June 19, 2017

2017 GreenCircle Awards

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Gov. Dannel Malloy helps cut the ribbon on a fuel cell at Amity Regional High.
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PerkinElmer’s high-efficiency cooling tower replaced an older unit.
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Among the many projects BBE has completed is the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford.
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Solar panels atop the 777 Main St. apartment tower in downtown Hartford.
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Pratt workers’ trash bounty following a day of environmental cleanup.
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0&G blasted a tunnel to build a habitat for bats.
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WMG’s new headquarters in Suffield.
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Rooftop solar panels atop RHAM high and middle schools.
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An aerial view of Grace Farms’ unique River building.
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Church of Praise Pastor Michon-White Bernard poses with church, United Illuminating and other officials.
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Phase one of Davis Gardens Apartments in Waterbury.
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A temperature control system in a North Haven government building.
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A view across Harbor Brook of a new amphitheater in Meriden.
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Wolcott students participate in an electronics recycling day.

This special focus section highlights the winners of this year's GreenCircle Awards – an annual awards series organized by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEEP) to highlight business, institutions and individuals who have shown leadership in energy efficiency and reducing their impact on the environment. This year there were nearly 60 nominations for the awards and winners were selected by an independent panel of judges. The winners were honored at a June 8th ceremony, organized by the Hartford Business Journal at the Connecticut Convention Center.

Their stories are outlined below. Or you can click here for a digital edition.

Town of Woodbridge, Amity Regional School District and Woodbridge Public Schools

Town: Woodbridge

Sector: Individual/Group

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; water; civic improvements; and innovation

The town of Woodbridge, including its Amity Regional School District, has implemented several energy-saving projects in recent years to reduce its carbon footprint, earning the municipality three Energy Star certifications in 2016.

The town has a microgrid powered by a fuel cell, which is owned and operated by United Illuminating. The high school has converted all of its lighting to LED light bulbs, programed its computers to shut off by 5 p.m., converted from oil to natural gas and has a full-time HVAC technician who monitors and adjusts the building's energy efficiency controls through its Siemens Building Management System.

The Woodbridge Beecher Road Elementary school installed a solar electric system in 2016 along with a cogeneration system and three high-efficiency condensing natural gas boilers to lower hot water and space heating fuel usage.

Town hall uses two natural gas boilers to heat its building as well as LED lighting. Rooms also have occupancy sensors.

PerkinElmer Health Services Inc.

Town: Shelton

Sector: Business/Industry

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; material management/recycling; and innovation

In 2016 PerkinElmer Health Services Inc., which sells products and services to the diagnostics, research and laboratory service markets, implemented several environmental projects including its Kimberly Clark RightCycle Program, through which it recycled 1,185 pounds of nitrile gloves and garments to support its zero-waste-to-landfill goals.

It also replaced an 800 ton cooling tower with a new stainless steel high-efficiency cooling tower with variable speed drives. Other projects included installing LED lights, which saved 17,315 kilowatt hours of energy in 2016, and holding an impact day in which staff: removed over 2 tons of trash globally from rivers, beaches and parks; planted 145 trees and 300 plants; removed over 25,000 pounds of weeds; and cleared 100 acres of land.

Bartlett Brainard Eacott Inc.

Town: Bloomfield

Sector: Business/Industry

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; material management/recycling; water; and innovation

In 2016, Bartlett Brainard Eacott Inc. (BBE) said it was the first construction manager in the state to build a project under the International WELL Building Institute standards, which aim to create buildings that promote human health and wellbeing through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. BBE also promotes and has constructed multiple LEED certified projects.

Most recently the company reduced by 30 percent its consumption of fossil fuels for temporary heat during construction by investing in high-efficiency equipment, fuel selection and work plans that include enhanced temporary enclosures.

The company also helped develop the practice of diverting and recycling acoustical ceiling tile in the state by teaming with Armstrong World Industries to test, package and transport ceiling pads back to the factory to be remanufactured. It has recycled more than 350 dumpsters worth of tiles, making it a U.S. leader.

BBE has installed more than 220 geothermal wells and also focuses on solar and green roof systems as well as high-performance buildings.

Becker and Becker Associates

Town: Fairfield/Hartford

Sector: Business/Industry

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; material management/recycling; innovation; and water

After completing a rehabilitation of the vacant 777 Main St. office tower in downtown Hartford in 2015, Becker + Becker has continued to green the 500,000-square-foot building, now converted to apartments and commercial space.

777 Main is the first and only mixed-use building in the state that is LEED Platinum certified, according to Becker. The building produces its own heat, hot water and electricity without combustion of fossil fuels via a 400-kilowatt fuel cell and 100-kilowatt solar array.

In 2016, the project met 85 percent of its electric demand via its 3.4 million kilowatt hours of on-site generation.

The building is also served by a microgrid and incorporates advanced energy-saving technologies including: centralized buildings systems, demand-control ventilation, central high-efficiency boilers, LED lighting, 11 electric vehicle chargers, Nest smart thermostats, low-flow water fixtures and other features that have reduced apartment power consumption to 30 percent of the national household average and water use to 38 percent of the average.

Pratt & Whitney

Town: Middletown

Sector: Business/Industry

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; material management/recycling; innovation; civic improvements; and water

Pratt & Whitney has been striving to make its Middletown campus more sustainable and took several steps in 2016 to make that happen.

The company's initiatives focused on several core areas including: energy savings, greenhouse gas reductions, water reductions, and wood pallet reuse and recycling. Projects included upgrades to chiller controls, process motors, shop lighting and new piping insulation.

As a result, Pratt was able to reduce:

• Greenhouse gas emissions by 504 metric tons

• Water usage by 2.4 million gallons

• Hazardous waste by 45,927 pounds

• Nitrogen gas usage by 52 percent

• Argon gas usage by 46 percent

In addition, the company was a lead sponsor of the 2016 Source to Sea Connecticut River cleanup event last September. Employees collected and disposed of eight tires, two pickup trucks full of trash, one metal I-beam section, styrofoam from floating docks, plastic and glass bottles, and other items.

O&G Industries Inc.

Town: Torrington/New Milford

Sector: Business/Industry

Sustainability Components: Innovation

O&G Industries Inc. (O&G) recently developed a comprehensive, long-term mining and reclamation plan for its 342-acre limestone quarry in New Milford.

The quarry has been active since the late 1800s and some of the earliest rock quarrying led to the development of a tunnel used to mine and extract rock within a portion of the property.

The tunnel has evolved over time to serve as a bat habitat for various bat species.

It is projected that the land area and reserves that contain the bat tunnel will not be mined for approximately another 12 to 15 years. In the meantime, O&G has taken a proactive approach to mitigate the impact of the tunnel's eventual loss by planning, designing and establishing an alternative bat habitat in a suitable location well in advance of future mining activity.

O&G retained the services of a mining engineer who specializes in underground mining as well as a contractor that specializes in tunnel drilling and blasting to develop a new bat habitat at a location on the property that will not be impacted by any future mining.

Drilling and blasting for the new bat habitat commenced in mid-June 2016 and was substantially complete within 13 months. State environmental officials are monitoring the new tunnel and are hopeful bats will roost there this coming winter.

Windsor Marketing Group

Town: Suffield

Sector: Business/Industry

Sustainability Components: Energy and climate change; material management/recycling; and innovation

In 2016, Windsor Marketing Group completed work on its new headquarters in Suffield that uses energy efficiency and eco-friendly systems.

To save energy, the building uses T5 fluorescent lighting, which significantly reduces electricity consumption and lasts longer than conventional lights. Forty-eight motion sensors control 98 light fixtures in the company's warehouse and there are more than 300 LED fixtures throughout the building.

Meantime, time-sensitive systems automatically heat and cool the facility.

Windsor Marketing also uses environmentally friendly, soy-based and UV-based inks to lessen toxic emissions. All plates used in the company's printing process are recycled, and 80 percent of paper it uses is Forest Stewardship Council certified, meaning it's sourced from responsibly managed forests.

Windsor Marketing is also in the planning stages of siting a fuel cell that will allow it to produce power and heat for its facility.

Regional School District No. 8

Town: Hebron

Sector: School

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; innovation

Regional School District No. 8, which includes RHAM high and middle schools, took several steps to reduce its energy consumption and costs during calendar year 2016.

The district replaced over 4,000 light fixtures with new high-efficiency LED technologies and reduced lighting electricity consumption by more than half, which is expected to save $86,000 a year.

The district also retro-commissioned all of its HVAC systems at its high school and middle school facilities. Energy efficiency equipment upgrades were added to better control heating and air conditioning, which will reduce annual electricity and fossil fuel costs by over $36,000 in the first year.

Last fall, the district also installed an electricity interval monitoring system in coordination with Eversource and a third-party service provider, which allows it to obtain real-time electricity usage data for the schools and proactively manage power use.

The district is also building a 44-kilowatt solar array at its middle school, which will join a 190-kilowatt array at the adjacent high school.

Grace Farms Foundation

Town: New Canaan

Sector: Government/Institutional

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; material management/recycling; innovation; civic improvements; and water

Grace Farms is owned and operated by the Grace Farms Foundation, which purchased the 80-acre parcel in 2008 to preserve it.

About 77 acres are retained in perpetuity as open space, and the property contains over 900 trees, three ponds, 10 habitats and 40 bird species.

The acreage includes a unique architectural feature known as the "River" building, a winding structure constructed with sustainability measures, including 55, 500-foot deep geothermal wells that were dug to facilitate energy-efficient heating and cooling. The building was also designed to meet LEED standards in high-efficiency mechanical, electrical, plumbing and lighting systems. Additional efficiency measures included sourcing recycled and regional materials, as well as re-purposing wood felled on-site to construct furniture.

The foundation also hosts various educational programs to teach children and adults about environmental sustainability. In addition, Grace Farms has an organic community garden that provides fruits and vegetables for its kitchen, 200 pounds of which has been donated to a local charity.

In 2017, the foundation plans to utilize wind power and be 100 percent water bottle free.

God is Green

Town: Orange/Bridgeport

Sector: Business/Industry and Individual/Group

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; innovation; and water

"God is Green," was a collaboration between United Illuminating, Energize Connecticut, the Environmental Protection Agency and the city of Bridgeport.

Launched in June 2015, the initiative aimed to help houses of worship become more environmentally conscious and friendly by educating them about energy efficiency as outlined in Energy Star's action workbook for congregations.

Over the 14 months that followed, the 19 participating houses of worship in Bridgeport received Energy Star benchmarking assessments at no-charge from energy consultant Paguridae LLC.

During that period, 47 energy-efficiency improvements were installed or scheduled to be installed.

Additionally, as part of the Energize Connecticut initiative, the Small Business Energy Advantage (SBEA) program and Connecticut Green Bank's Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program have provided the houses of worship with access to capital to make energy saving improvements.

Due to this partnership, one house of worship earned Energy Star certification in 2016. Following the efforts in Bridgeport, similar programs have been launched in New Haven and Hartford.

Repair Cafe

Town: Willimantic/Chaplin

Sector: Individual/Group

Sustainability Components: Material management/recycling; innovation

For the last three years a multi-member coalition has teamed up to host "Repair Cafes," which promote recycling and sustainability.

Inspired by an international movement that began in Holland in 2009, the Repair Cafe concept has spread across the European Union and United States, but there is only one known effort in Connecticut.

The effort was launched by members of a Storrs-Mansfield grassroots group, Access Agency's Windham Area Hour Exchange and the First Congregational Church of Willimantic.

The first Connecticut Repair Cafe was held in 2014 at the Willimantic church. It encourages sustainability and re-use/recycling of materials by teaching attendees how to repair items, with the goal of keeping goods in use and out of waste streams and incinerators.

With little advertising, 120 individuals, including 88 senior citizens, attended the repair event last year. Of the 152 items they brought with them, 71 percent were successfully repaired and 14 percent were partially repaired.

Joseph E. Newsome, Omni Development Corp.

Town: Waterbury

Sector: Government/Institutional

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; and water

The Warner Gardens Co-Op Apartments (now renamed Davis Gardens Apartments) in Waterbury were once debilitated and facing a foreclosure sale.

Omni Development Corp. has since acquired the property, and working with Eversource and Energize Connecticut's new construction program, rebuilt the 58-unit complex to achieve Energy Star certification.

The project's energy efficient components include:

• High-performance natural gas furnaces and tankless on-demand water heaters

• High-performance central air conditioning

• Comprehensive water management system to protect roofs, walls and foundations

• Energy Star windows and lighting to achieve operational savings

• Quiet, efficient bath fans and air-quality control for healthier air, reduced moisture, improved comfort

All tenants pay their own utilities and will see an estimated $810 in annual savings per unit as a result of the energy efficiency upgrades.

Town of North Haven's Clean Energy Task Force

Town: North Haven

Sector: Government/Institutional, School, Individual/Group

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; innovation; civic improvements; and water

The town of North Haven and its Clean Energy Task Force worked with United Illuminating and Johnson Controls to implement $6 million in town-wide energy improvements. The town will repay the cost for the work over the next 18 years using money saved by the upgrades.

North Haven received a rebate check of $864,242 for the energy-saving incentives it has undertaken, and has pledged to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent and increase its use of renewable energy by 20 percent by 2018.

The work included new steam traps at Montowese School; new high-efficient exhaust fans, dehumidification units, unit ventilators and a new water-cooled chiller at Clintonville School; and unit ventilators at Green Acres School. All of the local schools got a new web-based, temperature-control system and new lighting.

The town hall and town hall annex got new temperature sensors, a temperature-control system and lighting, and the police department, about to undergo an extensive renovation project, will have two new boilers installed, as well as a temperature-control system and new lighting.

Among several other efforts, North Haven has replaced all the bulbs in its 3,700 streetlights with LED lights and purchased and is installing free electric car charging stations. North Haven has also embraced the use of solar panels on its landfill. In addition, 24 percent of the homes in town have had a free energy audit and have made energy improvements.

The town has also installed a cogeneration system in the town pool, which produces electricity and uses the waste heat to heat the pool and showers.

City of Meriden

Town: Meriden

Sector: Government/Institutional

Sustainability Components: Material management/recycling; civic improvements; and water

The city of Meriden has experienced flooding associated with its Harbor Brook since the mid-1800s. In the mid-1990s, the city decided to address the problem after experiencing over $25 million in flood damages in its downtown.

The city council formed the Flood Control Implementation Agency to develop and implement improvements along the 3.5 mile length of Harbor Brook and they pushed for the construction of two stormwater detention basins, including one built in the heart of downtown on a brownfield site.

Work on the 14-acre site, known as the Meriden Green, included managing over 80,000 tons of urban fill, removing hazardous waste and creating a green space with walking trails for use during non-flooding times.

Today, the site includes walking trails, an amphitheater, a 300-foot long bridge that crosses the parcel from east to west, two low bridges that cross Harbor Brook just above the water surface elevation, site lighting, irrigation and a wide variety of trees and plants. To date, ducklings and killdeer birds have been born on the site and fish can be seen in the new channel.

The project aimed to address the flood issues while also spurring economic development. It has led to the completion of a $40 million mixed-use development and there are several other projects in the pipeline.

Wolcott Public Schools and ECSU's Institute for Sustainable Energy

Town: Wolcott

Sector: School

Sustainability Components: Facility-wide initiatives; energy and climate change; and material management/recycling

Wolcott Public Schools began an energy efficiency initiative in 2012 that has led to a savings of more than $200,000 a year between 2012 and 2016, and total electric savings of more than 16 million kilowatt hours.

Wolcott is moving toward being a Green LEAF school, which is a sustainability program in which schools teach environmental and sustainability education.

The school district's 2016 achievements include:

• Hosting a district-wide "Tools for Schools" refresher course to help maintain indoor air quality in buildings

• Completing Energy Star Portfolio Manager Benchmarking for all schools working with the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU)

• Applying for Energy Star certification for all five schools

• Installing new outdoor LED lighting at the high school and Alcott Elementary school, including pole light fixtures, wall packs and rear spot lights

• Installing new LED lighting in the high school auditorium, converting 45, 400 watt fixtures to 18 watt fixtures, greatly reducing kilowatt load from 18,000 to 810 watts. n

GreenCircle 2017 Judges

Sharon Lewis, Executive Director, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice

Jack Looney, Staff Attorney, Connecticut Fund for the Environment

Matt Hart, Manager, Town of Mansfield

Faith Gavin Kuhn, Owner, FGK Communications LLC

Adam Ney, Outreach & Engagement Team, Connecticut Business and Industry Association

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