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Federal Green Challenge

2018 Federal Green Challenge Award Winners in the New England Region

Recognition is an important part of the Federal Green Challenge (FGC). Awards were given in the categories of innovation and leadership in the New England region.

In Region 1, which serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and 10 Tribal Nations, the 2018 regional award winners are the Veterans Affairs of Central Western Massachusetts and the Vermont Air National Guard. The award winners shared details about their diversion activities, and about their awards with EPA. Below are the stories they tell behind their accomplishments.

Innovation

Veterans Administration, VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System, Northampton, Mass.

2018 AwardThe Veterans Affairs (VA) Central Western Massachusetts (CWM) Healthcare System is a 131-bed facility that provides mental health care, as well as long-term care for patients. In 2016, VA CWM’s Green Environmental Management System Committee identified a mechanism for the hospital’s Nutritional and Food Service Department to divert its food waste from landfills. Although food waste volume fell below the Massachusetts Food Waste Ban requirements of 2,000 pounds of food waste per week, the decision to take action was based on environmental considerations and a cost savings of approximately $85 per ton for waste disposal.

After an extensive review process, a food waste dehydrator was selected for its ease of operation, low maintenance and efficiency. The dehydrator was tailored to fit in seamlessly with the tray and dish cleaning operations of the main kitchen. Most impressively, the dehydrator reduced the weight of food waste by 85 percent, generating a residual material that resembles coffee grounds, which is used as a soil amendment and fertilizer.

The food dehydrator began operation on January 23, 2017. The benefits of the dehydrator were immediate. The kitchen staff appreciated lifting trash bags that were significantly lighter due to the absence of heavy food scraps. The groundskeepers benefitted from a free product that they would otherwise have to purchase. In just over 208 days, Nutritional Services diverted 12.25 tons of food waste, eliminating an unnecessary waste management cost.

Leadership

U.S. Vermont Air National Guard, Jericho, Vt.

2018 AwardThe Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) trains Citizen Airmen to respond to a wide range of military and domestic operations. From Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 to FY 2017, VTANG redesigned and began construction on an aircraft taxiway and a separate aircraft parking apron for the unit’s assigned aircraft, which required the demolition of existing concrete and asphalt pavements and utility structures. During project design, to minimize costs and environmental impacts, a waste management plan was formulated that called for the extensive reuse and recycling of demolished materials. Through pre-construction planning and coordination, the project contractor and contracting team diverted 12,286 tons of milled asphalt pavement, 35,796 tons of demolished concrete, and 43,000 cubic yards of excavated soil from area landfills. The diverted asphalt material was repurposed by a local paving supplier as an additive in new paving material for local paving projects. The concrete was also partially reused as additive material in new concrete by a local supplier and as material to fill in an abandoned quarry adjacent to the project site, along with the excavated soil.

Stormwater from this project will be infiltrated, minimizing the impact to the area surrounding this 38-acre project. In addition, 250 tons of clean wood, metals, piping, plastics and cardboard were diverted to secondary markets. The redesign and construction of the new taxiway was a win-win-win in terms of saving tax payer dollars, material reuse, and waste diversion from the landfill.

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