vie has captured and segregated all hair color rinse and has recycled or repurposed approximately 90% of the salon's waste, including hair recovered to help clean up oil spills. La Belle Vie Salon also utilizes equipment that reduces water and energy use by 65%.
The winner of the Student-led Environmental Education category, always one of the highlights of the luncheon,
recognized five students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. Known as the Green Ambassadors, these students acted swiftly when they discovered rainwater from their school was sending polluted runoff into the Raritan River. Ritika Thomas, Aneesh Nagalkar, Amogh Jupalli, Sujay Edavalapati and Pravar Jain worked with environmental experts from Rutgers University and the Raritan Headwaters Association, to design and build a rain garden. The students researched native plants, dug, mulched, weeded and filled the rain garden with low-maintenance plants. The rain garden will serve as a science class laboratory for soil, plant and pollutant testing. The team also launched a Green Infrastructure Club at school to educate others about the environment and water quality.
Commissioner McCabe also announced the recipients of the Richard J. Sullivan Award named after New Jersey's first DEP Commissioner and given to New Jersey residents who demonstrate exceptional leadership and outstanding accomplishments in environmental protection. This year the award honored former Governor Thomas H. Kean who was in office from January 1982 to January 1990, and former Governor James J. Florio, who served from January 1990 to January 1994. The Commissioner will formally present the awards to both Governors at the DEP's 50th Earth Day Ceremony in April, 2020.
The I-Bank is proud to be a part of this exciting and educational event. The Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards represent examples of the many positive programs in New Jersey, bringing the State and local communities together to develop creative ideas, innovative designs, partnerships and promote education and outreach from school children to industry leaders all focused on enhancing our environment.
Picture from left to right: Catherine McCabe, NJDEP Commissioner, Aneesh Nagalkar and Ritika Thomas accepting the student-led Environmental Education Award on behalf of the Green Ambassadors of Bridgewater-Raritan High School; David Zimmer, Executive Director of the I-Bank and Master of Ceremonies.
For more information, contact the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank at (609) 219-8600.
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