Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Dominion Energy, PA Environmental Council Recognize Winners Of Western PA Environmental Awards

On June 24, two environmental projects and a community leader from the Western Pennsylvania area will share $15,000 from
Dominion Energy and the PA Environmental Council for outstanding contributions to the environment.
The 2020 winners of the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards are: Allegheny College, Meadville, Crawford County; Organic Climbing/Nittany Mountain Works, Philipsburg, Centre County; and Kenneth J. Rice, Sr., New Castle, Lawrence County

The Awards are presented annually to those who demonstrate leadership, effectiveness, and results in making an impact on the environment. 

These three awardees were selected by a group of independent judges, environmental experts, and PEC staff in response to a call for nominations earlier this year.

The winning programs reflect many of the environmental priorities of this region as they address energy and climate issues, land conservation, sustainable land use, and environmental stewardship throughout Western Pennsylvania.

With these awards, each winner will designate a $5,000 cash prize to be used in support of a nonprofit environmental program of their choice.

Here is more on the winners.

Allegheny College

This year, Allegheny College, Crawford County, became the first college campus in Pennsylvania to become carbon neutral, and only the eighth campus in the United States to meet this goal.

Allegheny has completed annual greenhouse gas inventories, developed a Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020, taken action to mitigate its environmental impact in daily operations and capital projects, and integrated environmental awareness and sustainability principles into the culture of campus life, the curriculum, and its institutional identity.

All told, the campus reduced its carbon footprint by nearly half, even as it grew in total square footage of building space. 

It shifted away from carbon-based fossil fuels by installing solar photovoltaic and luminescent solar concentrator panels on campus to generate renewable energy; installed three geothermal well-fields; and purchased wind-generated renewable energy credits.

Allegheny College has engaged more than 7,000 enrolled students and hundreds of faculty and employees through annual events and a myriad of education campaigns including signage, social media, and behavior change programs.

Contact: Kelly Boulton, Director of Sustainability, Allegheny College, 814-282-1970  or 814-789-3072, 

Organic Climbing/Nittany Mountain Works

Organic Climbing/Nittany Mountain Works (NMW), Centre County, is an outdoor gear manufacturer that demonstrates environmentally-friendly business practices, including running its factory on 100% solar power. 

They are a leader in sustainable manufacturing that is helping bring jobs to a rural community in decline and exemplifies that renewable energy is feasible, affordable, and efficient.

In 2018, when its business growth required more space, Organic/NMW moved into a new building with 5,000 square feet of solar panels on the roof. The building ironically sits on top of an abandoned strip mine. Today, Organic/NMW runs its workshop on 100% solar power, even generating enough to sell back to the utility grid every month.

To date, the company’s energy and environmental impact includes 80,076 kWh of solar-generated electricity and the elimination of 54 tons of CO2 from the environment per year.

Contact: Josh Helke, Owner Organic Climbing, 651-245-1079,

Kenneth J. Rice, Sr.

Kenneth J. Rice Sr. has been the driving force behind the redevelopment of abandoned properties in the City of New Castle, Lawrence County, and transforming them into a vibrant community garden creating a positive, far-reaching ripple effect throughout the community.

His efforts have led to the removal of trash, debris, and brush and replaced them with sustainable community gardens.

Approximately seventy families have received free produce from the garden -- fruits and vegetables produced without chemical fertilizers, irrigation systems, or manure spreading and requiring no transportation. 

Soil is being fortified with compost produced onsite, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers and reducing the amount of debris that might otherwise be going to a landfill.

Mr. Rice has demonstrated how to return a blighted trash filled neighborhood dump to safe and productive use, and provide food to needy families with nothing more than his own two hands and the help of neighbors, friends, and volunteers.

Contact: Kenneth J. Rice, Lower East Side Community Garden Coordinator, 724-652-5144, 

The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards program is open to individuals, businesses, and organizations that demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence, leadership and accomplishment, and made significant contributions toward improving Western Pennsylvania’s environment. 

Dominion Energy and the PA Environmental Council sponsor the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards each year to encourage the community to emulate the achievements of the winning entries, thereby promoting innovative environmental efforts and enhancing the quality of life in Western Pennsylvania.

Virtual Awards Ceremony Nov. 14

The winners of the 2020 Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards will be honored at a virtual awards ceremony on November 14, 2020. Details for registration and participation will be announced later this summer.

For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, PEC Bill/Regulation Tracker, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.

[Posted: June 24, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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