Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Programs: Relevant for a Brighter Future

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.

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