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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

2011/2012 Environmental Award Winners

The 2012 awardees were honored at individual presentations and group award ceremonies at various locations in the Pacific Southwest region.

  • Children’s Environmental Health: Dr. Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD of Roseville, Calif., a member of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), is a practicing obstetrician who has advanced children’s environmental health by promoting better prenatal and preconception care. While prenatal environmental exposures have been recognized as a key risk factor for infancy and childhood health problems, there was little focus on pregnancy as an opportunity for prevention. Over the past three years, Dr. Conry has made reproductive environmental health a key new emphasis for the obstetrics community, and has helped make environmental chemicals a priority for ACOG.
  • Clean Technology: Mark Ritchie and Kuehnle AgroSystems, Inc. Exiting EPA (disclaimer) in Honolulu are at the forefront of biofuels research and development. While some biofuels that replace oil need large tracts of farmland to grow crops, Kuehnle uses algae to produce a high-density, efficient biofuel at an oil refinery. Kuenhnle’s system produces algae by piping CO2 and wastewater from Chevron’s Hawaii refinery into tanks to accelerate algae growth. Use of the resulting biofuel reduces the refinery’s greenhouse gas emissions. In November 2011, the project achieved the first successful interconnection of industrial CO2 from an oil refinery with a working algae production site.
  • Climate Change Champion: Grid Alternatives of Oakland, Calif. Exiting EPA (disclaimer) provides renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment and training to low-income communities. It developed a solar affordable housing program that has trained more than 8,000 community volunteers and job trainees who have installed more than 2,000 photovoltaic solar power systems. This has created jobs, skills, and income for the communities, as well as environmental benefits. Through solar power and energy efficiency upgrades to homes, Grid Alternatives has prevented 180,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Educational Leadership: The Guam Environmental Education Committee has transformed environmental education and outreach on Guam. Since its inception in 2004 the committee – composed of local and federal agencies, nonprofits, teachers, students, and the private sector – has organized more than a dozen outreach events each year, reaching thousands of island residents. The committee organizes annual island-wide Earth Day activities, which in 2012 expanded to a full month of events. The group also holds regular free, public events such as snorkeling tours and litter cleanups, organizes speakers for classrooms, and produces outreach materials.
  • Efficient Water Infrastructure: The Water, Energy, and Technology (WET) Center at Fresno State University Exiting EPA (disclaimer) is home to the Claude Laval Water and Energy Technology Incubator and testing facilities of the International Center for Water Technology (ICWT). These organizations provide an entryway for entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesses to accelerate and commercialize their products within the San Joaquin Valley. The WET Center functions as an R&D lab for water technology researchers, and a third-party testing facility for new products. New water tech companies can use the WET Center’s state-of-the-art hydraulic lab, and consult its faculty and staff as advisors.
  • Environmental Justice Champion: Neelam Sharma, executive director of Community Services Unlimited (CSU), Exiting EPA (disclaimer) is deeply committed to building youth leadership in environmental justice communities to work for health, sustainability and the environment. She developed CSU’s food justice education and training programs, and her extensive knowledge and experience in urban agriculture and small-scale food production enabled her to develop CSU’s three urban farms in South Central Los Angeles. She has successfully managed and grown CSU’s budget over the last 10 years, taking it from a volunteer organization to five staff and an annual budget of $230,000.
  • Green Business of the Year: The Frito-Lay Casa Grande Plant Exiting EPA (disclaimer) in Casa Grande, Ariz., launched an ambitious sustainability project that took it "off the grid," supplied primarily by renewable energy sources including solar power and a biomass boiler. The facility has reduced its use of outside electric power by 90%, its natural gas usage by 80%, and its total greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. The Casa Grande Plant now recycles 75% of its water and produces zero landfill waste.
  • Green Chemistry: KORE Infrastructure, LLC has operated a pilot project at a major wastewater treatment facility in Southern California for the past four years that uses a thermo-chemical process to convert biosolids into market-ready, drop-in, No. 2 diesel fuel. This process uses pyrolysis to reduce biosolids by 90% and then utilizes the Fischer-Tropsch process to transform syngas into advanced biofuels without the use of outside energy. The KORE Infrastructure technology will lower the GHG profile of the wastewater utility by reducing truck traffic for biosolids disposal and offer other sustainable economic, environmental and community benefits.
  • Green Government: Arizona State University’s Sustainable Cities Network Exiting EPA (disclaimer), part of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) in Tempe, is a collaborative program that serves as a bridge between ASU and the sustainability challenges facing communities. Since 2008, the voluntary network has linked local and tribal sustainability practitioners from more than 25 jurisdictions and Maricopa County. The network engages with communities to streamline green city operations, advance solar and renewable energy, mitigate urban heat island effects, design sustainable neighborhoods, and deal with water supply challenges. As one of the nation’s first university/community-based sustainability outreach programs, it can be replicated elsewhere.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Champion: Organic walnut farmer Russ Lester of Dixon Ridge Farms Exiting EPA (disclaimer) in Winters, Calif., pioneered a whole-systems approach to sustainable farming, addressing the long-term benefit of the business, the community, and the environment. Its biogas-powered generator is fueled by walnut shells, reducing the need for propane and electricity from outside sources. It has 3,500 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels, with a planned 100,000 square-foot expansion. From renewable energy to water conservation and reduced packaging, Dixon Ridge Farms is an outstanding model for sustainable agriculture.
  • Tribal Environmental Protection: The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley in northeast Nevada have taken a leadership role in protecting their environment. They partnered with EPA in selecting a Superfund cleanup for the nearby Rio Tinto Mine site. As a result, contaminated mine tailings will be removed from Mill Creek, which will be restored to support redband trout. They developed an economically self-sustaining Solid Waste Management Program, and are closing open dumps. Through tribal ordinances, they regulate fuel storage tanks. They have allied with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to continue to work on local environmental issues.
  • Zero Waste Advocate: Adobe Systems Inc., Exiting EPA (disclaimer) through collaboration with Cushman & Wakefield, the City of San Jose, Republic Services, GCA, and Adobe employees, developed a world-class waste management program that diverts an astonishing 100% of total solid waste from its headquarters facility. This model has been replicated by many other Silicon Valley companies. Adobe’s three high-rise buildings in downtown San Jose have about 2,500 employees and nearly a million square feet of office space, including a cafeteria and restaurant.

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