The Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence were presented this week to honor seven recipients for extraordinary initiatives in protecting the environment. Commissioner Pigott and Rebecca Holwerda, Senior Policy Director for Governor Eric Holcomb, presented the awards during the 21st annual Pollution Prevention Conference and Tradeshow held at the Marriott North in Indianapolis.

Locally, in the category of Energy/Renewable Resources:
• Michigan City Area Schools, Michigan City, LaPorte County, for “ Michigan City Area Schools Solar and LED Lighting Project 2017.” After completion of a guaranteed energy savings project, Michigan City Area Schools (MCAS) decided to further reduce their energy costs using solar power and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting upgrades. The district selected Performance Services to implement a second guaranteed energy savings project that is reducing overall electricity consumption at seven buildings by 52 percent, saving the district a guaranteed amount of $704,672 annually. Ground-mounted solar arrays and LED lighting were installed at three elementary schools, two middle schools, Michigan City High School and the administration building. In addition, a customized solar curriculum program developed by the National Energy Education Development Project and sponsored by Performance Services was implemented at MCAS for use in classrooms across the district as a component of the project.
In the category of Land Use/Conservation:
• Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Valparaiso, Porter County for “Little Calumet River Corridor.” Historically, the Little Calumet River watershed included abundant, healthy wetland areas which performed important hydrological and ecological functions. Shirley Heinze Land Trust, with the support of more than 30 partner agencies and organizations, successfully spearheaded an effort to attain the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust Conservation Area designation. This project has helped to mitigate existing habitat fragmentation and advance a broader conservation vision. Restoration of these areas has enhanced the quality of local waterways and contributed to good storm water management for the community. As a part of this project, a significant portion of the 12-mile waterway was opened for public recreation. Fall 2017 was the first time in over three decades that paddlers could freely use the waterway.

Environmental Outreach/Education:

LaPorte County Health Department for “LaPorte County Property Transfer Ordinance.” The remarkable outreach and education program created by the LaPorte County Health Department was geared towards passing an ordinance that would require inspection of a septic system prior to the selling/transfer of a property. Prior to passing of the ordinance, the health department held numerous public outreach events to educate the public and businesses on the importance of this issue.

• Town of Merrillville, Merrillville, Lake County, for “High-density polyethylene (HDPE) Recycled Stormwater Infrastructure Pipe Standards” The Merrillville Stormwater Utility implemented a new standard for town-owned stormwater infrastructure projects by incorporating pipe that contains at least 40% recycled HDPE material and meets strict American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ standards. There were several projects that were completed with these standards, including the pilot project which was conducted at 58th Place and Vermont Street. The town is currently designing projects that will invest over two million dollars in improvements and have a master plan that will require over 25 million dollars in infrastructure. All of these projects will utilize the new recycled pipe standards.