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State of New Jersey

NJDEP Stewardship Recognition Program for regulated sites

New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust Logo

New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology New Jersey State League of Municipalities

2016 Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards! The awards ceremony and luncheon were held on Wednesday afternoon, December 7, at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. Descriptions and photos for each of our winners are below. Special thanks to our sponsors, the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust and the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology, and our partner, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, one or more of the following areas and activities:

  • Reducing air pollution emissions and/or reducing outdoor exposure to toxic air contaminants;
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions or equivalents through energy efficiency projects or green power purchases; and
  • Reducing air deposition loading to land and water.
Dr. Brian Brotschul, Superintendent, Delran Township School District, Dr. Chris Russo, Business Administrator, Delran Township School District, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

Winner: Delran Township School District

This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, one or more of the following areas and activities:

  • Reducing air pollution emissions and/or reducing outdoor exposure to toxic air contaminants;

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions or equivalents through energy effciency projects or green power purchases; and

  • Reducing air deposition loading to land and water.


  • In January 2015, the Delran Township School District began exploring the development and implementation of an Energy Savings Improvement Plan as a way to reduce energy use, increase sustainability and save money. The District chose an Energy Services Company, developed a district-wide plan and began construction this past July. The project will result in better interior and exterior lighting systems, improve temperature control by upgrading building management systems, add air conditioning at some locations, and install new roofs at two schools. Work is expected to be completed in August 2017. The results are anticipated to reduce energy costs by 32%, cut emissions in half, produce 80% of the district’s electric needs through on-site solar, and save taxpayers $5.6 million over the next 15 years that can be used to fund other educational needs throughout the district.

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a positive influence in one or more of the following areas and activities:

    • Improving surface or ground water quality;
    • Ensuring sufficient quantities of water through reuse and conservation techniques; and
    • Promotion or development of progressive land use policies and watershed management approaches to improve protection of surface and groundwater sources.
    Brittany Musolino, River-Friendly Coordinator, Stoney Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Heather Desko, Watershed Protection Specialist, NJ Water Supply Authority, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Winner: River Friendly Programs of the Raritan Basin

    Winner: River-Friendly Programs of the Raritan Basin This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a positive influence in one or more of the following areas and activities:

  • Improving surface or ground water quality;

  • Ensuring sufficient quantities of water through reuse and conservation techniques; and

  • Promoting or developing progressive land use policies and watershed management approaches to improve the protection of surface and groundwater resources.


  • The River-Friendly Programs of the Raritan Basin works one-on-one with residents, businesses, schools and golf courses to improve land stewardship practices and complete several challenges in order to be certified River-Friendly. The program, a joint initiative of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Raritan Headwaters Association and New Jersey Water Supply Authority, aims to help program participants be more mindful of their affect on water and land by following four key principles that address water resource challenges in the 1,100-square-mile Raritan Basin: reduce pollution, conserve water, restore habitat for wildlife and educate the public about becoming better environmental stewards. To date, the program has worked with hundreds of residents to become River-Friendly, and is currently working with 13 schools, 16 businesses and seven golf courses to achieve the designation.

    Jane Kenny, Co-chair of Jersey Water Works and Managing Partner, Whitman Strategy Group, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Winner: Jersey Water Works

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a positive influence in one or more of the following areas and activities:

  • Improving surface or ground water quality;

  • Ensuring sufficient quantities of water through reuse and conservation techniques; and

  • Promoting or developing progressive land use policies and watershed management approaches to improve the protection of surface and groundwater resources.


  • This one-year-old collaborative among representatives from the public and private sectors, public utilities, the environmental community and regulatory agencies is the first of its kind in the nation to consider possible solutions to the complex and costly problems associated with aging and ine.cient water infrastructure statewide. One of the biggest water challenges in New Jersey – and a key issue for the collaborative – is combined sewer overflow (CSO) systems, which discharge raw sewage into waterways after significant weather events, and sometimes lead to sewage backups in homes, streets and parks. The collaborative targets cost-efficient solutions that would result in clean water and waterways, flood and climate resiliency, and economic growth that create both local jobs as well as healthier and safer neighborhoods. In its short tenure, the collaborative has received support from the New Jersey League of Municipalities, produced reports identifying best practices nationwide, established a peer-to-peer network for communities with CSO systems, and identified new ways of doing business that can improve addressing CSOs and incorporating green infrastructure practices.

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates experience in programs or techniques that have resulted in the restoration, protection and enhancement of the State’s ecological resources. These resources include wetlands, estuaries and coastal areas, as well as non-game and/or threatened and endangered species.
    Dr. Peter Straub, Dean of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics, Stockton University, Dr. George Zimmermann, Professor of Environmental Studies, Stockton University, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Winner: George Zimmermann, Ph.D.

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates experience in programs or techniques that have resulted in the restoration, protection and enhancement of the State’s ecological resources. These resources include wetlands, estuaries and coastal areas, as well as non-game and/or threatened and endangered species.

    Dr. Zimmermann, a professor of Environmental Studies at Stockton University in Galloway Township, Atlantic County, was the lead campus proponent for the school’s Forest Management Plan, which the Pinelands Commission approved in 2013 – making it the first comprehensive forest management plan for public land within the ecologically sensitive Pinelands region. That plan stands as a state model for management of forestland. It uses the latest forest management techniques and best management practices centered on large-scale public use of the land, which is tantamount to having a university in a forest. In addition to serving as a blueprint for how best to use the Stockton forests, Dr. Zimmermann’s plan is a working document to transform the forests into a laboratory and demonstration site to develop and implement sound, sustainable forestry practices in the Pinelands region, as well as providing guidance for other public entities to manage their forestry resources responsibly.

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates the use or deployment of a new or alternative method, procedure, process, system or facility, which results in greater environmental protection than other technologies in current practice or comparable results at lower costs in terms of energy, natural resources or environmental impacts.
    NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and CEO, AeroFarms, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Winner: AeroFarms

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates the use or deployment of a new or alternative method, procedure, process, system or facility, which results in greater environmental protection than other technologies in current practice or comparable results at lower costs in terms of energy, natural resources or environmental impacts.

    By using an interdisciplinary approach to address food insecurity and pollution issues, AeroFarms has taken urban agriculture to new heights with large scale, indoor vertical farming techniques. The company’s combination of in-house designed LED lighting technology and secret growing algorithms in a chemical-free and pest-free environment greatly speeds up crop production to communities and partners in need of nutritious, non-GMO leafy greens. These techniques allow Newark-based AeroFarms to optimize plants for taste, texture, color and nutritional density by using sensors to record data points through every minute of a plant’s growing cycle. As a result, AeroFarms uses significantly less water and fertilizer than traditional agricultural producers, and is not reliant on weather condition for successful production and harvest. In the past four years, AeroFarms has created eight working vertical farms and is developing models to replicate additional farms in communities that lack supermarkets, resulting in job creation, availability of fresh produce, and furthering economic revitalization in communities that need it.

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, the preservation of open space that protects land from future development.
    Rob Pollock, Senior Director, Environmental Projects and Permitting, PSEG, Russell Furnari, Manager, Environmental Policy Enterprises, PSEG, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Winner: New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, the preservation of open space that protects land from future development.

    This innovative public-private partnership among corporations, federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and academia, works to develop and implement projects to protect and improve New Jersey’s coastlines, freshwater wetlands and aquatic habitats. Since 2005, the partnership has funded 29 projects across the state, which led to the preservation of more than 520 acres and 17 stream miles. Additionally, more than $700,000 in contributions and in-kind services from the initiative’s partners has resulted in projects totaling more than $8.5 million. Projects to date include habitat and wetlands restoration, reforestation, dam removals, species protection, education and outreach, and cultural and historic projects. Additional projects are under way, the most recent of which aims to restore the resiliency and functionality of a degraded section of the Wallkill River, involving 200 students to help with tree planting and protection along the river in Sparta Township, Sussex County. This particular effort exemplifies the collaborative approach used in all partnership projects.

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, any of the following activities:
    • An activity that addresses pollution/waste reduction, recycling, land use, local purchasing, sustainability, resource conservation or product stewardship;
    • Innovative practices or technologies that have resulted in the private or public sector cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated/brownfields sites; and
    • Creation of community-based initiatives that foster involvement, action and effective solutions to the adverse effects of industrial pollution in overburdened and low-income communities.
    NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, Rachel Weisslitz, National Sustainabilty Manager, SBM Management Services, Stephan Rupprecht, Environmental Heath & Safety Lead, Merck, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Winner: Merck & Co., Inc.

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, any of the following activities:

  • An activity that addresses pollution/waste reduction, recycling, land use, local purchasing, sustainability, resource conservation or product stewardship;
  • Innovative practices or technologies that have resulted in the private or public sector clean up and redevelopment of contaminated/brownfields sites; and
  • Creation of community-based initiatives that foster involvement, action and effective solutions to the adverse effects of industrial pollution in overburdened and low-income communities.

    Merck re-engineered the efficiency of its food waste collection program at three of its Central New Jersey campuses after an out-of-state facility that has been accepting Merck’s food waste closed. As a result of its commitment to reduce operational waste and increase recycling at Merck’s locations in Whitehouse Station, Lebanon and Branchburg, the pharmaceutical giant achieved and surpassed a 2014 corporate recycling goal two years ahead of schedule. Merck accomplished its goals early by developing food waste composting programs, centralizing trash, standardizing containers and labeling at all trash and recycling stations, educating employees about the importance of recycling through signage and internal communications, and implementing measures to keep trash from going to landfills. The result was 1,594 tons of nonhazardous materials recycled, equaling a 48 percent recycling rate; 989 tons sent for waste-to-energy recovery, amounting to a waste diversion rate of 78 percent; and nearly 70 tons of compost diverted from trash, saving the company $334,000.

  • This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, any of the following activities:
    • An activity that addresses pollution/waste reduction, recycling, land use, local purchasing, sustainability, resource conservation or product stewardship;
    • Innovative practices or technologies that have resulted in the private or public sector cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated/brownfields sites; and
    • Creation of community-based initiatives that foster involvement, action and effective solutions to the adverse effects of industrial pollution in overburdened and low-income communities.
    NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, Jackie Park Albaum, Farm and Garden Director, Groundwork Elizabeth, Jonathan Phillips, Executive Director, Groundwork Elizabeth, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.
    Winner: Groundwork Elizabeth

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates a commitment to, and experience in, any of the following activities:

  • An activity that addresses pollution/waste reduction, recycling, land use, local purchasing, sustainability, resource conservation or product stewardship;

  • Innovative practices or technologies that have resulted in the private or public sector clean up and redevelopment of contaminated/brownfields sites; and

  • Creation of community-based initiatives that foster involvement, action and effective solutions to the adverse e.ects of industrial pollution in overburdened and low-income communities.


  • In 2009, Groundwork Elizabeth developed the Come Grow With Us! Community Farm and Garden Initiative to improve access to sustainably grown local produce for urban communities bordering Kean University in Union Township, Union County. The program now helps to .ll a void in a county that has almost no commercial agriculture, and works because of its ability to build support for locally grown agriculture in an environmentally friendly way, with an aim to improve community health and welfare. As part of its efforts, Groundwork Elizabeth manages the 10-acre Liberty Hall Farm at Kean and builds upon a growing network of partner gardens to fulfill its mission of helping at-risk communities in Union County receive healthy, locally grown, nutritious produce in order to combat poor nutritional habits, lack of nutritional education, and reduce obesity rates. In 2015, more than 3,000 pounds of produce was harvested at Liberty Hall Farm. In 2015-2016, the initiative partnered with 37 community gardens and one farm, provided more than 10,000 organically grown seedlings to support the network, and distributed more than 7,500 bottles of donated organic fertilizer in Union County.

    Nominees in these two categories should demonstrate implementation of a program or project that has measurable positive impacts in environmental protection and education. One award will be given to an adult educator and one will be given to students/youth in grades K-12 (student involvement must be emphasized).
    NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, John Lagrosa, Executive Director, NJ Water Environment Association, Joseph Bonaccorso, Continuing Education Manager, NJ Water Environment Association, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Winner: New Jersey Water Environment Association

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates implementation of a program or project that has measurable positive impacts in environmental protection and education. One award will be given to an adult educator(s).

    When it comes to disseminating information about wastewater treatment, or educating environmental professionals about new technologies in the .eld and providing continuing education, other states look to New Jersey as the model. That reputation has been earned through the diligent e.orts of the New Jersey Water Environment Association, a 100-year-old collaborative that annually provides thousands of hours of environmental education and thousands of dollars in scholarships to nurture the field’s future environmental advocates. New Jersey’s program is known for its diversity of courses of study, quality control, and proper training documentation to meet the rigorous requirements of oversite organizations. In the past year, the association provided approximately 50,000 training hours to the environmental community. Association members routinely volunteer to work with DEP on a variety of policy matters, and offer expertise to groups and programs outside New Jersey. Additionally, the association promotes environmental education at the middle and high school levels, as well as at the college level, to grow, develop and mentor the next generation of environmental advocates.

    Dr. Janet Elder, Principal, Public School 28, Jersey City Public Schools, Karen Ayoub, 8th Grade Student, Traposquitos Team at P.S. 28, and NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

    Winner: Public School 28, Jersey City/Project Reservoir

    This award is presented to a nominee that demonstrates implementation of a program or project that has measurable positive impacts in environmental protection and education. One award will be given to students/youth in grades K-12 (student involvement must be emphasized).

    This environmental STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) afterschool program has earned recognition in multiple national environmental science competitions during the past year for several projects that developed state-of-the-art solutions to traditional environmental concerns. The program involves 150 students from eight Jersey City schools who are divided into STEM teams to learn more about the city’s water supply, plastics pollution, STEM-based physical activities in nature, threats to bee health in urban environments, storm water runoff. pollution and aquaponics gardening. Among the program’s projects are converting the school greenhouse into a vertical aquaponics garden, designing a solar pumping system at a local reservoir, and creating a bio-filtration system on an island in the reservoir to filter water and prevent algal blooms. In addition to that work, a team of 8th graders involved with the program has educated other students about microfiber pollution and designed technology to prevent it. Still another team is developing technology to use compost and solar power to trap mosquitos. Students and faculty of teams in grades 6-12 are planning to compete again nationally during the 2016-17 school year.

    NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, Paul Lief Rosengren, Director of PSEG Communications, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Certificate of Recognition: PSEG

    The utility in 2015 installed 30 Level 2 charging stations, bringing to 45 the number of stations installed statewide at PSEG facilities. The 2015 installation included 10 stations in a Newark parking garage, 10 stations at the company’s Training Center in Edison, and 10 stations at its Central Maintenance Facility in Edison. PSEG has also implemented an extensive educational campaign to promote the use of electric vehicles by employees and customers. There has been a feature story in a company magazine, two write-ups in a company blog about the benefits of electric vehicle use, and promotional material sent to employees about installation of charging stations at a hospital in New Brunswick, Middlesex County.

    NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, Gunther Karlowitsch, Crew Supervisor of Building Maintenance Program, TCNJ, Jack Fehn, Electronic Security Specialist, College of New Jersey, and NJEIT Executive Director David Zimmer.

    Certificate of Recognition: The College of New Jersey

    The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) has live Level 2 charging stations in its commuter student parking garage that have been operational for approximately one year, and are used by both commuting faculty and students. The installation resulted from a unique partnership between the Ewing school and PSEG -- TCNJ committed to using the charging stations for faculty and staff, and PSEG provided the electric vehicle charging equipment for free. TCNJ paid for the equipment installation and is responsible for ongoing maintenance and electricity costs. A ribbon-cutting event to highlight the partnership and promote the use of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations was held in July 2016. Installation of the stations received widespread media coverage, from the campus newspaper to network television news in Philadelphia.

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    Note: The winner descriptions are compiled from information provided by the award applicants and/or third-party nominators.

      

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    Last Updated: December 9, 2016