(BLOOMINGTON) – The Bloomington Commission on Sustainability (BCOS) announced the winners of its second annual Sustainability Awards Wednesday, May 29 at the Bloomington City Council meeting. The commission considered initiative, impact, and innovation in making award decisions in each of three categories: individual, business, and nonprofit.
The Individual Sustainability Award recipient is Anne Hedin. Hedin has contributed to the adoption of solar energy locally as a volunteer with SIREN (Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network), which organizes the Solarize Bloomington campaigns, and Indiana Solar for All, which helps low- to moderate-income homeowners go solar. Primarily through SIREN’s efforts, Monroe County leads the state in the number of solar owners, representing 15-20 percent of Indiana’s total installed solar capacity. Hedin co-chaired the Education Committee of the Monroe County Energy Challenge, whose legacy includes the Solar, Wind & Watts Roadshow that teaches hundreds of elementary school students about renewable energy every year. She helped create the momentum to put the first solar system on an MCCSC school building, Templeton Elementary; combined with LED lighting, it reduced energy usage by 30 percent. Since February 2017, she has written and published the Time to Choose Coalition newsletter and website to raise awareness of climate change and of local initiatives to build a more sustainable future.
The Business Sustainability Award was given to Bloomington Cleaners. As a result of the investment and work of the owners, Stephen and David Arthur, Bloomington Cleaners were named a Certified Environmental Cleaner (CED) by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI). The owners invested $400,000 to excavate and remediate their property, contaminated by the dry cleaning business previously located there. Bloomington Cleaners has invested in new equipment that does not use hazardous chemicals. The new equipment, Solvair, uses a biodegradable cleaning liquid and recycled CO2 in a system designed to maximize recycling and minimize both energy use and waste. This improved system eliminates hazardous waste that can be generated by older models.
Sycamore Land Trust and Hoosier Hills Food Bank tied for this year’s Nonprofit Sustainability Award.
Sycamore Land Trust, a nonprofit headquartered in Bloomington, protects and restores natural areas and provides environmental education in southern Indiana. The amount of land under permanent protection by Sycamore has grown from 38 acres when it was founded in 1990 to 9,777 acres today. Land conservation is one of the key ways to combat climate change; through active land stewardship projects such as controlling invasive species and planting native trees and other plants, Sycamore’s work has provided habitat for endangered and protected species, 35 miles of hiking trails at public nature preserves, and erosion control resulting in cleaner water and soil. Sycamore also provides free environmental education to more than 6,800 people per year, including dozens of schools. Sycamore fosters a strong connection to local schools and Indiana University through programs that bring hands-on nature learning to classrooms across the city.
Hoosier Hills Food Bank was founded on the sustainable practice of rescuing food that would otherwise be wasted and distributing it through programs that feed people facing food insecurity and hunger. Last year, the food bank distributed a record 4,876,808 pounds of food in a six-county region that includes Bloomington. This included over 1.2 million pounds of fresh produce. In addition to collecting donated food daily from retail and wholesale operations, HHFB’s Meal Share program collects, repacks and distributes prepared food from restaurants and caterers and the Gleaning program uses volunteers to harvest excess produce from farm partners. The food bank’s Garden program engages volunteers in planting, maintaining, and harvesting fresh produce and composts appropriate non-distributable food to minimize waste. These and other sources help the food bank supply nearly 100 partner agencies fighting food insecurity in the region.
“We are deeply grateful to the 2019 Sustainability Award winners,” said Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton. “These individuals and organizations are laying the foundations of Bloomington’s future by strengthening environmental protection, economic health, and equity.”
At the May 29 presentation, the Sustainability Award winners received statues made of 100 percent bio-based recycled waste materials by Ryan Mandell, Digital Fabrication Labs Coordinator at Indiana University.
The Bloomington Commission on Sustainability works to promote environmental health and social and economic development in Bloomington. For more information about BCOS, visit bloomington.in.gov/boards/sustainability.