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April 14, 2010

Second annual Earth Day Awards program held

COLUMBIA - A city police department, a county school district, several businesses, a non-profit and a church were recognized at the second annual Earth Day Awards program held today by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“The Earth Day Awards recognize individuals, families, communities, businesses and organizations that take actions everyday to help protect South Carolina’s environment through ‘green’ practices such as recycling, energy and water conservation as well as pollution prevention,” said DHEC Commissioner Earl Hunter. “The 2010 Earth Day Award winners perfectly reflect the spirit of the award - each of us doing our part to make a difference.”

The 2010 award winners are: City of Charleston Police Department; Charleston County School District; Bridgestone’s Aiken County plant; Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation in Cherokee County; Friends of Hunting Island State Park in Beaufort County; Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Horry County; and St. John’s Lutheran Church in Oconee County.

The Charleston Police Department was recognized for implementing a vehicle use and fuel reduction policy designed to lower the cost of operations. The department has saved about 3,800 gallons of gasoline per month. The more than 45,000 gallons of gasoline saved for the year has the environmental equivalency of eliminating 405 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Charleston County School District was honored for its “Energy Conservation Rebate Program.” The program, started in the 2008-2009 school year, encourages schools to reduce their energy usage with the incentive of not only reducing their carbon footprint, but also receiving 20 cents for every dollar saved. The total savings earned in the first year was $235,000 with 32 of the district’s 79 facilities receiving rebates. Based on this success, interest and participation in the program have grown in the second year.

Bridgestone’s Aiken County plant was honored for its comprehensive approach to environmental stewardship. The plant introduced new technology that reduced emissions, converted its facility maintenance equipment to 20 percent biodiesel, converted 26 forklifts to hydrogen or fuel cell power and reduced water use. The plant attained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for its energy and environmental efficiency programs - becoming just one of two tire plants in the nation with LEED certification.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation of Gaffney was recognized for its ambitious waste reduction and recycling program that resulted in the company achieving its zero waste goal in October 2009 - three months ahead of schedule. The company, which began its “Zero Waste to the Landfill” initiative in 2007, recycled about 300 tons of cardboard, 300 tons of metal, 42 tons of plastic and 1,380 tons of wood in 2009. Freightliner promotes its zero waste program by working with local and state governments, businesses and vendors. In addition, Freightliner serves as an environmental mentor for schools in the community.

The non-profit, volunteer organization Friends of Hunting Island State Park was honored for its year-round efforts to preserve and enhance the unique biodiversity of South Carolina’s 5,000-acre semi-tropical barrier island state park. Key programs include the annual “Earth Day Beach Sweep” and the Ocean Conservancy’s “International Coastal Cleanup” as well as daily beach clean-up walks. In addition, the organization has a monofilament recovery and recycling program. The fishing line, which is a major threat to sea life, is collected at 12 sites at the park and recycled into new line and new spools. The organization also supports community events to support environmental stewardship.

Ocean Lakes Family Campground was recognized for the introduction of its “iCare Program” in 2009. The program, designed to reduce the environmental impact from its guests and its operations, began by targeting pet waste and litter with the goals of reducing pollution in storm water as well as protecting sea life. Guests were given an “iCare Kit” to properly manage pet waste as well as bags and gloves to help pick up any litter. The facility also developed a successful recycling program - setting up “iCare Recycle Stations” throughout the campground. Just in the last half of 2009, more than 59,000 pounds of material were recycled. Ocean Lakes also has developed energy and water conservation programs.

St. John’s Lutheran Church of Walhalla was honored for expanding its stewardship program that began in 2008 and has impacted not only the church, but the community as well. St. John’s not only teaches, but implements “green” practices. The church encourages members to bring coffee cups to eliminate the use of Styrofoam cups, as well as reusable bags and insists that groups use reusable plates and dinnerware. St. John’s began a recycling program that has resulted in members doing more recycling at home. The church also organized a group to offer green information to other congregations in the area.


For more information:
Richard Chesley (803) 896-4209
Stacey Gardner (803) 898-3300
Thom Berry (803) 898-3885