In 2015, the Erie County Environmental Management Council (EMC), an advisory board that collaborates with the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning on environmental issues, established the Erie County Environmental Management Council Environmental Excellence Awards Program to recognize environmentally-significant projects conducted by municipal and non-profit organizations. In previous years, the award winning projects (all in Erie County) have been spotlighted for their exemplary precedents, in hopes that they can help to create best-practice guidelines for others to follow and build upon.
The 2020 Environmental Excellence Award recipients are:
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County – Master Gardener Volunteer Program
The CCE Master Gardeners provided technical assistance to Erie County for the Home for the Gnomes pesticide reduction program. They developed healthy lawn outreach materials, made healthy lawn presentations, held in person outreach, registered pesticide free lawn pledges, distributed signs and mapped lawn sign locations.
Western New York Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management –Watercraft Inspection Stewardship Program
One of eight regional partnerships, WNY PRISM is protecting our aquatic resources by fighting the spread of invasive species. Boat stewards are teaching boat owners to identify and remove invasive species from their boats at seven public boat launches in WNY. This program resulted in 5,672 inspections, removal of 491 invasive species, and conversations with nearly 14,000 individuals.
Green Springville – Solarize Southtowns
Green Springville is a volunteer based not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote sustainable living in Springville and surrounding communities. Green Springville hosts regular speaker events and local clean-up efforts. In 2019 Green Springville began a large-scale community campaign to expand knowledge, dispel myths, promote the benefits and assist in the adoption of solar electric power across Southern Erie County called Solarize Southtowns.
Working with five municipalities, Solarize Southtowns held 40 events, engaged over 120 residents across 14 zip codes and helped 34 homeowners install solar systems on their property. The program installed enough solar array to reduce regional greenhouse gasses by 271 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (MTCO2e) annually. Comparatively, 354 acres of mature forest consumes this amount from the atmosphere in a year.
In addition, Solarize Southtowns was the first to include Solar-For-All, a NYSERDA program for low income residents. This program helped older residents on a fixed income to access solar electricity and reduce their energy bills. This program continues to be available to income eligible residents throughout Erie County and across New York State.
Erie Community College and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper – Water Academy (lead image)
Working together, this innovative partnership provides a field based environmental course twice a year. The Water Academy educates students, professionals, teachers and citizens. Over 475 participants have taken the course. This program is building the environmental capacity of WNY and improving the health and wellbeing of our community.
Lead image: Courtesy Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper