Six Maine businesses, including two in Greater Portland, have won Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence.
The seven-year old program is administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The awards were presented on Thursday by Gov. LePage and Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho in a ceremony at Jotul North America’s headquarters in Gorham.
Recipients were recognized for going beyond regulatory requirements to initiate innovations that are both environmentally and economically sustainable.
IDEXX of Westbrook: It won in the “Businesses Over 100 Employees” category for committing to considering sustainability in every business decision the company has made since 2008. The company’s operating costs per square foot are lower than five years ago. Factors include energy conservation, taking less than 6 percent of their waste to landfills and a campus gardening program that has grown hundreds of pounds of produce for local food pantries.
CLYNK of South Portland: It won in the “Businesses Over 50 Employees” category for efforts in effectively engaging thousands of Mainers in returning nearly 300 million containers since 2006. Earlier this year, the company released a new service that allows its account holders to track in real time the environmental benefits from the specific beverage containers they recycle at the nearly 50 partnering Hannaford supermarkets.
George R. Roberts Co. of Alfred: Known as “The Step Guys,” it won in the “Business Over 15 Employees” category. A leading manufacturer of precast concrete products, the company has one of the largest solar-electric arrays in the state, which now provides 90 percent of their power. To date, the 638 U.S. made panels have produced 244,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power 130,000 light bulbs each year and accounting for a 10,000 ton annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Maine Energy Systems of Bethel: It won in the “Business Under 15 Employees” category for helping Maine homes, public facilities and businesses –including Waterville High School and Mt. Abram Ski Resort – transition to a cleaner fuel, sustainability-harvested from Maine’s forests with the sales of their wood pellets and boilers. This conversion can lower fuel costs for users by about half, while helping to retain and create jobs in Maine’s vibrant forest products industry.
The Washington County Council of Governments: It won in the “Public Sector” category for its county-wide Brownfields program, which has helped restore environmental vitality to abandoned sites in a region greatly dependent on the health of its natural resources.
Through these coordinated efforts over the past three years, environmental assessments have been conducted at 11 sites and there has been redevelopment of five sites, including a former cannery now being used for regional storage by local lobstermen and a former boat building school being overhauled into a shop for construction of tidal power generation units. In total, redevelopment projects presently underway have the potential to create up to 50 new full-time jobs and increase property value by over $4 million.
The Environmental Living & Learning for Maine Students Project: This partnership between the Chewonki Outdoor Classroom for Schools, Ferry Beach Ecology School and the UMaine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond and at Tanglewood (in Lincolnville), won in the “Nonprofit” category.
Launched in 2011, the collaborative creates a financial aid fund that has already subsidized residential environmental education for nearly 2,000 Maine students. Through the fund, schools are able to apply for grants to send their students to any of the four partnering organizations for experiential environmental learning programs that last up to five days, with aid scaled from 25 to 95 percent based on the number of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program in the applicant school.
Recipients said being recognized by the state goes a long way.
“Being recognized by the state for this achievement is an honor for IDEXX, especially since IDEXX is headquartered in Maine, and most of our employees live in the surrounding communities,” said IDEXX Maine Operations Manager Matt Haas. “This award validates a lot of work from many, many dedicated people who prove everyday that sustainable business practices are achievable and essential. Sustainability is an on-going journey of continuous improvement, and this recognition validates that we are on the right path to environmental excellence.”
Maine DEP is continuing the annual recognition program, with nominations for the 2013 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence opening in late 2012. More information can be found at the
or by contacting Samantha DePoy-Warren at 207-287-5842 or [email protected]