Leading in a Pandemic

By Steve Adubato, PhD

​Like everyone else in the COVID-19 nightmare we are living, I am deeply concerned, feeling anxious, and worried about my family and those closest to me and not sure how to manage and deal with this terrible pandemic and everything connected to it. I have been teaching, coaching, writing about and most of all thinking about leadership and communication for a solid two decades. I have written 5 books on these subjects, and I can fill another book with everything I either don’t know or am uncertain about in terms of how best to lead and communicate in really difficult, challenging and uncertain times. That’s why I wanted to write this column.

The one thing I have come to understand is that whether it is COVID-19 or any other “crisis” that shakes us to our core—one of the most important things we can do is be useful and helpful to others. It’s not that the greatest leaders aren’t scared. They are. It is that they don’t let that fear and anxiety paralyze them.

It seems to me that the most effective leaders are the ones who understand and acknowledge their anxiety and insecurities in the midst of a crisis like this—but also know that they have a larger responsibility to the people they serve. The best leaders in a serious crisis need to be a better version of themselves and reach deep inside to do the kinds of things that give others direction, a sense of hope and, most of all, create a level of trust—because that is at the core of leadership and how we communicate. With this in mind, consider the following:

–When communicating in any public forum, leaders must be truthful and candid. This is easier said than done, because many leaders, in the effort to give people “hope”, sugar coat how serious things really are or make statements that can’t be backed up by facts, science or reality. Giving false hope and communicating misinformation is one of the worst things any leader can do in a crisis or pandemic like we are currently facing.

–Be concise. Don’t drone on. Don’t pontificate. I like to say “stay within the goalposts” when communicating. That means, identify what key points and messages a leader needs to communicate and put them “inside the goalposts”. Everything outside that goalposts is dangerous and risky. So what is outside the goalposts? Blaming others. Pointing fingers. Name calling. Making statements you can’t back up. And, frankly, letting your emotions and fear get the best of you. The greatest leaders in a crisis are disciplined and practice self-control, because when a leader communicates that he or she is “out of control”, what impact do you think it has on everyone else?

–The greatest leaders step aside and let others who are more knowledgeable in a particular subject area step up and speak out. The best leaders are not the ones who “talk the most” in a public forum or press conference. It seems to me NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and NJ Governor Phil Murphy get this part right. Yes, they are talking a lot, but they are also deferring and “handing the ball off” to other experts (Particularly about public health.) who can speak with authority and experience on a particular topic. After 9/11, it struck me that then NY City Mayor Rudy Giuliani did this. Great leaders are “facilitators” in public settings, allowing others to fill in the blanks and respond to difficult and specific questions. They are not the people who are supposed to know the most…about everything.

–The best leaders are also the ones who when they do say something that is either incorrect or needs clarification, has the self-confidence and level of maturity to allow a subject area expert to correct or clarify something that is said in public—without any retribution or negative consequences.

–Leaders should never lose their cool. When asked a difficult or challenging question by a reporter or key stakeholder in a public forum, there is no excuse for a leader to attack the questioner. The best leaders understand that attacking the questioner as well as the question itself actually communicates a lack of confidence, because the leader clearly doesn’t want to and can’t answer the question. If the answer is “I don’t know,” or, “We should have handled that better,” just say so. It doesn’t help anyone to express anger or personal animus toward someone simply asking a tough question. Leaders are supposed to respond with confidence, clarity and a sense of “I’ve got this”, as opposed to “how dare you ask me that question in public”, particularly when the question relates to the crisis at hand.

–Great leaders acknowledge and empathize with the pain and struggle people are experiencing in a public health crisis. Simply stating “here are the rules—obey them”, won’t get things done. The best leaders understand that social distancing and “staying in your house” is unnatural, not easy and incredibly difficult for parents to explain not just to themselves, but to teenagers and children. I appreciate and respect leaders who acknowledge that and say so publicly. So, on one hand, leaders should communicate accurate facts, statistics and information as well as “the rules” we must abide by, but if that is all a leader does in public, why not just send a mass e-mail?

–The best leaders communicate in a human and compassionate fashion. In the case of the COVID-19, they get that beyond the numbers of those infected and worse, those who have died, that those numbers represent real people and families. I’m not saying that being a great leader and communicator in a horrific pandemic is easy, it’s not. Trust me, I struggle every day with it, and I only run a small production company as well as teach, coach and write about these topics. However, I have been spending a lot of time reading about presidential leadership in war time in an effort to put things in perspective. And whether it is Lincoln, Roosevelt or LBJ, it is clear that they had their doubts and fears, but the greatest leaders have one common and consistent trait, which is that they manage and deal with these inner fears and demons because they understand that their greatest responsibility is to help others get through the most challenging of times.

–Stay connected with your team and key stakeholders. Whether it is your employees, board of trustees, community or other people in your orbit, the best leaders create opportunities to connect with their team and to be present, if not in person, then remotely. Technology offers a great opportunity to remain connected and in touch with others who are undoubtedly worried about their family, career, friends, 401K and health. Remaining connected with your key stakeholders with regular and consistent updates, as well as asking what they may want or need, is critically important for every leader. These open lines of communication reinforce trust and help ease some of the anxiety and fear they may feel during these very uncertain and scary times.

​As always, e-mail your feedback to [email protected] On behalf of my colleague Mary Gamba and everyone on the Lessons in Leadership team: STAY SAFE. STAY HOME. BE WELL.

Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Programs: Relevant for a Brighter Future

By Anthony Russo, President, CIANJ

In this issue, we are showcasing extraordinary efforts in recycling; pollution prevention programs; green building design; solar investments; environmental and energy conservation; ecology (water, plants, animals, insects); community impact and employee participation; process and manufacturing innovations; “green” leadership; and brownfield redevelopment.

These award-winning efforts, selected for CIANJ/COMMERCE environmental leadership awards, were compiled before the COVID-19 virus shut down much of the economy and forced businesses to face uncertainty and a new normal—seemingly in slow motion.

But the lights will come back on, and it remains relevant to highlight New Jersey firms that understand that going green is a way to do well by doing good, with commitments to environmental stewardship, sustainability, energy conservation and recycling. In recognition of these contributions, CIANJ/COMMERCE presents the following award-winning New Jersey companies and their green initiatives and programs.

AnythingIT LLC

By David Bernstein, CEO

Since 1992, AnythingIT, LLC has been dedicated to upholding safe, ethical and globally responsible standards for e-waste recycling, refurbishment and regulatory-compliant data destruction. As the first company to ever receive a U.S. Government contract for IT asset disposition services (ITAD) in 2002, we have prevented the export of millions of pounds of illegal hazardous e-waste to developing nations. E-waste contains toxic metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium, as well as toxic organic chemicals such as brominated flame retardants. These poisons can find their way into our landfills if we are not careful about how, and with whom, we recycle our electronic waste. Our mission is to create a safe, green and just world through sharing and using principled and practical standards for electronics recycling and reuse. This practice is delivered as solutions to our federal, state, local, education and healthcare IT organizations.

Cole Schotz P.C.

By Emily Lamond, Esq., Member

As an attorney with experience as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences, I help businesses address regulations requiring assessment, and possibly investigation and remediation, of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). As co-founder of the PFAS taskforce of NAIOP’s Regulatory Affairs Committee, I also lead the effort to assemble experts across disciplines, and author and disseminate publications to New Jersey commercial real estate professionals. Through this endeavor, business leaders may strategically manage and navigate the evolving scientific and regulatory landscape, including compliance with any future remediation standards, and continue to flourish while mitigating risk associated with PFAS.

CSG

By Dennis M. Toft, Esq., Chair, Environmental Group

CSG’s attorneys have long been at the forefront of environmental policy in New Jersey. I have had the great honor of being called upon by governors, legislators and the NJDEP to provide my perspective during the development and adoption of the New Jersey Brownfields and Contaminated Site Reform Act, the Site Remediation Reform Act and the recent amendments thereto and related regulations. I am also on the Executive Board of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, spearheading environmental issues. John Valeri, Practice Group Leader of CSG’s Environmental Group, is the chairman of the New Jersey Clean Air Council. I am also proud to share that my colleagues Diana Buongiorno, Robert Crespi and David Mairo have recently been elevated to leadership roles with NAIOP-NJ, the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast and the Meadowlands Chamber, respectively—demonstrating the firm’s deep commitment to helping shepherd forward-thinking, fair and sustainable legislation and environmental protection initiatives to the benefit of New Jersey’s residents and business community.

EAI Inc.

Robert Carvalho, PG, President and CEO

Through partnership with developers, EAI has been actively involved in the redevelopment of two New Jersey properties: the old Honeywell site in Jersey City and the Harrison waterfront redevelopment. EAI’s proactive design/build approach to vapor intrusion mitigation allows for fast-track redevelopment, while helping to avoid future litigation and contaminants migrating into the buildings. This is accomplished via an air-tight gas vapor barrier and sub-slab gas collection system being integrated into the buildings’ foundations, protecting both indoor air quality and human health. We are proud to be part of these projects from start to finish and to be able to ensure a safe and habitable dwelling for New Jersey residents.

Envision Environmental, Inc.

Mark Roman, President

Due diligence, which protects all participants in a real estate transaction, often creates significant cost savings, liberating capital for new acquisitions. Envision Environmental, Inc. conducted due diligence at a recently closed 12-acre manufacturing facility, and found puzzling results from soil, ground water and soil gas samples. Further investigation with real-time multi-media delineation using a mobile laboratory and membrane interface probe drilling enabled quick and accurate identification of the contamination and the impact on the property. Prior to our investigation, the buyer wanted $10 million in reserve funding available for any post-closing remediation and the transaction had to be completed within six months. Our unique approach provided a realistic cost estimate for remediation (within a tight timeframe), which satisfied everyone involved. As a result, the buyer reduced their reserve funding requirement from $10 million to less than $3 million, adding $7+ million to our client’s bottom line. The total investigation cost was less than $450,000—a 1,455 percent ROI. 

Equity Environmental Engineering

Peter Jaran, PE, LSRP, Managing Director

Equity Environmental Engineering was part of a team of federal and state government, non-profit and private company stakeholders. The project was formalized due to the erosion caused by the effects of the dam on New Jersey’s Lamington River. The erosion had gotten to the point of threatening the road that crossed the river and neighboring properties. The team was involved in the design, permitting, and construction of the  removal of the dam, the creation of vernal pools for flood mitigation, the re-directing of the river channel, formation of fish habitat in the river and creation of an flood storage area in the old river channel.

Felician University

By Dr. Anne M. Prisco, President

Felician University launched an ambitious project in September 2019 to distribute cotton re-usable washable bags helping to reduce the number of plastic bags in the environment, an increasingly important goal, especially as numerous New Jersey municipalities are now moving to ban plastic bags. As part of the project, students work with Bergen and Passaic municipalities in distributing the bags at the Rutherford Farmers Market, Garfield Town Hall, Greater Bergen Community Action in Cliffside Park, Coffee with a Cop in Garfield, ShopRites in Lodi and Lyndhurst, among other places. Plans are in the works to increase the bag distribution to help address a critical environmental issue in a way that is convenient for shoppers and consumers and makes it easy to help change the world one bag at a time.”

Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis LLP

By David B. Farer, Esq., Co-Chair, Environmental Department; And Barbara J. Koonz, Esq., Chair, Energy, Renewable Resources & Sustainable Development Practice Group

Our Environmental Department continues to successfully navigate real estate development and manufacturing clients through complex remediation and redevelopment projects. We have also been expanding our focus on climate change, resiliency and renewable energy. On the renewable energy front, subsidy and tax benefit programs that advance commercial renewable energy projects are undergoing significant change. We guide our clients through this evolving regulatory landscape to ensure that solar energy projects secure eligible incentive program benefits, such as Transition Renewable Energy Certificates, Office of Clean Energy project grants and federal tax investment credits. On project permitting, the NJDEP’s Climate and Flood Resilience Program will drive continued changes in land use regulations that dramatically affect environmental permitting. Our familiarity with state objectives and our proven ability to work closely with the NJDEP position us to secure complex permitting for development projects consistent with state policies.

Hackensack Meridian Health

By Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO

Team member participation encompasses all aspects of sustainability, including; Green Team engagement across Hackensack Meridian Health, consisting of executive champions from each hospital; sustainability in system-wide committees such as the Human Experience Committee; operating room recycling initiatives; sustainable food programs; energy conservation; waste and chemical reduction; responsible purchasing; and energy and climate initiatives, which includes sitting on the steering committee for the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge for Healthcare. In addition, we expanded our community partnerships with Hackensack Riverkeeper and Clean Ocean Action, as well as New Jersey Natural Gas to reduce energy consumption. Sustainability is a strategic priority for me, supported by board members, team members, and medical students—embedded in our annual report and internal communications. It is viewed as an extension of our commitment to caring for our patients, team members and the communities we serve.

HOLES Infrastructure Solutions

By Steve Rich, President

Holes, a sister company to Steve Rich Environmental, has always strived to use the three “R’s”—Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The company is a leader in completing paving repair utilizing the customer’s own asphalt to complete repairs when available. Asphalt is the number one (by weight) recycled product in the world and we have six state-of-the-art infrared asphalt repair units. The overall process is very simple on the surface, yet complex when you get into the details. The areas to be repaired are heated to about 325 degrees, the infrared allows the deep penetration of the heat, without burning or scaling of the asphalt and its essential oils. In most cases, all the surrounding and repaired areas will use 100 percent of the asphalt with zero waste along with new asphalt to displace the areas where there is no asphalt (potholes etc). Rejuvenators are sometimes added to rejuvenate some oils, which the sun and traffic have depleted. Most of the time, this process generates zero waste as it is recycled. New York City has led the way with 100 percent recycled asphalt and allowing it on its roadways. More and more cities and property owners, in an effort to go green, are requiring in-house recycling on their projects. HOLES has the latest equipment to take all millings from a parking lot or roadway and create a 100 percent recycled asphalt product for customers that demand to meet the highest environmental standards possible. 

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L)

James V. Fakult, President and CEO

JCP&L is an environmentally conscious utility focused on developing sustainable practices and policies. In 2019, JCP&L created a best management practice to increase its recycling of materials. such as streetlamps, scrap electronics, steel, discarded wire, waste wood, oils, used tires, batteries and antifreeze. JCP&L collected and recycled more than 490 tons of paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, wood and cardboard; 7,900 pounds of e-waste; more than 15,000 pounds of dry batteries and lamps; and more than 60,000 pounds of used motor oil, antifreeze and crushed oil filters. As part of FirstEnergy’s Corporate Responsibility efforts, a Green Team, comprised of a diverse group of JCP&L employees, led by JCP&L President, Jim Fakult, was developed to drive sustainability throughout JCP&L’s service territory. JCP&L was also recognized for its continued focus on environmental awareness by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which named the company to its statewide Sustainable Business Registry.

Konica Minolta

By Rick Taylor, President and CEO

At Konica Minolta, we’re committed to building a sustainable future for our community and planet. Globally, we’re working toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while also following our environmental action plan, Eco Vision 2050. At Konica Minolta’s Ramsey, New Jersey U.S. corporate headquarters, we use solar energy to partially power our campus and have been doing so since 2013. We’re also actively involved in the community, regularly lending the talents and time of our passionate employees to volunteer with local environmental organizations, such as the MEVO and the NY/ NJ Trail Conference. The company is also committed to helping our customers reduce, reuse and recycle through initiatives such as our very own Clean Planet Program and as an EPA SmartWay partner. The company’s forward-thinking environmental actions have been recognized by many prestigious organizations. Most recently in 2020, we were named for the third time as one of the “100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World.”

LAN Associates

By Ken Karle, PE, AIA, PP, LEED AP, President

By using new technology for ground water remediation projects, our environmental scientists are working to retroactively “undo” past pollution. LAN Associates is assisting a private client with a 20-year-old gasoline spill that has had lasting impact on ground water near a school, despite multiple previous attempts by others to address the issue. We used in-situ chemical oxidation and enhanced bioremediation as the remedial action to address ground water contamination. The process uses chemicals to knock down high concentrations of contaminates, allowing naturally occurring biological processes to permanently remove those pollutants. The approach has reduced contaminant concentrations by up to 98 percent, moving the client closer to closing out this ground water contamination problem with NJDEP.

Matrix New World Engineering

By Jayne Warne, PE, President

In 2019, Matrix New World Engineering served as environmental consultant and LSRP for the City of Newark during the redevelopment of Newark’s Ironbound Football Stadium. For more than three decades, this Site was closed to the public due to historic PCB contamination. Working with the City of Newark, the NJDEP and the USEPA, Matrix oversaw the remediation and redevelopment of the field. The stadium, now transformed, is home to the East Side High School Red Raiders and a central hub for community recreation. With decades of environmental project experience, including identification of contamination sources and development constraints, Matrix expertise spans from the investigation of existing conditions, remedial investigations and remediation design, to treatment systems operation and construction oversight. Our clients include local redevelopers, Fortune 500 companies, and municipalities, and the result of these projects is on display throughout New Jersey where contaminated sites are being returned to beneficial use in local communities.

Montclair State University

By Dr. Susan A. Cole, President

MSU is situated on 486 acres in three different towns—Little Falls, Montclair and Clifton—with 22 residential buildings that house 5,200 students where the majority of the water use takes place. In 2019, the MSU Facilities Green Team randomly selected sinks and showers throughout the buildings and measured the flow rates of the original aerators and showers as well as three alternative treatments, analyzed the data, made recommendations and calculated a return on investment of approximately 63 days for 0.5 gpm aerators and 1.0 gpm showerheads. The Green Team calculated an expected savings of $313,334 and 39.2 million gallons of water over five years by switching to more efficient showerheads and faucet aerators. Facilities is replacing the fixtures now and implementing resident education. They will be analyzing water usage data for the spring and fall 2020 to determine actual savings compared to the previous year’s usage.

NJEDA

By Tim Sullivan, CEO

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is creating a pioneering brownfields program that offers resources to support investors, communities and municipal governments during the brownfield cleanup and revitalization process. The NJEDA is collaborating with the NJDEP to expand the Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI), which embeds NJDEP staff in targeted cities with multiple environmental stressors to provide hands-on support. This program emphasizes local input and partnerships to develop innovative solutions to complex environmental issues with the goal of revitalizing distressed cities. The NJEDA is partnering with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to create a Brownfield Assistance Center at NJIT to aid all local governments as they navigate complex environmental stressors and engage communities in the remediation process. Another pillar of the NJEDA’s distinctive program is a revolutionary brownfield loan program that provides low-interest loans for aspects of brownfield remediation that traditionally do not receive funding, such as for demolition, asbestos, PCBs and lead-based paint remediation. This holistic approach to brownfield remediation is setting New Jersey apart as a national leader and paving the way for transformative investments that will build vibrant communities across the state.

NJIT

By Dr. Colette Santasieri, Executive Director of the NJ Brownfields Assistance Center; and Executive Director, Planning Innovation for Civil Infrastructure and Environment

The NJ Brownfields Assistance Center @ NJIT is the first and only center focused on assisting New Jersey communities overcome their brownfields challenges. The Center provides free guidance and resources to New Jersey county and local government entities to help them navigate the brownfield redevelopment process, as well as educates and engages communities around brownfield issues. Its multi-disciplinary team of professionals (planners, engineers, environmental scientists and social scientists) view brownfields as opportunities to spur economic development, improve social equity and develop community-needed land uses such as housing and recreation. The Center brings tools, strategies, resources, partnerships, subject matter experts and education to brownfields-challenged communities. With such guidance, support and assistance, New Jersey can successfully transform their brownfield sites into community assets.

Peak Environmental LLC

By Kenneth L. Nieuwenhuis, LSRP, Partner, and Eric R. Schlauch CPG, LSRP, Partner

 As an environmental company, it is consistent with our mission to be present at community events that promote sustainability and environmental protection. We attended Clean Ocean Action’s Beach Clean-Up, which contributed largely to the smoking ban at New Jersey beaches; exhibited at Woodbridge Earth Day Fair and demonstrated to the public how to use rain barrels; and attended the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commission’s Regional Plastics and Networking Meeting. We attend Woodbridge Green Team meetings and have our own in-house Green Team. Our sustainable office practices include recycled paper; corn-based plastic cups; compostable and recycled paper cups; 100 percent recycled napkins; recycling cans; recycling plastic K-cups; sensor lights; waterline water dispenser; rechargeable batteries; a solar-powered storage container; and conducting quarterly waste audits. We are proud of our compost initiative and have composted 200 gallons of waste in the past year. We have also recently added a book exchange library.

PSEG

By Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and CEO

PSEG is uniquely positioned to protect the environment and respond to the challenge of climate change as our carbon emissions rate is already one of the lowest among the nation’s largest power producers. Our accomplishments include: in 2019, we announced our goal to further cut our PSEG Power fleet’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2046, from 2005 levels, and we believe, with the necessary advances in technology and public policy, we can achieve our vision of attaining net-zero carbon emissions from our PSEG Power fleet by 2050. In May 2014, PSE&G received BPU approval to embark on a $1.22 billion program to proactively protect and strengthen our electric and gas systems against severe weather conditions whereby we replaced vulnerable gas pipes, upgraded 29 substations and added intelligence to our system to speed restoration. Going back further, in 2002, PSEG joined the USEPA’s Climate Leaders Program and reduced its GHG emissions intensity by 31 percent from 2000 levels by 2008. Tackling climate change is so critical that our Board of Directors takes an active role in overseeing sustainability; environmental, social and governance (ESG).

Remington & Vernick Engineers, Inc.

By Edward Vernick, PE, CME, Principal and President

Bordentown City was required to close the water treatment plant’s sludge drying beds containing radioisotopes exceeding standards pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:28-12. The radioactivity originated from filter backwash precipitated to remove iron/manganese containing naturally occurring radioactive chemicals in wells screened in the Potomac formation/cretaceous clays/sediments. Guided by radioisotope field radiation microprocessors with the capability of detecting ionizing alpha, beta, gamma and X-ray radiation, RVE conducted extensive sludge and environmental sampling, 50 radioisotope analyses and 2,500 tests. Twenty-four computer models were utilized to support an in-place closure strategy consisting of removal of filter-backwash deposition hotspots, in combination with capping the remaining backwash materials. Over $1.2 million in offsite disposal costs were avoided by substituting a practical/innovative remedy protective of human health and the environment. Since regional water treatment plants draw water from the Potomac formation, project findings advance invaluable precedents for compliance with radiation cleanups.

Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP

By Steven T. Senior, Esq., Co-Chair, Environmental Law Group

Riker Danzig’s Environmental Law Group has helped to found and grow the New Jersey Composting Council (NJCC). The NJCC is an industry group supporting organics recycling in New Jersey; its membership includes many different businesses engaged in organics recycling, from large-scale anaerobic digesters to community composters. Riker Danzig represented the NJCC with respect to its formation, is a member and sponsor of the NJCC and has hosted several NJCC events at our offices. We also have helped to create a working group of stakeholders that advocate for improved laws and regulations impacting organics recycling in New Jersey. Riker Danzig attorney Matthew Karmel serves the NJCC as a founding Trustee and the first Chair of its Advocacy and Market Development Committee. With Matthew’s support and leadership, this Committee is engaged in advocacy efforts before both the New Jersey Legislature and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. 

SESI Consulting Engineers

By Fuad Dahan, PE, Senior Project Engineer

Over a decade in the making, SESI has been part of the team that transformed a contaminated property in Bridgewater, New Jersey, which was the site of several industrial and commercial activities, to be ready for an affordable housing complex. Adjacent to NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line, the property is approximately 18.6-acres and included warehouse and office buildings. SESI conducted the remedial remediation from the preliminary assessment until a soil remedial action outcome. The remedy included the excavation and disposal of 2,000 tons of hazardous soil, which resulted in an unrestricted clean-up for the soils. 

Stockton University

By Dr. Harvey Kesselman, President

An artistic mural of birds at Stockton University is saving the lives of migrating birds on the university’s 1,600-acre campus. A glass corridor that connects two buildings is striking—but not in a good way for birds, which sometimes die after colliding with the hard surface. A group of faculty and staff, ranging from scientists to graphic designers, created a vinyl mural of soaring birds that was installed on the glass walls to eliminate the reflections that cause birds to crash. Stockton photographer Susan Allen applied for and received a Stockton 2020 Strategic Plan grant to fund the project.

T&M Associates

By Gary Dahms, PE, PP, President, CEO and Chairman

Ocean County-based Little Egg Harbor has long been known as a desirable destination for both vacationers and permanent residents. However, flooding to the region wrought by severe storms, including Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy, has inflicted widespread damage and raised a need for significant environmental conservation efforts. T&M Associates, as municipal engineers, proposed a “living shoreline” project to ensure the future viability of coastal resources and mitigate future hazards. The Iowa Court and South Green Street project includes features that have eliminated shoreline erosion; restored and stabilized beaches, marsh and wildlife habitats; strengthened natural ecosystems; and protected adjacent properties and roads. An acre of salt marsh lost to erosion has been reclaimed, and a rock and bulkhead shelf has been constructed to safeguard the community.

T&M Associates

By Gary Dahms, PE, PP, President,CEO and Chairman

As one of the nation’s “Top 10 Main Streets,” Hoboken’s Washington Street is a historic and vibrant corridor through the city’s main business and residential districts. Decades of aging infrastructure and concerns about flooding and storm made it necessary to redesign the street implementing innovative green infrastructure. To reduce storm water overflow into the overburdened combined sewer system, runoff was taken offline and infiltrated into 15 new rain gardens. The “Complete Streets” approach included an environmentally friendly and sustainable design that met the needs of vehicles, mass transit, bicycles and pedestrians. The award-winning redesign encompassed upgraded LED lighting fixtures and infrastructure for an electrical microgrid for redundant power to essential facilities. The incorporation of green design in this revitalization project has resulted in a more resilient, safer street with reduced congestion and greater mobility.

Whitestone Associates, Inc.

By Thomas K. Uzzo, LSRP, President and CEO

Whitestone Associates, Inc. has specialized in brownfield assessment, remediation and redevelopment projects over its 25-year history. One recent example included the Wellmont Redevelopment project in Montclair, New Jersey. A Whitestone LSRP managed site characterization and remediation of multiple areas of environmental concern, including petroleum-impacted soil, underground storage tanks, sitewide historic fill material and remnant auto repair equipment. Several thousand tons of impacted material were managed off site to accommodate site redevelopment. Whitestone also provided geotechnical investigation, storm water management area evaluation, retaining wall and support of excavation design, vibration monitoring and construction phase testing and inspection services. The redeveloped site includes a six-story, mixed-use building with 220 residential units, 50,000 square feet of retail space, 20,000 square feet of art space, 20,oo000 square feet of office space, and a 200-vehicle parking structure. The public street at the center of the redevelopment will be transformed into a 15,000 square feet arts plaza.

William Paterson University

By Dr. Richard Helldobler, President

Our long-standing commitment to sustainability has yielded significant results through a wide variety of campus initiatives focused on conservation, efficiency and education. The university’s 3.1 MW solar panel installation ranks among the largest at a four-year institution in the United States and supplies 15 percent of our energy needs. Over the past decade, as the institution increased in size by 704,000 square feet, we lowered consumption of electricity by 30 percent, natural gas by 50 percent, and carbon emissions by 1,260 tons. Strategies include food waste composting, energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, recycling initiatives, resource conservation, electric charging stations and more. Recent building projects have earned a LEED Gold Award from the U.S. Green Building Council, three Green Building Design Awards, an USEPA recognition for carbon reduction and the 2020 Approaching Zero Sustainability Award. The institution is a signatory of the national Climate Leadership Network-Carbon Commitment. Our Sustainability Committee, comprised of faculty, staff, administrators and students, helps guide the university’s efforts.

NJ Environmental Projects Showcase the Success of Assessment and Remediation

Compiled by Martin C. Daks, Contributing Editor

Environmental awareness is at an all-time high, and New Jersey is at the forefront of the move to protect natural resources and the environment. COMMERCE spoke with experts to learn more about cleanup and remediation success stories.

AECOM

By Ray Hinkle, Principal Ecologist, Vice President, Business Development

For more than 25 years, AECOM has been working with PSEG Nuclear to restore tidal wetlands along the Delaware Bay as part of the PSEG Estuary Enhancement Program (EEP). A focus of the EEP has been the restoration of wetlands that had previously been diked by local salt hay farmers to grow and harvest salt hay. PSEG saw the opportunity to enhance the Delaware Bay ecosystem by restoring natural tidal flows to these areas, thereby increasing their contribution to the wetland and aquatic ecosystems of the Bay. As we helped to develop the EEP, we were careful to incorporate sound ecological engineering so the 6,000 acres of formerly diked wetlands in the program could be restored to a self-sustaining, natural condition, providing access to fish, maintaining native marsh vegetation and maintaining marsh elevations with anticipated sea  level rises. This has been achieved, as the tidal marsh vegetation has been restored as envisioned, native fish, birds and other wildlife have returned, and public access has been provided. AECOM continues to work with PSEG to maintain the EEP, which has been hailed as one of the largest and most successful tidal marsh restoration projects in the nation.

Brilliant Environmental

By Philip I. Brilliant, CHMM, LSRP, Owner/Principal Environmental Scientist

Toms River Township had taken over a family owned egg farm under eminent domain, with plans to turn it into open space. But the township was going to significantly reduce the purchase price of the 35-acre property because of necessary environmental remediation. The owner, however, had the option of calling in his own LSRP, and brought us in. During a six-week period in 2019, we completed the site remediation, the remedial action outcome, and the response action outcome, all at a considerably lower cost that enabled the property owner to pocket more money. The cleanup involved metals and base neutrals, asbestos remediation and the removal of solid waste from the property. The town is now in the process of tearing down the existing buildings and will deliver a nice parcel for residents to enjoy.

Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions Inc.

By Michele Christina, Co-Owner

The ABC Barrel Project in Camden is a great project in which Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions Inc. has been involved, on a site that was adjacent to my backyard. Anchored by a branch campus of Rutgers University on one end and waterfront views of Philadelphia on the other, the former ABC Barrel facility, was abandoned for decades despite being a seemingly prime piece of real estate in the heart of a waterfront neighborhood. BRS assisted the Camden Redevelopment Agency with facilitating the assessment, remediation and future redevelopment of this approximately one-acre site. Despite high demand evidenced by presales and full occupancy of surrounding residential development, the ABC Barrel site could not even be considered for development until the CRA was able to address the site’s contamination. It took years before the funding could be cobbled together for the cleanup. BRS assisted with obtaining various state and federal funding resources and served as LSRP of record for the site. A developer has been designated, and once redevelopment has been completed, there will be a new public park, ringed by newly constructed homes reflecting the historic Victorian character of the neighborhood.

Concrete Washout Systems

By Bill McGuire, Managing Director, McGuire Marketing, CWS Marketing Consultant

At $25 billion, New York City’s Hudson Yards mixed-use project is the most expensive real-estate development in U.S. history. It’s also one of the largest: once completed, the project will span more than 18 million square feet, including 14 acres of public space. Concrete Washout Systems helped by providing and servicing portable, self-contained and watertight roll-off bins that control, capture and contain washout material and runoff. Our system made it easy to wash out concrete trucks, pumps and equipment on-site and facilitates easy off-site recycling of the same concrete materials and wastewater. All washout water and slurry collected by CWS is 100 percent recycled. Concrete Washout Systems was able to help reduce operation costs by eliminating the wastewater and washout material from the jobsite, reducing exposure to very costly USEPA penalties and associated civil fines. The added bonus to New York City citizens is a significant reduction of urban runoff pollution, very common on construction sites, which would otherwise go directly into the storm drain and have a direct impact on local waterways and habitat living in the environment.

Creamer Environmental Inc.

By Tracy Straka, Executive Vice President

For more than a decade, Creamer Environmental has been remediating PCBs at up to six New York City public schools per year under a contract with the NYC School Construction Authority. The work takes place during a very tight timeframe: the summer break that typically runs from the end of June through the week before Labor Day, when no children are present. Besides the challenge of the tight timeframe, we have to coordinate our activities with multiple government agencies. Also, many of the schools are located in densely packed neighborhoods where it’s difficult, if not impossible, to bring in heavy equipment, so much of the labor has to be done by hand. One project involved remediating the grounds of an older school building in Queens that was contaminated when windows were replaced and pieces of the old caulk, which contained PCBs, fell and worked into the soil over a period of years. We excavated the surrounding land—by hand in the courtyard and with a mini-excavator adjacent to the building since we couldn’t fit heavy equipment in the work areas—to a predetermined depth. We also cordoned off an area for the contaminated soil to be safely moved through the school and placed into containers, staged in the street, for disposal. The labor-intensive activities continued as we placed clean fill and restored the landscaping by hand.

Equity Environmental Engineering

By Peter Jaran, PE, LSRP, Managing Director

Equity Environmental Engineering was called in when a Bergen County homeowner and his wife wanted to restore a portion of a brook on their property—which ran under and fed into a 1920s inground pool on their two-and-a-half-acre site—to its natural state. The waterway was home to the last remaining native brook trout in the county, and we helped the owners apply for a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide for the construction portion of the project, which involved eliminating the pool. Two separate grants were awarded for the construction portion of the project. Equity brought together stakeholders for the project including Trout Unlimited, the NJDEP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We helped to prepare an engineering plan, designed the demolition of a dam and restoration of the brook, including plans and specifications and other contract documents, contracting and construction management. Equity was also involved in completing a Phase 2 architectural survey, demolition of the pool and restoration of the brook, including habitat formation, step pool construction, planting of native vegetation on the slopes next to the brook and preparation of a closure report. Recent fish studies confirmed the native brook trout population is thriving. We are proud of being able to help the property owner to restore a brook containing native brook trout with improved fish habitat, and to find and bring stakeholders and funding to this environmental project.

Gallagher Bassett Technical Services (formerly WCD Group)

By Chip D’Angelo, President and CEO

In 2010, WCD Group assisted Advance Realty in the design and remediation in their acquisition of a property, at 14th Street and Willow in Hoboken, which was later developed into a mixed-use luxury project. We knew that the site—which was formerly home to the Hoboken Gas Works, and later housed a gas station and automotive repair shop until closing in 2005—had some serious contamination issues, including coal tar, benzene and significant hydrocarbons. The purchasers took responsibility for the cleanup, which included sophisticated and complicated excavation to 60 feet down, straight to bedrock, to remove the contaminated soil from the nearly one-acre site. All contaminated soil had to be removed to bedrock as per agreement with the NJDEP. The design called for the installation of a four-level underground parking garage that served as a containment structure and addressed the ground water contamination. The successful, completed development is now known as the Harlow. The completed project includes a 140-unit world-class residence that spans seven floors, with 20,000 square feet of ground floor retail anchored by Trader Joe’s. The below-grade parking has 363 spaces, and Harlow’s amenities include an outdoor pool and landscaped pool deck, fitness center, children’s playroom and beautiful roof terraces with barbecues, fire pits and lounge areas. WCD Group is proud to have helped turn an eyesore into a central part of Hoboken’s unique 24/7 vibe.

GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.

By Benjamin Alter, LSRP, Senior Vice President

In 2017, the owners of a pre-school in Hoboken retained GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. to remediate a petroleum spill that was discovered by health officials in the building’s basement. Our investigation revealed the presence of perchloroethylene, a colorless liquid primarily used for dry cleaning fabrics and de-greasing metals, in the indoor air of the basement. The levels exceeded New Jersey’s Rapid Action Guidance Levels, constituting an Immediate Environmental Concern. We immediately reported it to state authorities, and requested a stay of immediate remediation—the installation of purifying equipment in the building’s basement—for two reasons: the logistics of bringing the bulky equipment into the limited space; and a suspicion that the source of the contamination was from a different source outside of our client’s property. The preliminary assessment we conducted several years earlier in support of the pre-school’s operating license had demonstrated that PCE was never used, stored or disposed of on the property, which meant our client should not be responsible for the costs of the cleanup. We petitioned the state, noting that the contamination was most likely from a nearby sewer line and some nearby dry cleaners. The state agreed and used public funds to mitigate indoor vapors arising from the subsurface contamination, saving our client tens of thousands of dollars. Today, Hoboken children continue to safely enjoy the benefits of the pre-school.

Maser Consulting

By Robert L. Zelley, PG, LSRP, Senior Principal, Director of Environmental Services

Maser Consulting was hired in 2005 by the New Jersey School Development Authority to investigate a vacant brownfield within the Paterson Abbott district for consideration of a much-needed new elementary school. The brownfield was composed of a complex variety of lots with prior uses, including a service station, funeral home and textile engraving facility. Soil and ground water impacts were remediated in accordance with strict NJDEP standards to facilitate the school’s construction. The project advancement was challenged by funding and everchanging NJDEP regulations. As the project LSRP, it’s my job to be protective of human health, the environment and public safety. My Remedial Action Outcome on this project was audited and confirmed by the NJDEP in 2020. The course of this project ultimately spanned 15 years, but due to the commitment and perseverance by both the NJSDA and Maser Consulting, students of the Dr. Hani Awadallah School can now enjoy a new, state-of-the-art technology facility that will provide a positive educational impact on this community. It was very satisfying to see the successful outcome of this 105,500 square-foot school, designed for 720 students, knowing the steadfast dedication of all stakeholders.

Matrix New World Engineering

By Jayne Warne PE, President

For more than 30 years, no one had stepped onto Newark’s Ironbound Stadium field. Once home to East Side High School’s football team, the federal government closed the 4,500-seat stadium after testing revealed soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls. Previously found in industrial products or chemicals, PCBs were banned in the United States in 1979 amid suggestions that these chemicals could have unintended impacts on human and environmental health. Now the field was being used as a dumping ground, leaving students with no place of their own to practice or play. In 2019, Matrix served as the environmental consultant and LSRP for the City of Newark during redevelopment of the Ironbound Stadium field. Working with the City of Newark, the NJDEP and the USEPA, Matrix oversaw the remediation—including dewatering and water treatment—and redevelopment, excavation and removal of the contaminated soil, and compliance with federal, state and local requirements. The stadium, now transformed, is once again home to the East Side High School Red Raiders football, soccer and lacrosse teams, and is a central hub for community recreation.

RT Martin Ventures LLC

By Bob Martin, Managing Director

During my eight years as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) under Governor Chris Christie, we leveraged our resources to make NJDEP a more effective and more efficient agency. The NJDEP took a lead role in making the state more resilient to storms such as Superstorm Sandy and in improving protections for the state’s air, water, land and natural resources. Among other accomplishments, we successfully implemented the Site Remediation Reform Act and the Licensed Site Remediation Professional program where the NJDEP oversaw the cleanup of more than 26,000 sites during our eight-year administration. And even as new contaminated sites were being discovered, we lowered the backlog of sites to be cleaned up from 20,000 to 14,000. These kind of results demonstrated the value of this effective program, with licensed private sector professions overseeing the cleanup projects, and NJDEP overseeing the quality and ensuring the regulatory responsibilities were being met.

Summit Drilling

By Chris Casarona, Director of Sales & Marketing

An alliance between AWT Environmental Services and Summit Drilling has completed several complex projects from Hudson to Burlington County. The results can be characterized by efficiency in the drilling and injection phases where they are experiencing greatly reduced timeframes by leveraging the individual strengths of both companies. At a Montville site, for example, the original project schedule allowed 42 days for the installation of the well field. The AWT/Summit team completed the drilling scope of work in just 20 days by skillfully managing multiple sonic rigs. Following completion of the installation of the well field, AWT installed the air sparge and vapor extraction systems to the customer’s specifications. In a Hamilton project, the combined planning and execution of the AWT/Summit team cut the delivery time of the injection events in half.

“Remediation is a contact sport,” notes AWT Division Manager of Drilling & In-Situ Injection Baxter Duffy. “The key to successful remediation lies both in the selection of proper remedial materials and designing the injection program in a manner that contact with the subsurface contaminant is maximized.”

“We’ve been successfully completing complex sites utilizing the latest in sonic technology for a number of years,” adds Summit Drilling Vice President of Large Projects Dermot Dillon. “At a time when remediation and site closure efficiency are the priority, it’s clear that our success as a combined team is right on time.”

Surgeons are Improving Quality-of-Life and Saving Lives with Robotic Surgery

Compiled by Miles Z. Epstein, Editor, COMMERCE

The benefits of robotic surgery include a faster return to daily activities; fewer complications; shorter hospital stays; reduced hospitalization costs; reduced trauma; significantly less pain; and less scarring. Here are some examples that show how it can enhance the capabilities of trained surgeons to improve quality-of-life for patients and save lives, as well.

Atlantic Health System Morristown Medical Center

By Michael Hernando, M.D., Director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery

Morristown Medical Center (MMC) is dedicated to offering more minimally invasive surgical options to help patients return to their lives faster. We offer patients the latest technology by a highly experienced surgical team, less downtime and a shorter waiting period to schedule the surgery. We’re also expanding our minimally invasive surgical procedures offered in an outpatient setting. Patients who can benefit from minimally invasive surgeries include surgical oncology, bariatric, general, head and neck, pediatric urologic, transoral, gynecologic and gynecologic oncology, and urologic and urogynecologic. MMC has the latest, state-of-the-art da Vinci® Surgical Systems that give the surgeon added capabilities of which translates to better outcomes for patients, including, in most cases, reduced pain, reduced hospitalization, minimal scarring and a faster recovery. Advances in robotic-assisted laparoscopy, for example, shows a benefit over traditional laparoscopy in areas of the body where the surgeon needs to manipulate instruments within tighter spaces and at tighter angles such as the pelvis for gynecological procedures, or the upper abdomen (esophageal cancer), as well as for urology (prostate surgery) and colorectal surgery (rectal cancer).

Atlantic Health System, Overlook Medical Center

By Paul Starker, M.D., Chair of the Department of Surgery

Robotic surgery, or more accurately, robotic-assisted laparoscopy, helps most in areas of the body where the surgeon encounters tighter spaces and tighter angles. Other robotic-assisted systems are computer-guided, which enhance precision. A great example of computer-guided robotic-assisted surgery is an option for brain surgery that Overlook recently pioneered, the ROSA Brain robot. ROSA Brain is a surgical navigation and positioning system, much like a GPS, uses electrodes to pinpoint exactly which part of the brain is responsible for seizures, without having to surgically remove part of the skull or even shave a patient’s head, as other traditional methods require. The robot also can assist in deep brain stimulation, trans-nasal and ventricular endoscopy and brain biopsies. Another great example is the Mako System, another computer-guided, robotic-arm option that we use at Overlook for partial knee replacements.

The Mako System creates a 3-D, virtual view of the patient’s bone surface and correlates the image to the pre-programmed surgical plan. Mako’s robotic arm then acts as a virtual “assistant” keeping the surgeon’s movements to the pre-planned area of the bone. With more accurate alignment, the implant is expected to last longer, and also preserves more of the patient’s own bone and tissue.

Englewood Health

By James McGinty, M.D., Chief of Surgery and Surgical Services

Almost any patient in need of a surgical procedure can benefit from robotic surgery. Englewood Health has been using robotic surgery since 2009, and we have since expanded its use into a variety of procedures including urologic, colorectal, gynecologic, thoracic and general surgery. Robotic surgery enhances the capabilities of a surgeon performing minimally invasive surgery which, compared to conventional open surgery, results in fewer complications, less blood loss, less use of pain medication and decreased length of stay. With a robot, the surgeon is able to perform surgery with greater visual magnification and visibility, better instrument maneuverability than with traditional laparoscopic instruments and more precise maneuvering during very intricate surgery. Because the surgeon is seated at a console in an ergonomically sound position, they have less fatigue. Additionally, the surgeon does not need to rely on an assistant to retract tissue and hold a camera, which streamlines the operation. As a result of these factors, our patients generally feel much better recovering from surgery performed robotically, return home and pick up with their normal routines more quickly and have shorter recovery times.

Hackensack Meridian Health, Hackensack University Medical Center

By Yair David Kissin, M.D., Vice Chair, Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Hackensack University Medical Center, a national leader in orthopedic care and robotic surgery, performed the first total knee replacement surgery in the nation using the TSolution One® Total Knee Application by THINK Surgical, Inc. This is the first surgery since the groundbreaking technology received FDA approval for treating osteoarthritis last year. In January, Hackensack University Medical Center became the first hospital in the country to acquire the TSolution One® surgical system, which offers a more personal and precise surgical experience for orthopedic patients. It was an honor to perform the first total knee replacement surgery in February on Eugenia Dziopa, 64, of Sussex, New Jersey, using this innovative technology. Like many patients, Mrs. Dziopa suffers from severe arthritis in her knee. Alternative forms of treatment did not improve her situation. She is recovering well since surgery and looking forward to spending quality time with her family. As one of five surgeons who participated in the clinical trial that confirmed the safety and efficacy of this technology, I am confident that this solution will be a gamechanger for traditional knee replacements. We look forward to enhancing the quality of life for patients such as Mrs. Dziopa, utilizing the latest advances in robotic technology.

Holy Name Medical Center

By Ari Seidenstein, M.D., Chief of Orthopedic Surgery

Whatever a patient’s age or reason for knee replacement surgery, Holy Name Medical Center offers robotic knee replacement that can shorten the hospital stay, reduce recovery time, and get patients quickly back to what they love to do. Robotic knee replacement surgery is not a one-size-fits-all procedure but personalized to get patients the right fit for their own unique knee. Advanced robot-assisted technology enables the orthopedic surgeon to achieve the proper alignment of the implant so the patient will be comfortable, the knee will be flexible and the implant will be long-lasting. Patients benefit from Holy Name’s comprehensive pre- and post-surgical care. Robot-assisted technology is also used by Holy Name surgeons to perform gynecologic, urologic, and bariatric procedures. The medical center is certified by the Surgical Review Corporation as a Center of Excellence for its performance of outstanding robotic surgery.

Jefferson Health New Jersey

By Roy L. Sandau, D.O., FACOS, Chief of Surgery

Robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) allows surgeons to perform delicate and complex operations through tiny incisions with enhanced ergonomics, vision, precision, dexterity and control. Patients, surgeons and hospital systems recognize several advantages of RAS, which include reduced blood loss, narcotic use, recovery time and return to normal activities. A very exciting advancement in RAS is the development of image overlay navigation technology. Radiologic imaging and fluorescence now can be superimposed over the patient’s anatomy to help guide the surgeon to localize and remove cancerous tumors and metastatic lymph nodes, as well as accurately place prosthetic implants in orthopedic joint and spine surgery. For all the above reasons, RAS has grown to include all of the major cancer surgery specialties; colorectal, gynecology, hepatopancreaticobiliary, otolaryngology, thoracic, urology and even breast surgery. It is quickly growing in the neuromusculoskeletal specialties, including neurosurgery, orthopedic, and plastic and reconstructive surgery. The fastest-growing field is general surgery, with hernia and bariatric surgery leading the way. With more than 10 major medical companies developing surgical operating systems, it is no surprise, more and more, patients are questioning whether their surgery can be done robotically. 

RWJBarnabas Health, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

By Adam M. Kopelan, M.D., FACS, Chairman, Department of Surgery

At Newark Beth Israel, we have performed more than 2,000 robotic-assisted surgeries in the past decade and a half, and have become very familiar with how to maximize the technological advances and translate this experience to big wins for our patients. It’s part of our belief that minimally invasive surgery should be the standard of care whenever possible, because it’s safer for most patients. The robotic surgery platform allows us to achieve the goal of minimally invasive surgery across multiple patients in the all of the disciplines of surgery. There are additional benefits: less pain; smaller incisions; less blood loss; less risk for infection; faster recovery and shorter hospital stays to name several. We were one of the earliest programs in the United States to offer many robotic surgery options for our patients. Currently our surgeons in urology, gynecology, thoracic surgery and general/oncologic surgery perform procedures such as prostate removal, hysterectomy, lung resection, colorectal resection and hernia repair. An example of our programmatic commitment and investment in talent and resources is highlighted by our being able to do one of the most complex procedures in pancreatic cancer surgery, the Whipple procedure. 

RWJBarnabas Health, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

By Aliza Leiser, M.D., FACOG, Interim Division Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology

Robotic surgery has found a significant role in minimally invasive surgery for many patients with gynecologic cancers and is included in the treatment arsenal as part of the Gynecologic Oncology Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas health facility. This includes the management of patients with early stage endometrial cancer. In these cases, a number of studies have shown advantages with regards to blood loss, transfusion requirements, conversion to laparotomy, operative time and length of hospital stay. It is also important to know that removing sentinel lymph nodes through robotic surgery in patients with endometrial cancer has become a widely accepted technique and is often recommended by the surgeon. Other gynecologic cancers have emerging indications for the use of robotic surgery, from early stage ovarian cancers amenable to laparoscopic techniques all the way to more complex procedures involving the removal of pelvic organs. It is important to also know that laparoscopic techniques have fallen out of favor for many cervical cancer patients requiring surgery, and patients should have an in-depth discussion about this with their surgeons.

RWJBarnabas Health, Saint Barnabas Medical Center

By Thad Denehy, M.D., Gynecologic Oncologist

At Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) many patients are eligible and may benefit from the use of the daVinci® Robotic Surgical Systems including those requiring advanced, minimally invasive gastrointestinal, thoracic, gynecologic or urologic surgery. I use the daVinci Robotic Surgical System for 70 percent of the surgery that I performs. Using the robot-assisted system, we are able to perform surgery using a few small incisions, instead of a larger incision. Recent advances in the area of gynecologic oncology couple utilizing the daVinci Robotic Surgical System with the use of firefly technology for sentinel node identification. The system is designed to help surgeons perform surgery through the control of specialized instruments and a miniaturized camera, resulting in shorter recovery times, less risk of infection, scarring and pain for patients and faster return to normal activities.

Saint Peter’s University Hospital

By Andrew Camerota, M.D.,General, Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery

Robot-assisted surgery offers the ability to perform complex procedures with unmatched precision. For the patient, it offers multiple benefits including less scarring, less blood loss, significantly less pain and a shorter recovery time. Common operations that can be performed using robotics are gallbladder removal, hernia repair, colon and other bowel removal, anti-reflux procedures, hysterectomy and prostate resection. It’s important to emphasize that robotic abdominal surgery is 100 percent controlled by the surgeon. Patients often think that robotic surgery means the physician is less involved, but not only does robotic surgery require the physician to have special training, it allows them more precision and control during the procedure. Patient benefits include increased mobility which contributes to a patient’s ability to resume normal daily activities sooner. Instead of waiting weeks to return to work and exercise, it’s often days. Robotic surgery also reduces the need for narcotics, all of which lead to an improved quality of life for the patient. I see less need for recurring surgeries for such cases as hiatal hernia repair if done robotically. Suturing and dissection are easier with robot-assisted surgeries and, as a result, I’m confident that the future of medicine will include more surgeries performed with the use of robotics.

St. Joseph’s Health, St. Joseph’s University Medical Center

By Brian Day, M.D., FACOG, Passaic Valley OB/GYN

At. St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, our expert gynecologic surgeons are skilled in the use of minimally invasive and robotic surgery techniques, offering women new treatment alternatives to some very common conditions. Using a robotic-assisted system can allow for a greater range of motion of the instruments and a three-dimensional vision of the area of surgery. Because the movement of instruments by the robot is gentler than a human hand, there is less bruising and stretching of skin (especially for difficult-to-treat gynecologic conditions), allowing for greater precision and less pain after surgery. These advancements in robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgery have allowed us to offer new treatment options to more and more women. Women who were not always candidates for surgery now have options that can dramatically preserve their health and improve their lives. The most common procedures I perform robotically are hysterectomies, myomectomy (the removal of fibroids from the uterus) and surgical management of endometriosis. Before the advancements of robotic surgery, these procedures often meant significant discomfort and weeks of recovery. In the past, surgery for conditions such as fibroids or endometriosis typically required large incisions, lengthy hospital stays and long recoveries. However, with robotic procedures, patients may stay only one night in the hospital and are back to their normal routines within two weeks.

The Valley Hospital

By Howard H. Jones, M.D., Subspecialty Director, Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery; Director, Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery, Valley Medical Group.

Thanks to high-definition 3-D visualization tools, personalized surgical plans, intuitive motion and ergonomic design, robotic surgery enables surgeons to perform even the most complex and delicate procedures through very small incisions with outstanding precision. Robotic surgery offers several advantages over open surgery, including significantly less pain, reduced blood loss, less scarring, a shorter recovery time, a faster return to normal daily activities and, in many cases, better clinical outcomes. Early recovery is especially important for patients undergoing cancer treatment, as it may mean an earlier transition to the next stage of treatment.

In 2001, Valley was among the first hospitals in the country to adopt the first da Vinci® Surgical System for minimally invasive surgeries. Valley continues to invest in next-generation robotic systems—including the da Vinci Xi® Surgical System and the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgical System for partial knee, total knee and hip replacements—to bring the latest minimally invasive options to patients. Valley’s surgeons receive extensive training in robotic surgery techniques. Through the use of robotic surgery, Valley surgeons can offer a minimally invasive alternative to complex open surgeries. This technique allows surgeons to operate through the smallest of incisions, offers greater precision and brings significant benefits to patients.

Trinitas Regional Medical Center

By Sergio Baerga, M.D., Director of Robotic Surgery

Thanks to using robots in the operating room, surgery that once required large incisions (and unsightly scars) can now be performed through smaller, single-site entries. Cases that require precise, fine dissection and laparoscopic suturing are prime candidates for robotic surgery, which means blood loss during surgery is reduced and, therefore, discomfort is minimalized. Patients in need of general surgery can benefit, as well as surgery for reproductive issues such as endometriosis, cardiology, endocrinology, and conditions related to aggressive cancers of the bladder, uterus, prostate and throat. There have been many developments in robotic surgery, for instance, Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS), a minimally invasive procedure used to treat oropharynx cancers. TORS often eliminates the need for large incisions and division of the jawbone that are sometimes required by traditional surgery. The system not only allows for greater dexterity but also great visibility—up to 10 times stronger magnification—than traditional surgical procedures. And if a second surgeon is needed, there’s no need for that doctor to scrub in; they can simply sit down at an adjoining console to access the surgical field.   

Recycling in New Jersey: A Conversation with Bayshore President and CEO…Valerie Montecalvo

By Martin C. Daks, Contributing Editor

Bayshore Family of Companies has long been a leader in recycling and sustainability. COMMERCE spoke with President and CEO Valerie Montecalvo about the recycling industry, from present-day challenges to future opportunities. Technology will be key, and education about what to recycle will truly matter, she explains.

COMMERCE: The Coronavirus epidemic has sparked a stock market panic and fears of a broad economic slowdown. Are you worried that could eventually mean fewer products used and recycled?

VALERIE MONTECALVO: Like everyone, we hope this most serious global health crisis will be relatively short so that it does not affect the volume of material being recycled. We have established contingency plans for the continuity of operations through remote access for jobs that can be performed from home, and have provided our staff with all available guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Solid Waste Association of North America and the National Waste & Recycling Association.

Q. In 2017, China announced it would impose a ban on imports of certain kinds of solid waste. Has that affected your business?

A. Like nearly all recycling processors, Bayshore did historically send the recovered product to international markets, including China. With the collapse of international markets, recyclers have had to expand the use of domestic and Canadian markets, which we have done. We have been most successful in identifying the markets needed to continue recycling the curbside materials we receive.

However, the economics of recycling have dramatically changed as the fewer remaining markets can, and have, demanded higher prices due to the general lack of sufficient competition in the industry. A few short years ago, recyclers would “pay” towns $5.00 or $10.00 per ton for the benefit of getting curbside material that could then be processed and sold profitably. Now, single stream recycling “costs” towns anywhere from $75.00 to $95.00 and higher. This economic dislocation is expected to improve, but not before new domestic markets, like paper mills and glass plants, are opened and sufficient competition is restored.

Q. What are some other significant recycling issues today?

A. The single biggest issue affecting recycling today is the near-total collapse of international markets to ship commodities. In 2011, China passed “Article 12” to crack down on the receipt of “garbage” being delivered to them and marketed as recyclables. Initially, the crackdown was not actively enforced. However, in March 2013, China started Operation Green Fence, and as many as 70 percent of all incoming containers of recycled material were rigorously inspected.

As a result, entire ships loaded with containers began being rejected at Chinese ports after inspection. Operation Green Sword came after that in 2017 and included a combined prohibitive outthrow rate of .5 percent for contamination, compared to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries index of 5 percent. The .5 percent rate is unprecedented in industry history and essentially impossible to achieve. The net result is that we have an oversupply of material and too little demand for recycled commodities. Other Asian markets in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam are following the same path as China, restricting or eliminating imports of recycled material.

Q. What are some of your biggest opportunities and challenges?

A. While markets are clearly depressed, recycling remains a critical component of a sustainable society, and the market will bounce back in time. Our most significant opportunities to expand the field of recycling are with two primary materials: food waste and scrap tires. Roughly 25 percent of what is left in the residential garbage can, after 34 years of mandatory recycling, is food waste. Our State Legislature has passed legislation on two fronts to deal with this issue. First and foremost, was the Food Waste Reduction Act back in 2017. It required the NJDEP to develop an implementation plan to achieve our legislative goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. This laudable goal can be translated to feeding hungry people.

Q. What is the status of this effort?

A. NJDEP did come out with its draft plan last August, held public hearings and is nearing the finalization of this plan. Beyond food waste reduction, the Legislature also recently passed a food waste disposal ban bill that is awaiting action by Governor Murphy. If enacted, large generators of food waste will need to bring the material to compost facilities, provided one exists within 25 road miles and the cost of composting does not exceed the current cost of disposal. Similar legislation exists in several New England States, and, if signed by the governor, our New Jersey law will kick in during 2021.

Q. How about scrap tire disposal? Any movement on this issue?

A. Technologies exist to process tires into useful products, but as yet they have not been shown to be economically feasible on a large scale. Most tires are still burned in cement kilns in the manufacturing of cement. Our biggest challenges remain market development and finding ways to make cutting-edge recycling technology economically competitive.

Q. Why is New Jersey a good fit for your company?

A. New Jersey is arguably the birthplace of large-scale recycling as the first state to adopt a mandatory program back in 1987. This commitment by the state to recycling, and our density of population, make New Jersey and our location in Middlesex County a perfect fit for Bayshore.

Q. Where are your clients located? Are most of them in New Jersey?

A. The vast majority of our clients are in New Jersey, but we do accept material from the greater New York City metropolitan area and beyond. For the most sustainable operations and lowest transportation carbon footprint, we prefer taking material from as close to our operations in Woodbridge Township as possible. 

Q. How is technology changing the practice of recycling?

A. Many advanced recycling separation technologies have historically relied on a combination of automation or machines; and human labor to separate material along with conveyor belt picking stations. This division of labor and use of machines has been effective in separating both construction and demolition debris, and curbside materials such as bottles, cans, paper and plastic.

We are rapidly approaching a day where more-advanced technology employing robots will become standard in our industry, and we already have advanced robotics facilities opening up in Florida and Texas. Technology is also critical toward making the best use of recovered materials for recycling and reuse and energy production. For example, technology will eventually allow us to make better use of non-traditional plastics, such as #3 to #7 plastic, and to convert such plastics to fuel and energy.

Q. What changes are you planning for Bayshore Family of Companies? How will your company continue to evolve?

A. The Bayshore Family of Companies has long operated with a strategic plan that calls for operating 100 percent green businesses powered 100 percent by renewable energy, while building out a state-of-the-art Eco-Complex and Energy Campus. We are investigating biomass gasification technologies to eventually be able to process residue after recycling, which would otherwise go to landfills, into clean transportation fuels and/or energy. Such technology would allow us to move significantly closer to the achievement of our overarching corporate goal for sustainable operations. This technology is not, to the best of our knowledge, in operation anywhere in New Jersey. We are also evaluating potential tenants and/or partners who have a proven track record in the United States in operating gasification systems at a commercial scale.

Q. Can you briefly describe Bayshore’s nine separate and distinct recycling operations within its 58-acre eco-complex and energy campus in the Keasbey section of Woodbridge Township?

A. Bayshore Recycling Corp. primarily recycles concrete, asphalt, brick and block from construction and demolition projects—bridges, highways, roads, driveways, parking lots and other objects—and manufactures specific-grade aggregate products for new roads and other construction projects.

Bayshore Soil Management, LLC accepts non-hazardous petroleum impacted soils, and operates a low-temperature thermal desorption unit. BSM also uses rotary kiln technology to treat and essentially sterilize petroleum-contaminated soils, and then reuses this material in brownfield redevelopment and other beneficial use projects.

Montecalvo Material Recovery Facility accepts mixed construction and demolition debris and bulky waste that is processed using mechanized material recovery, with meticulous upfront separation. Paper, mixed plastic corrugated cardboard, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, aggregate materials and different grades of wood are recovered, recycled or otherwise repurposed. Clean dimensional lumber is sized and marketed for landscape mulch. The adulterated wood is mixed with a small fraction of paper, corrugated and plastics, and blended to manufacture an engineered biofuel that is used at industrial facilities as a fuel source.

Coastal Metal Recycling Corp. accepts and recycles traditional scrap metal, copper, brass, pipe, aluminum, stainless, wire and steel.

Montecalvo Marine Services was established to process dredged material through the use of existing spudded work barges [a specialized type of barge, commonly used for marine construction operations, which is moored by steel shafts or through-deck piling] on the Raritan River. Our NJDEP approvals allow both in-barge and pug mill [mixer] stabilization of dredge material on our spudded work barges with the marketing of stabilized material for beneficial use projects such as brownfield redevelopment.

Bayshore Single Stream Solutions, or BS3, operates a Class A recycling facility for the acceptance and processing of curbside commodities, including aluminum cans; glass bottles and jars; steel and tin cans; #1 and #2 plastic water, milk, soda, and laundry bottles; newspaper; corrugated cardboard; and mixed paper like magazines, office paper and junk mail; as well as #3 through #7 plastics. BS3 is also explicitly approved to accept single-stream materials, as well as co-mingled, and dual stream curbside material.

Bayshore Resource Recovery is a sister company to BS3, and exclusively processes paper products for fiber to extract the highest-grade materials for recovery and marketing. These materials include double sorted cardboard, corrugated cardboard, shredded or sorted office paper, old newspaper and new, over-issue newspaper. Lower-grade paper is also recovered, such as mixed paper and boxboard, then baled and sent to market.

Montecalvo Transportation Services features facility operations and is a NJDEP-licensed hauling company offering full-service transportation to clients using a fleet of dump trucks, tandems and triaxle transfer trailers. We also offer, for rent, 10, 20, 30 and 40 cubic yard dumpsters to residential, commercial and institutional customers.

Port Raritan Marine Terminal is a waterfront facility that operates in all capacities for loading, unloading, and transport of aggregate materials via barge, ship, rail, or truck. The Bayshore property and PRMT are also serviced by Class 1 railroad, with access to both a permanent pier and spudded work barge facilities to accommodate barge-to-rail or rail-to-barge material transport.

Q. In December, a fire impacted your paper recycling business. What are your plans to rebuild it, and how are you handling the activity that used to be done there?

A. We did sustain a devastating six-alarm fire back on December 16, 2019, which destroyed our paper recycling warehouse and our offices. We have relocated office operations to a corporate complex in nearby Hazlet, on Route 36, which will be our home over the next three years.

We are still in the process of evaluating whether we will rebuild offices on the Bayshore site in Woodbridge or not. In terms of the paper operation, paper is what is called a Class A recyclable material. We can continue to accept and process paper in our BS3 operation. While we sustained a significant loss, we have not had to give up any market share in paper recycling. We will eventually replace the specialized paper recycling equipment lost in the fire.

Q. How does being a family business impact Bayshore?

A. The primary benefit of a family business is less red tape in decision making. My husband, COO Frank, and I are incredibly hands-on and available at any time and on any day for all necessary decisions required to move our businesses forward. At the same time, we employ effective delegation to allow our managers to make their own decisions within their sphere of influence. A collateral benefit of a family business is literally functioning as a family. Frank and I have always tried to view and treat our employees as members of our extended family. We believe this leads to a strong sense of place, which has further resulted in relatively limited staff turnover and consistently high productivity.

Q. Are you seeing more of or less of certain materials?

A. For our curbside recycling operation, Bayshore Single Stream Solutions, we have not really seen any dramatic shifts in the types of materials we receive from the approximately 50 New Jersey municipalities we serve. 

Q. What kinds of trends are you seeing?

A. We are beginning to see towns start to shift from single stream recycling back to dual stream. This is just beginning, but it is an extremely important trend. Perhaps as long as a decade ago, towns shifted from having two recycling containers, where beverage bottles and cans went in one bucket and paper, cardboard and other fiber went in another (dual stream), to mixing all recyclables together in one container (single stream).

The logic behind this was that greater convenience for the homeowner would lead to higher levels of participation and more material getting recycled instead of being disposed of. This has been true, but at a significant price.

Mixing improperly cleaned bottles, cans, and plastics in with paper and other fiber has resulted in high levels of contamination. This degrades the quality of the fiber right at the curb and reduces the price recyclers can derive from available markets. A second very positive trend has been public education campaigns by towns and county governments. Most counties at this point have “Recycle Right” campaigns underway to designate what is and isn’t required for recycling. “Wishful Recycling,” where homeowners throw nearly everything in the recycling bucket, dramatically increases contamination of the recycling stream and is counterproductive. Most counties have adopted the slogan “when in doubt, throw it out.”

Q. How difficult is it to find workers for your blue-collar jobs?

A. For many years, we have supplemented our core Bayshore workforce with operations laborers hired through an employment agency. This reduces the demand for our Human Resources Department to constantly find laborers and has proven the most reliable and efficient way to staff field operations. The work atmosphere at Bayshore has resulted in relatively low turnover, and we have not had any difficultly filling our blue-collar jobs. But we do have some concern over the industry direction toward robotics, which may eventually displace blue-collar workers throughout our industry.

Q. What are some odd or unusual items your facility has received for recycling?

A. We routinely get significant volumes of problem materials. One particular problem has been termed “tanglers,” which consists of such things as garden hoses, rope, twine, tape and other waste that can wrap around equipment. Another peculiar material is sports equipment, including bats, balls, hockey sticks, protective equipment, even bowling balls. Most significantly, we quite routinely receive packaged needles and syringes, logically from at-home diabetics, which probably are viewed as being recyclable since one part is metal and one part is plastic. We have even received entire swimming pool liners. Obviously, none of these materials are recyclable and must be disposed of in the trash.