Governor Holcomb Honors Six Organizations Including Cummins And IU With State’s Top Environmental Award

(UNDATED) – The Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence were presented to six recipients who were honored for extraordinary initiatives in protecting the environment.

“Our 2020 Governor’s Award winners have made great strides in improving Indiana’s environment,” said IDEM Commissioner Bruno Pigott. “By using innovative environmental practices, they have reduced waste, saved money, and contributed greatly to environmental protection efforts for Hoosiers.”

IDEM Commissioner Bruno Pigott presented the awards during the 23rd annual Pollution Prevention Conference and Tradeshow on September 16 and 17, 2020. This year’s event was held virtually due to COVID-19 concerns. 

The 2020 categories and recipients are as follows: 

Energy Efficiency/Renewable Resources:

Vuteq Indiana, Princeton, Gibson County, for “Energy Reduction Grid Tied Solar Energy System.” 

Pictured (left-to-right): Bob Lugar, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Office of Program Support, IDEM; Bruno Pigott, Commissioner, IDEM; Jeremy Eastham, Environmental, Health, and Safety Manager, Vuteq Indiana; Banks Brewster, Plant Manager, Vuteq Indiana; Julia Wickard, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Program Support, IDEM

Vuteq Indiana implemented a large-scale solar project in 2019. Their 1.5-megawatt direct current rooftop solar system has more than 4,440 panels distributed over their roof along with 17 mounted inverters. Vuteq also replaced all its 335 mercury halide high bay lights with LN-TR-40 LED lights. The solar powered energy system will provide about 50% of the plant’s electrical needs on an annual basis. On sunny days, it could provide up to 75% of the electrical load. Compared to their baseline year in 2015, Vuteq has saved $349,443 in energy costs and reduced electrical consumption by over 3 million kilowatt hours.

Environmental Outreach/Education:

Indiana University, Bloomington, Monroe County, for “Education for Environmental Change.” 

Pictured (left-to-right): Bob Lugar, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Office of Program Support, IDEM; Bruno Pigott, Commissioner, IDEM; Jeremy Eastham, Environmental, Health, and Safety Manager, Vuteq Indiana; Banks Brewster, Plant Manager, Vuteq Indiana; Julia Wickard, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Program Support, IDEM

To address gaps in teachers’ understanding of environmental science, and to foster a state-wide network of educators focused on building environmental literacy, the Education for Environmental Change team embarked on a project for the further development, research, and implementation of professional development programming for K-12 teachers to effectively teach environmental change science. Education for Environmental Change offers educator support via the Summer Science Institute, a three day workshop aligned with Indiana science standards, multiple one day in-semester workshops based on various topics aligned with Indiana science standards, and continuous curriculum development and in-classroom support from IU scientists and educators. Since 2017, the program has attracted more than 80 participant educators impacting around 15,000 learners in the Hoosier State.

Five Year Continuous Improvement:

Cummins Inc. Engine Plant, Columbus, Bartholomew County, for “Environmental Management System Projects.” 

Pictured (left-to-right): Mark Hauersperger, David Gelfius, Greg Totten, Condell McPherson, Joe Lutz, Breana Adams, David Wehrkamp, Darcy Bozarth, Justin Wilson, Logan Howe, Alex Rovder, Dan Lienhoop

At its Columbus engine plant, Cummins has implemented five environmentally beneficial projects as part of their environmental management system (EMS). Their EMS projects include: an LED lighting upgrade in 2017, manufacturing controls project from 2017-2019, test cell process improvement projects from 2016-2019, zero waste to landfill initiative from 2017-2018, and community recycles day held annually since 2010. Some of the highlights from Cummins EMS projects include test cell process improvements which resulted in water usage reductions of 3.4 million gallons per year. The LED lighting upgrade resulted in a reduction of electricity usage of 82,247 kilowatt hours per month. As part of their Zero Waste to landfill initiative, Cummins diverted 136,820 pounds of waste per year from the landfill. Their Community Recycling Day, which is open to all Columbus residents, has diverted another 740,000 pounds of material from the landfill from 2015-2019.

Greening the Government: 

City of Richmond Parks & Recreation Department, Richmond, Wayne County, for “Richmond Greenhouse Restoration Initiative.” 

Pictured (left-to-right): Bob Lugar, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Office of Program Support, IDEM; Bruno Pigott, Commissioner, IDEM; Laura Karnes, Landscaping & Naturalist Leader, Richmond Parks & Recreation Department; Izzi Willhelm, Floral & Beautification Leader, Richmond Parks & Recreation Department; Julia Wickard, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Program Support, IDEM

The Parks Department Greenhouse Restoration Initiative included removing three dilapidated components of the facility: a brick smokestack, several wooden greenhouses, and a boiler house. 23.93 tons of metal were recycled from the boiler house alone. In an effort to develop a more sustainable horticultural program, the Greenhouse converted from buying plants, to growing plants from seed. The parks department was able to find innovative ways to reduce costs and provide environmental benefits by using compost instead of potting soil, tilling or raking playgrounds instead of spraying with glyphosate, removing invasive plants, and holding community plant sales.

Land Use/Conservation:

Elkhart County Soil & Water Conservation District, Elkhart, Elkhart County, for “Stormwater Alliance Program (SWAMP)” 

SWAMP is a cost-share program that covers up to 75% of the total cost of each approved project. SWAMP covers six best management practices (BMPs) that benefit not only the land users, but Elkhart County as well through increased water quality. The six BMPs included in the program are blind inlets, cover crops, filter strips, grade stabilization structures, grassed waterways, and exclusion fencing. Since the beginning of the project in 2017, the number of participants in the SWAMP program has increased from seven in 2017 to 68 in 2019. Since the program’s inception, SWAMP has prevented a total of 20,373 tons of soil from entering local waterways, saved $42,783 in total on-farm nutrient benefit, and saved a total of $100,438 in total off-farm water quality benefit.

Recycle/Reuse: 

Midwest Dairy Recycling, North Manchester, Wabash County, for “Dairy Recycling Program.” 

Midwest Dairy supplies its veal operations with calves from local dairies. While working with these dairies, Midwest Dairy learned of milk bottling companies throwing away outdated, nearly outdated, and/or damaged product. After contacting these milk bottling companies, Midwest Dairy constructed a system to collect liquid and dry products at a central location in North Manchester and redistribute the products to its veal operations across Indiana. Since the launch of the program in 2017, Midwest Dairy Recycling has recycled over 2.9 million gallons of dairy milk, 2.2 million pounds of hog feed, 444,568 pounds of plastic, and over 1.4 million pounds of baby formula.

The Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence is an annual program to recognize Indiana’s leaders who have identified and implemented innovative environmental practices into their programs and facilities. The awards program is open to all Indiana facilities, state and local units of government, individuals, and technical assistance organizations that implement exemplary environmental projects with measurable results. 

For more information about the Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence, please visit https://www.in.gov/idem/partnerships/2457.htm. Nomination forms for the 2021 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence will be available soon. Organizations, businesses, and individuals will have until March 2021 to submit nominations for projects completed in 2019 and 2020.

About IDEM

IDEM (idem.IN.gov) implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment.

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