On April 26th, PEC honored the recipients of the Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence at the PEC Harrisburg Dinner. This was the first in-person presentation of the awards in two years, and awardees from 2020, 2021, and 2022 were invited to celebrate their accomplishments.
The evening began with a reception where guests could browse awardee display tables and learn about the winning projects. After the reception, PEC President Davitt Woodwell gave opening remarks and DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell gave the Keynote speech.
Winning projects addressed a range of environmental issues, from environmental education to sustainable land use. Read on to learn about some of the winners from each year and view a slideshow of their projects. Information on all winners from the past three years can be found here.
Since 2018, the Penn State Master Watershed Stewards have held a contest for artists to paint educational murals around storm drains in York, PA. The murals help educate the public on their stormwater system, since it isn’t always clear that stormwater entering drains in York goes directly into the nearest water bodies without treatment. Since the program began, fifteen murals have been installed around storm drains in high-traffic areas.
The Etna Riverfront Trail and Park is a 470-foot-long sliver of formerly industrial land that has been transformed into a public park and trail. It provides the first public access to Etna’s riverfront along the Allegheny River in 100 years. Despite its limited space, the park includes a covered pavilion, a stage, rain gardens, native plant and animal habitat, and an overlook. Additionally, the trail created a critical link to the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail and the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.
Since 2017, Riverfront North Partnership has been working to restore riparian forest at a former garbage dump near the confluence of Pennypack Creek and the Delaware River. They have engaged the community to plant over 1,300 native trees, remove invasive species, and restore riverfront trail access.
Completed in Fall 2020, the project restored and stabilized the Wissahickon Headwaters stream channel in Upper Gwynedd Township, Montgomery County, and reconnected it with its floodplain. This will reduce erosion, flooding, and pollution from stormwater runoff and help improve the health of Wissahickon Creek.
Forest Hills replaced its aging and inefficient municipal building with a new building that incorporated sustainable design principles. In addition to more functional working spaces and offices, the new municipal building incorporates rooftop solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, rain gardens, recycled and natural construction materials, and sand and limestone runoff infiltration beds. The solution is not only better for the environment but saves Forest Hills hundreds of dollars on utilities annually due to their net-zero energy use.
Since the project began in 2016, Pittsburgh International Airport has housed honeybee colonies on its over 8,000 acres of property. The airport property is well suited for honeybee habitat due to lack of pesticides and plentiful pollinator-friendly vegetation. By providing land for apiaries, Pittsburgh International has reduced the number of bee swarms impacting airport operations, participated in research on honeybee health, and cultivated honey for sale.