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EPA Awards 12 Environmental Merit Awards to Massachusetts Organizations and Individuals

Release Date: 04/22/2014
Contact Information: EPA New England Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

Today, the U.S. EPA recognized twelve organizations and individuals in Massachusetts at the 2014 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony. The Massachusetts awardees were among 26 recipients across New England honored for contributing to improving New England’s environment.

Each year EPA’s New England office recognizes individuals and groups whose work has protected or improved the region’s environment in distinct ways. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.

“We extend our congratulations and gratitude to this year’s Environmental Merit Award winners, who are helping to ensure a cleaner environment and healthier communities here in New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “In addition to iconic natural beauty and vibrant communities, New England is fortunate to have citizens who care deeply about the environment we share.”

The 2014 Environmental Merit Awards program was dedicated to Ira Leighton, former deputy regional administrator for EPA New England’s office who died in 2013 after 41 years of service to EPA.

“Ira truly loved the Environmental Merit Award ceremonies and deeply appreciated the environmental stewardship and commitment of citizens across New England,” said Spalding.

A new award was given out for the first time this year named for Leighton, who worked 41 years for EPA. The Ira Leighton "In Service to States" Environmental Merit Award was initiated by several environmental groups and EPA New England. The groups involved were the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association and the New England state Environmental Commissioners, along with EPA.

The Ira Leighton "In Service to States" Environmental Merit Award went to Ken Kimmell, who worked at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection from 2011 to March 2014 and before as General Counsel at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs from 2007 through 2011. Kimmell demonstrated a stellar record protecting the environment, proactively addressing climate change, promoting sustainability and innovation, and advancing clean energy technology at the state, regional, and local levels.

Ken’s dedication and record are evident in several high profile issues locally and at the national level. Ken’s efforts and accomplishments include work on air quality and greenhouse gasses, compliance/enforcement, access to quality data, as well as work on solid waste, recycling, organics and water management. Ken was a leader in the planning and implementation of the Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System (EIPAS). Ken was a charter member of the EELC (E-Enterprise Leadership Council) for the EPA/ECOS E-Enterprise Initiative, where he worked with Ira. He made significant strides in improving the management of solid waste in Massachusetts culminating in the issuance of the updated Solid Waste Master Plan in 2013. In New Bedford, MA Ken championed an approach to state involvement in the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site that led to multiple environmental and economic benefits. On Cape Cod Ken worked with EPA on innovative approaches to assuring compliance at commercial and industrial facilities.

Ken was a steadfast admirer of Ira, and saw in him the quintessential public servant and selfless champion for the mission of the EPA. He saw, and learned from Ira, the importance of collaboration, especially between state and federal partners, the critical role of stakeholder engagement, and how leadership can drive innovative and creative problem-solving. In each of these efforts, he has actively promoted partnerships with EPA and other states.

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 Rhode Island listed by category are:

Lifetime Achievement

Bob Valair
Staples Inc., Framingham, Mass.

Bob Valair had a vision to create the Staples Energy Program. Finding a new idea is rare in large companies; successfully executing them is what really separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. Valair has delivered results that have driven substantial benefits for Staples and his industry. Valair led the pursuit of Staples as an Energy Star 500 Partner of the Year three times, and consistently has beaten his energy budget through significant reductions in energy use. Valair’s presence on the EEI National Accounts advisory board, and his willingness to constantly coach his peers and suppliers shows his readiness to not only drive results for Staples, but also to further energy management across the industry. Valair continues to push Staples to great accomplishments, with the bar set even higher with a goal of 100 Energy Star facilities by 2016, and 25 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2020.

Bud Ris
New England Aquarium, Boston, Mass.

Bud Ris has achieved tremendous respect for environmental stewardship and passion over his lifelong career in the field. He has been focused on environmental science and policy issues for years. From 1984-2003 he served as chief executive officer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, working to achieve practical solutions to environmental and national security problems. More recently, Bud has been focused on the great challenge of our time, Climate Change. From 1996 to 2003, Mr. Ris chaired a coalition of sixteen national environmental organizations founded to support international and domestic action on climate change. In 1997, he led the delegation of US NGO’s to the international negotiations that culminated in the Kyoto Protocol. From 2004 to 2005, Mr. Ris was a Senior Fellow at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, where he led the Forum’s G-8 program on climate change for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Today, at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Bud Ris serves as President and CEO. He leads its pioneering programs on marine conservation extend from the Gulf of Maine to the Pacific Ocean, where it recently collaborated in the creation of one of the world’s largest marine protected areas.

Mr. Ris serves on the City of Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission and co-chairs the City’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness. He was a member of the Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee convened by Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. He currently serves on the boards of: A Better City, The Boston Harbor Association, the Sea Education Association, and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area Trust.


Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA)
Bob Zimmerman, Margaret Van Deusen, Kate Bowditch
Weston, Mass

Day in and day out EPA-New England has no better ally and the Charles River has no greater friend than the Charles River Watershed Association. Building on the extraordinary spirit and energy that Rita Barron brought to the organization, Bob Zimmerman, Kate Bowditch and Margaret Van Deusen have brought their own brand of leadership to CRWA with it strong science, robust civic engagement, and unprecedented innovation and entrepreneurism. They have built one of, if not the most effective watershed protection organizations in the world, and we are all the better for it.

Once a cesspool, today the Charles is America’s cleanest urban river and CRWA’s contribution to achieving that goal - a goal that 15 years ago few thought possible - is immeasurable. With appreciation for all that they have contributed to date and with high hopes for their work in the years ahead EPA is honored to award the Charles River Watershed Association with its Environmental Merit Award.

The Neighborhood Developers
Chelsea, Mass

Ten years ago the Box District in Chelsea, MA, was declared a “slum and blight” area by the federal government. Vacant and underused industrial land sat as an eyesore next to a dense residential neighborhood five minutes from Chelsea’s downtown. The Box District is a new neighborhood today with 150 new homes, a park complex and $70 million invested. The non-profit Neighborhood Developers Inc. has led the transformation, in partnership with neighbors, the city and a for- profit developer. The master plan for the district called for public transportation, open space, healthy housing and restoring old properties. It also called for market rate and accessible housing for the mentally or physically disabled. With the district nearly finished, the Neighborhood Developers Inc. has realized its goals. The entire neighborhood, including affordable housing developments, is pursuing LEED certification. The collaboration between private, public and non-profit groups brought in capital that was critical in completing this project.

New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, Lowell, Mass.
Clair Ryan and Mike Jennings

Clair Ryan and Mike Jennings of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission did the research, lobbying, education and leg work to create guidelines to reduce harmful phosphorus and nitrogen runoff to New England’s waterways. They wrote the final detailed guidance document for the public and professionals, and skillfully navigated a myriad of conflicting comments to create the document. In addition to hosting public meetings in three states, the duo held numerous work meetings and calls, including meeting with fertilizer manufacturers. The final product, the Regional Clean Water Guidelines for Fertilizations of Urban Turf, is one that is not only pragmatic, but also sound environmental policy. This effort by Ryan and Jennings will reduce nutrients in fertilizer supplies coming into the region and ultimately will improve water quality.

Natural Resources Trust of Easton Education Department
Easton, Mass

The education staff of the Natural Resources Trust of Easton, consisting of teachers Leslie Whitty, Kristen Bousquet, and Amanda Bettle, is dedicated to finding ways to get today’s children outside and into the natural world. By using the 154-acre Sheep Pasture of the trust as a living laboratory, they have taught students about flora, fauna and local natural resources. In this way, they have inspired over 4,500 future environmentalists through educational programs, outreach and community events in Easton and surrounding communities. The collaboration between Easton public schools and the trust’s education department is tremendously beneficial to students. For more than 40 years elementary students have come to the Sheep Pasture every year for programs that complement the in-school curricula. Whitty, Bousquet and Bettle are highly trained, motivated and dedicated environmental advocates who see environmental education as a way to inspire future leaders.

Southcoast Energy Challenge
New Bedford, Mass.

The Southcoast Energy Challenge is a program that helps homeowners understand how they both use and waste energy. Through its website, the challenge provides educational tools to help people assess their own behaviors as well as their carbon footprint. The main focus is to get individuals to do home energy audits that provide direct feedback on specific needs for that home, and identify state program that could help the homeowner. It also gives them a chance to learn if their home is suitable for solar power. The program has reached nearly 9,000 homes in the Southcoast area of Massachusetts and is providing jobs to students and interns, as well as to home energy assessment, insulating and weather-sealing companies. By reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses the region emits, the Southcoast Energy Challenge is helping reduce New England’s contribution to carbon emission and air pollution.


Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project
Northborough, Mass.

Since the end of 2009, Tim Deschamps and Tim McGlinchy at the Mosquito Control Project have shown its 41 members communities the benefits of getting rid of old tires. Other communities statewide have taken note and begun their own programs. The control project picks up and delivers to recycling facilities used tires, which provide the ideal habitat for mosquito breeding. One tire can produce thousands of mosquitoes in a year. Removing tires eliminates the need for the Mosquito Control Project to inspect the tires or apply pesticides. The program involves cleaning the large waste tire dumping sites, removing tires from curbsides, removing waste tires left on the side of the road and coordinating with the community at events such as river cleanups and hazardous waste days. This program is a member of EPA’s WasteWise Program. Through this project, the organization has recycled 11,500 tires, which saved 192 staff hours in monitoring larval habitats, and resulted in usage of 720 pounds less of pesticides.

Business/Industry/Trade or Professional

Boyle Transportation
SmartWay Motor Carrier, Billerica, Mass.

Boyle Transportation, a national trucking company specializing in cargo for military and life science customers, has shown its dedication to sustainability. Its tractors are all set to automatically stop idling after five minutes and all can heat and cool the cab without idling. The tractors, which are certified by EPA for their efficiency, also all use ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. They are equipped with low resistance tires and lubricated in a way that wastes less in the shop. Two thirds of the company’s engines only need oil changes every 50,000 miles instead of every 30,000, meaning less oil is used. The manager of the fleet uses software that keeps track of idling, fuel economy, speeding and braking data each month and shares information with drivers. All drivers are taught to drive for fuel economy, and fuel economy and idling performance play into incentive compensation. Boyle Transportation is committed to sustainability and continues to make investments to support that commitment.

FRX Polymers Inc., Chelmsford, Mass.
Marc Lebel, Jan-Pleun Lens

FRX Polymers Inc. was the first company to develop polymers free of toxic halogens, creating a new flame retardant plastic. Founded in 2007, this green plastics company has won several innovation awards. In the last three years the company has made great progress towards becoming a global supplier of its unique flame retardant solution for a wide range of plastics. Its product replaces halogenated flame retardants, which are widely used and toxic. In making these new innovative materials based on green chemistry principles, no solvents are used and a minimum amount of waste is produced. FRX Polymers has been active in the New England Green Chemistry Initiative. Its products have been recognized by more than 250 global customers for the innovative and eco-friendly flame retarding solution. FRX Polymers is an example of how an innovative Massachusetts-based company can provide green jobs, improve health and protect the environment, while prospering.

Procter & Gamble, Gillette Boston site
South Boston, Mass.

As part of its sustainability goals for 2020 and its long term sustainability vision, the Procter & Gamble, Gillette Boston site works to reduce water, waste, energy and Co2 emissions. To do this, the South Boston site has a sustainability leader, three sustainability teams and two global business unit teams looking at strategy and production equipment. The company has invested in a metering system in South Boston and completed five energy audits since 2009. In 2011 P&G Gillette Boston entered into an energy reduction partnership with its power company, outlining a three-year energy reduction goal and project plan, including 20 potential projects. Gillette was the first industrial customer to create this type of partnership with the electricity provider, and for the last two years has met or exceeded its energy reduction goal. Over the last three years P&G Gillette in South Boston has finished more than 65 projects that successfully reduced energy use, water consumption or waste. The effort has saved an estimated 20 million kwh a year in energy efficiency projects and an estimated 8 million gallons of water a year. The company has a recycling rate at 89 percent, which includes composting three to four tons of organic waste a year.

In addition to the Environmental Merits, EPA New England recognized eight Federal Green Challenge award winners, six of them in Massachusetts. The Federal Green Challenge is a national EPA initiative that challenges federal agencies to set goals and report on their achievements in the areas of waste, energy, transportation, purchasing, electronics management, and water conservation. Massachusetts winners were:

Federal Green Challenge Award Recipients:

Regional Award Recipient: Electronics Management
104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard
Westfield, Mass.

The 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard achieved a 98% increase in the amount of electronics recycled on Base, recycling a total of 1.17 tons of electronics in 2013. The success of the e-waste recycling program was based on facility- wide awareness (supported by Base-wide emails, posters, and articles in the monthly newsletter), an expansion of accepted items (from computer items and keyboards to copiers, printers, and fax machines), and a central recycling location that stayed open five days a week.

Regional Award Recipient: Fuel Oil Reduction
Hanscom Air Force Base
Bedford, Mass.

Hanscom Air Force Base reduced the use of fuel oil by 61% in 2013, a reduction of 397,541 gallons of oil. The majority of the savings was achieved by switching three of four boilers to cleaner-burning natural gas. Other actions that helped the system achieve optimal operational efficiency included repairs to the distribution system and improved boiler controls. Taken together, Hanscom’s conversion to natural gas and efficiency measures resulted in a net reduction of 1,225 metric tons of the greenhouse gas carbon-dioxide.

Regional Award Recipient: Environmental Innovation
Winchester Engineering and Analytical Center (Food and Drug Administration)
Winchester, Mass.

The Winchester Engineering and Analytical Center achieved a 30% reduction in energy use in 2013 (a decrease of over 376,000 kWhs) by employing an innovative set of practices used to update a laboratory built in the 1950s. The efforts included an analysis of room and equipment-use data and the installation of energy efficient equipment, including the HVAC system. A Green Team education campaign also encouraged employees to turn off laboratory equipment and shut down computers, monitors, and printers at the end of the day. And

Regional Award Recipient: Water Conservation
VA Boston Healthcare System
Brockton, Jamaica Plain, and West Roxbury, Mass.

The VA Boston Healthcare System achieved a 7.8% reduction in water consumption from 2012 to 2013, with a net water savings of 7.6 million gallons. The results were the culmination of several construction related activities across the System’s three campuses. Completed projects included boiler plant upgrades that reduced fuel consumption and reduced make-up water requirements, a water distribution upgrade that addressed leaks from pipes and plumbing fixtures, and controls on cooling towers that eliminated unnecessary evaporation of water.

Regional Award Recipient: Environmental Leadership
VA New England Healthcare System
Bedford, Mass.

VA New England Health Care System (VISN) demonstrated leadership in 2013 by promoting and measuring improved environmental performance and fostering a culture of continual improvement at the eleven healthcare facilities that it oversees in New England. This was accomplished by instituting a strategic plan for the VA New England Health Care System that elevated the profile of environmental goals and engaged executive management. Efforts were also made to improve the capabilities of Regional VA Centers by rolling out software to track waste, providing training, collecting data, upgrading vendor contracts. The significant waste streams amounts recycled for FY 2013 included: 547 tons of cardboard, 220 tons of comingled glass, plastic and paper, 124 tons of landscaping materials, 365 tons of metals, greater than 850 tons of paper, 402 tons of wood, 4.3 tons of reusable biomedical waste containers, 8 tons of batteries, 182 tons of waste oil, 3.5 tons of printer cartridges, and 4,685 tons of construction and demolition debris that was beneficially reused or recycled.

Regional Award Recipient: Lifetime Achievement
Donald Morris, Hanscom Air Force Base
Bedford, Mass.

Donald Morris, former Environmental Manager of Hanscom Air Force Base, managed environmental issues for an extremely complex Air Force facility, which included a national Superfund site, a major MIT Research and Development Lab, a public/private housing partnership, a partially owned State airport, and the constant threat of Base Realignment and Closure. Through the years, he has been a professional, reliable, and effective partner with EPA, whether during a compliance assistance effort or an EPA multi-media inspection. He consistently volunteered for EPA initiatives, from the Environmental Management Reviews, to mercury case studies, to the Federal Green Challenge initiative, and numerous EPA Federal Facility workshops.