Gov. Paul LePage handed out the state's first environmental achievement awards since 2005, honoring six organizations with the Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence at a recent ceremony in Gorham.
"For many Maine employers, Earth Day isn't just one day a year, but a constant commitment to stewarding our natural resources and ensuring a sustainable economy," said LePage in a press release. "These Governor's Award winners illustrate the interdependence of Maine's economy and the environment and why the choice between the two should never be 'either or' because it must always be 'both.'"
Businesses with more than 100 employees: Idexx of Westbrook was chosen for its commitment to sustainability. The company has reduced operating cost per square foot over the last five years, curtailing the amount of waste bound for landfills to 6% and grown hundreds of pounds of food through the company's campus gardening program.
Businesses with more than 50 employees: CLYNK of South Portland was chosen for helping Mainers to recycle nearly 300 million returnable containers since 2006. The company launched a program this year allowing customers to track the environmental impact of their recycling efforts.
Businesses with more than 15 employees: George R. Roberts Co. in Alfred, a manufacturer of precast concrete products, has embraced sustainable energy solutions in its business practices, activating Maine's largest solar array to produce 90% of its power. The solar panel produced 244,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and accounted for a 10,000-ton annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Business with fewer than 15 employees: Maine Energy Systems of Bethel, which sells wood pellets and boilers, has helped Maine homeowners, public facilities and businesses to lower energy costs by half while embracing a sustainably-harvested, clean-burning fuel. The company also helps to create jobs in the state's forest products industry.
Public sector: The Washington County Council of Governments' county-wide brownfields program has helped to clean up abandoned sites in a region dependent on the health of its natural resources. Over the last three years, the organization has conducted environmental assessments at 11 sites leading to the subsequent redevelopment of five sites, which have the potential to create up to 50 new full-time jobs and increase property value by over $4 million.
Nonprofit: The Environmental Living & Learning for Maine Students Project in Wiscasset, a partnership among the Chewonki Outdoor Classroom for Schools, Ferry Beach Ecology School and the UMaine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond and at Tanglewood, was launched in 2011. ELLMS helps to subsidize residential environmental education for nearly 2,000 Maine students. Schools are able to apply for grants to send students to any of the four partner programs for experiential environmental learning.