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Five Individuals & Eleven Groups From Massachusetts Receive Environmental Awards

Release Date: 05/17/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017,

For Immediate Release: May 17, 2005; Release #dd050517

(Boston - May 17, 2005) Five Bay Staters and eleven Massachusetts groups were honored today in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presented the 2005 Environmental Merit Awards. Recognizing significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, the Massachusetts awardees included three for individual contributions, four for business, industry and professional organizations, one for efforts by local, state or federal governments, six for work by environmental/community/academia/non-profit organizations, and two lifetime achievement awards.

The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew approximately 70 nominations from across New England.

“These awards are among the highest honors EPA can bestow to recognize environmental accomplishments,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “The work of these individuals, organizations and businesses reflect the best attributes of New Englanders, working to find solutions to environmental issues. I offer my gratitude for their extraordinary contributions in protecting the environment.”

The winners from Massachusetts were among 38 from across New England. Awards were given in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA may present lifetime achievement awards for individuals.
Environmental Merit Award Winners from Massachusetts are:

Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award:
James Farrell (Posthumous)

James D.P. Farrell is remembered today for so many great qualities and talents including his prominence as an exceptional environmental attorney, a masterful negotiator and a treasured colleague. After Jim graduated in 1986 from Boston College Law School, he worked in the environmental enforcement division at the U.S. Department of Justice and as an aide to U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, before joining the Massachusetts attorney general's office in 1999. Jim died suddenly last November at the age of 46. At DOJ, Jim was admired for his work on complex Superfund negotiations - including negotiations in New England. As a DOJ attorney on the General Electric Pittsfield case, Jim's ideas during negotiations helped parties reach an unprecedented settlement. While at the Massachusetts AG’s office, Jim was chief of the brownfields unit and was often involved in delicate negotiations among developers, municipalities and former owners of contaminated sites. He was instrumental in making the brownfields redevelopment process work in Massachusetts. Jim's work for the AG’s office strengthened the partnership between EPA New England and the state. He was a valued member of the South Weymouth Naval Base case team, where he helped bring together representatives of the business, environmental and military communities for site cleanup and redevelopment. Jim’s dedication, professionalism, talent and commitment to the environment will be remembered always and are honored today.

Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award:
Elsie R. Souza

Elsie Souza embodies a driving passion and dedication for the people of New Bedford. Souza speaks with a soft voice, but when she speaks her quiet intensity commands respect and her insight speaks volumes. Souza’s dedication to the people and environs of New Bedford runs deep. Born and raised in New Bedford, Souza taught in the public schools for 25 years as a special education teacher. She joined Congressman Barney Frank’s New Bedford office as Office Manager in 1993. For the past twelve years, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of New Bedford. Her advocacy of issues important to local residents has been instrumental in the PCB cleanup of New Bedford Harbor. The environmental regulatory agencies rely on her ability to understand multiple vantage points and synthesize the issues. She has earned the deep respect from her community and from those with whom she works. Souza will be greatly missed after her relocation to Florida, but she leaves a legacy that will continue to impact New Bedford for years to come.

Individual Environmental Merit Award:
Robert Beaudoin

Lexington, Mass., Superintendent of Environmental Services

Robert Beaudoin, Superintendent of Environmental Services for Lexington, oversees curbside waste and recycling in the town. Although Robert was hired to run the Pay as You Throw program, this program was tossed out by a court and he had to continue to reduce trash while increasing recycling rates. Robert managed to do this through a number of methods, including: public recycling receptacles; recycling flyers and hazardous waste postcards sent to homes; free recycling boxes to civic organizations; complementary kitchen scrap composting buckets; and a public fluorescent bulb recovery program. Robert also manages the regional Minuteman Household Hazardous Products Facility at the former landfill, where nearly 4,000 cars delivered products in 2004. His most daunting challenge was developing a composting program that maximized the breakdown of yard waste and made the program self sufficient. He negotiated with another town to deliver yard waste to this facility, then marketed compost products to local landscape companies. In the past year, Robert has improved the environmental health of the town, earning him a nomination for this award from the town DPW and the local Chamber of Commerce.

Individual Environmental Merit Award:
William Bell

Mass. Department of Public Health, Radiation Control Program

William Bell has made outstanding efforts to reduce lung cancer deaths associated with radon exposure and has played a national role in radon exposure reduction. As coordinator of the Massachusetts State Radon Control Program, Bill educates school districts, communities and individuals about the hazards of exposure to radon. For example, in 2003, after learning from Bill about the health risks of radon exposure, officials at the Swift River Elementary School in Belchertown voluntarily tested the school and found radon levels above EPA action level in 34 of 87 locations at the school. School officials worked with Bill to prevent radon gas from entering the school. Five permanent radon mitigation systems were installed and follow-up testing verified the system protected students and staff. In addition to his work to reduce radon exposure, Bill chairs the national radon subcommittee of the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, frequently presenting at regional and national conferences. He wins accolades for his expertise and his willingness to help with a difficult radon problem anywhere in the U.S. We give Bill credit for his dedication to this issue.

Individual Environmental Merit Award:
Mettie Whipple

Eel River Watershed Association

Thanks to one person, Mettie Whipple, the Eel River is beginning to rank as one of the town of Plymouth’s most cherished resources. Whipple is a selfless advocate for rivers that face unprecedented rates of growth in their watersheds. When a treatment plant was proposed with a groundwater discharge in the Eel River watershed, Mettie was concerned about the impact on the river. A graphic designer by trade, she learned the ropes of regulations, ecology and wastewater treatment and raised issues concerning the impacts of the wastewater. Over the past year, Mettie has helped negotiate an agreement between the town and local golf course to use the effluent for irrigation. Mettie is also the Eel River’s publicist, having founded the Eel River Watershed Association. Mettie’s success goes beyond the Eel River watershed. She helped found the Watershed Action Alliance, to work on water withdrawal impacts and identify commonalities in rivers and watersheds. We believe Mettie deserves an EPA Annual Merit Award for all her efforts on behalf of the environment.

Local, State or Federal Governmental Environmental Merit Award:
Mass. Executive Office of Environmental Affairs - Environmental Justice Outreach
Tony Chaves and Kwabena Kyei-Aboagye Jr.

Tony Chaves and Kwabena Kyei-Aboagye, Jr. worked in the past year to advance environmental justice throughout Massachusetts. They created five regional EJ Outreach Teams that brought together representatives from non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, municipalities and regional planning agencies, colleges and universities and businesses. These teams worked to reduce or eliminate Environmental Justice issues in the state. In 2004, the teams hosted the Sustainable Cleaner Manufacturing Conference in Worcester and the Environmental Justice Across the Mystic Summit in Somerville. In addition, through the Outreach Teams, the EJ program identified 15 projects that need to raise some $46 .1 million between July 2004 and June 2005. The Outreach Teams have also identified community-based projects that can be considered for potential Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act mitigation or that should be considered as Supplemental Environmental Projects in the state's enforcement program. In sum, the work Tony and Kwabena have done has pushed community groups, local, state and federal government agencies and academia to think and act to promote environmental justice in the state.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
Blackstone River Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Team

The Blackstone River Watershed Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program evaluates water quality throughout the Blackstone watershed. This effort includes the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition in the Worcester region, the Blackstone River Watershed Association in the mid-reach of the watershed, and the Blackstone River Watershed Council in Rhode Island. Other partners are Mass Audubon and the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley Heritage Corridor Commission. Working with business organizations and government agencies, the team makes up the Blackstone River Coalition, which is working jointly toward the goal of a fishable/swimmable Blackstone River by 2015. The Blackstone River Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Team created this monitoring program in 2004, connecting volunteers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Three watershed organizations were linked and a plan on data collection and monitoring was developed. The team monitors 80 locations with 70 volunteers on a monthly basis April to November. In 2004, the team stopped three companies from discharging toxic cleaning solvents into a small stream. Equally impressive, the Blackstone Team in 2004 received more than $100,000 in funding to sustain the program into 2006. The Blackstone Team should be congratulated for its true grassroots leadership to take action to improve the water quality of this American Heritage River.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
Gary Kaplan, Executive Director, JFY NetWorks

Gary Kaplan, executive director of JFY NetWorks, Inc. in Boston, (along with co-recipient Sally Turner, director of Groundwork Providence in Providence, RI) oversees EPA grants under the Brownfields Job Training Program. Both programs are outstanding national models of what the program is meant to accomplish. JFY NetWorks was one of the first recipients of an EPA Brownfields Job Training Grant in 1998 and has been awarded three more grants since. It prepares graduates for jobs as entry-level environmental technicians. These efforts at job training let disadvantaged residents of communities participate in revitalizing their neighborhoods. The job opportunities help improve the self esteem of people who have had many obstacles preventing them from developing careers. Although training students is important, generating jobs in the environmental field is key to their successful programs. Both Gary and Sally have succeeded in getting commitments from employers, which contributed to the high placement rate of students. Their success in this endeavor provides an example for other environmental job training providers.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions

The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions was created to make the 2004 Democratic National Convention a showcase for environmental best practices. Under the leadership of Daniel Ruben, CERC’s executive director, successfully “greened” the Democratic Convention and also expanded to include the 2004 Republican National Convention. Participants include organizations and individuals from the commercial, government, and non-profit sectors; and volunteer professionals in the fields of energy, transportation, waste management, hotels, green buildings, and use of local food. Convention organizers from both parties cooperated. Some of the coalitions’ most important achievements included: purchase of 500 renewable energy credits to match electricity use at the Fleet Center; persuading the NYC Host Committee to buy 474 wind energy credits for Madison Square Garden; persuading Hyatt Regency Boston to divert food waste for composting, and helping Shawmut Design and Construction maximize building material reuse and recycling for the Fleet Center renovation. The coalition also persuaded General Motors to send eight hybrid buses to both conventions. The coalition’s media strategy resulted in 90 articles about environmental best practices, and seven television and radio features. This coalition showed how a mostly volunteer organization could bring attention to a national imperative: to adopt practices and technologies that protect against global warming.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
Leominster Land Trust

The Leominster Land Trust was established in 1998 to protect and preserve the lands and waters of the Leominster region for their ecological, historic and scenic values. This region is facing intense growth pressures that are transforming the region’s farms and forests to new residential, commercial and industrial land uses. Water supplies and rare wildlife habitats have been threatened by this growth, while "supporting natural landscapes" need protection. At the same time, population growth has increased the demand for outdoor recreation in the area. Volunteers with the Leominster Land Trust have worked over the past year to preserve more than 100 acres of open space and wildlife habitats through fee acquisitions and conservation agreements. They have also worked with municipal officials to protect more than 1,000 acres of water supply watersheds and other natural resources. In addition, the trust has helped city officials increase the minimum lot size in water supply watersheds and has expanded the nine-mile trail system that links Leominster State Forest with local conservation lands. Environmental education and outdoor recreation programs have been put in place while the trust has identified pollution sources that impact Leominster's water supplies and recreational waters. The innovative and successful activities of the Leominster Land Trust have been shared with local and regional conservation organizations.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
The Mystic River Watershed Association

The Mystic River Watershed Association’s main aim is to make the Mystic River fishable and swimmable by 2010, but it has expanded its overall mission throughout the years. Combining community involvement with hands-on outreach, the association has become an environmental leader in New England. In 2004 its efforts were targeted at advocacy; monitoring and research; and outreach and education. The association has promoted watershed protection and clean up efforts – partnering with Tufts University and other area schools to conduct monitoring and involve local communities and students in clean-up efforts. The association’s water quality monitoring has been shared with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and EPA. Through unique events, the association promotes community awareness. For instance, the annual Herring Run Road Race has become a community favorite, following the route of the returning herring. The volunteer clean up effort along the Mystic River drew more than 100 volunteers to last year’s event. From its humble beginning over 30 years ago, the Mystic River Watershed Association has developed into a forceful and respected organization.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
Shawsheen River Watershed Association

Founder Bob Rauseo and the members of the Shawsheen River Watershed Association, don't just talk about cleaning up the Shawsheen River – they do it. Wading into the river to retrieve rusted shopping carts, bald tires and countless other unused artifacts several times a year, the members of the Shawsheen River Watershed Association have turned this previously fetid little stream into a tranquil resource enjoyed by six surrounding towns. Bob says he's encountered everything from washing machines and refrigerators to ski bindings and rifle parts in the river in the 20 years he and others have been cleaning it. Every year a handful of the organization's faithful wade waist deep in mud to wrest shopping carts and other debris from the river. Last year volunteers cleaned up what could be called the “last section” of the 24-mile river. From the headwaters in Bedford to the Stevens Street dam in east Andover, the river bottom and banks have been scoured. A four-mile stretch of abandoned tires and oil drums stands between this year's cleanup crew and where the Shawsheen connects to the Merrimack River.

Business, Industry and Professional Organizations Environmental Merit Award:
Cambridge Savings Bank

Cambridge Savings Bank is a community bank that recognizes the need to conserve energy and reduce air pollutants. Four years ago, the bank started an energy conservation program with a goal of reducing energy use by 5 percent. The bank's efforts culminated in 2004 with energy savings in excess of 20 percent. The bank has achieved Energy Star labeling for seven buildings. The bank's efforts have reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide by close to 4,470 pounds, nitrogen oxide by 1,575 pounds and carbon dioxide from electricity generation by 559,000 pounds. In order to achieve these results, the bank used the methods suggested by Energy Star, first benchmarking energy use, then putting in place a plan to reduce use while monitoring progress. The bank partnered with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to study the use of fuel cells, encourage the use of wind energy and to install and operate a photovoltaic system to generate electricity at its Newton Centre Branch. The Cambridge Savings Bank program could be easily replicated by other businesses. It relies on the Energy Star methodology and the support of employees. The program has already spread to the homes of many bank employees who report impressive savings in electric and heating bills.

Business, Industry and Professional Organizations Environmental Merit Award:
Consigli Construction

The impact of construction and demolition debris on the environment is staggering. More than 135 million tons of debris from construction sites is brought to U.S. landfills every year, making it the single largest source in the waste stream. In Massachusetts construction and demolition accounts for roughly 25 percent of landfill deposits and 95 percent of non-municipal solid waste stream. Working with the Massachusetts DEP, Consigli Construction has entered into a voluntary pilot study to help determine the possibilities of construction waste recycling. Consigli put in place a company-wide source separation and recycling program. The six materials (asphalt, brick, concrete, wood, metal and corrugated cardboard) targeted in the construction and demolition regulations are being regularly recycled, and ceiling tile, new scrap gypsum, carpet and other materials are also being included. Consigli is also supplying data to the Civil Engineering Department at Northeastern University in Boston, for use in a simulation model to predict construction site waste streams.

Business, Industry and Professional Organizations Environmental Merit Award:
Hyatt Regency Boston

The Hyatt Regency Boston made a commitment in 2004 to continuously use environmentally friendly practices. The hotel industry can make a significant impact on protecting the environment. The Hyatt Regency Boston’s green practices include using ice machines and kitchen refrigeration units cooled by air, instead of water. Guestroom faucet aerators were changed in 2004 from 2.5 to 2 gallons per minute. Hotel offices and back areas are almost all retrofitted with lights that conserve wattage. Every meeting and storage room is equipped with motion sensors to turn lights on and off. And every guest room has a programmable energy thermostat that is turned on at check in and off at check out. To limit energy, water, and detergent use, the hotel does not change linens and towels in guest rooms for up to three days unless requested by a guest. The hotel’s recycling program includes everything from paper and bottles to electronic parts, fluorescent lamps and computer monitors. The latest component to this program is our barrel for compost and organic waste in the hotel kitchen. A key initiatives for the hotel’s 2005 agenda is to convert the laundry system to the Ozone laundry system.

Business, Industry and Professional Organizations Environmental Merit Award:
Sarnafil Roofing Systems Inc.

Canton, Massachusetts

Electricity shortages and ozone alerts have become a regular summer phenomenon in the region. Heightened energy demand and use elevates the rate of childhood asthma and increases respiratory ailments. Mitigating the negative impacts of development demands increased conservation and smart building codes. A strategy of installing white reflective roofing is one of the simplest and most cost effective measures for reducing commercial and industrial electrical demand. The products of Sarnafil Roofing Systems Inc. are focused on this goal. Sarnafil has been a New England manufacturer of innovative roofing products for commercial and industrial markets for 25 years. Their philosophy of manufacturing roof materials goes beyond merely providing protection against elements to also offer a reflective material that minimizes heat gain and enhances the insulation factor, directly reducing a building's energy demand. Once installed, reflective roofs passively provide a continuous energy saving component and do not add to smog or ground forming ozone generation through heat island effects. Sarnafil been committed to Energy Star principles and is a charter partner in the Energy Star Roof Products Program, promoting awareness of reflective roofing to developers installing new roofing. Sarnafil has been informing State DEPs that they can use reflective roofing as an approved strategy in the formation of their State Implementation Plans to achieve air quality.

Related Information:
Environmental Merit

2005 Recipients