Members Contributions Recognized with 2021 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has honored 13 projects by schools, businesses, and community organizations around the state with the 2021 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence. Four of these projects recognize the contributions and collaboration of architects across the Commonwealth.
“This year’s Environmental Excellence honorees showcase the innovation and passion that our students, educators, and community and business leaders bring to environmental challenges,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Their dedication brings health, economic, and recreation benefits not only to their communities, but to all Pennsylvanians.”
“There’s a clear message in the powerful results these award-winning projects have had in the field, in their communities, in the classroom, and at the work site: The environment is incorporated into all aspects of our lives, and we can all be environmental stewards,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “It’s a privilege to spotlight each year the best of the best among those who understand the importance of this for Pennsylvania, now and in the future.”
Applications were evaluated for their degree of environmental protection, innovation, partnership, economic impact, consideration of climate change and sustainability, and outcomes achieved.

Breathe Easy Triboro EcoDistrict Air Quality Project

EvolveEA and New Sun Rising

The Triboro EcoDistrict was formed as a collaboration between Millvale and neighboring boroughs Sharpsburg and Etna. The Breathe Easy project gives the public access to air quality data and tools to take action. Monitors were installed in several locations, and a program in Millvale also helps residents monitor and improve their indoor air quality. An online dashboard was created to display real-time outdoor air quality data, and most recently each borough installed a uniquely designed monitoring station that doubles as a public space and social media selfie spot to help promote a regional Breathe Easy campaign. The planning process and implementation projects have activated many residents across the Triboro EcoDistrict.

RIDC Mill 19

Regional Industrial Development Corporation // R3ACMU Robotics + Manufacturing Workforce Training Center – 2019 AIA PA Silver Medal Recipient + Catalyst Connection; Mill 19 Building I, Office Renovation)

Brownfield redevelopment meets sustainable commercial development in this revival and reuse of a former steel mill at the 178-acre Hazelwood Green site, the last large riverfront brownfield in Pittsburgh city limits. RIDC stripped the mill’s metal walls and roof to reveal the underlying steel superstructure, while maximizing energy efficiency and building material reuse. RIDC abated large quantities of legacy galbestos and lead, preventing further contamination of the surrounding environment. The roof holds one of the largest rooftop solar arrays in the United States, producing over two million kilowatt hours per year, enough to power the entire existing facility.

Mill 19’s design pays tribute to Pittsburgh’s industrial past while serving as a beacon of where our economic future is leading. Mill 19 not only boasts a record-setting rooftop solar array and numerous energy- and water-saving features, but also houses companies that are leading the way in developing transformative technologies that are redefining our region,” said Dr. Donald F. Smith, president of Regional Industrial Development Corporation.

AgWorks Lab

Commonwealth Charter Academy // CRA Architects & Integrated Agriculture Systems (INTAG)

To teach urban sustainability techniques to K-12 students, this public cyber charter school installed a 6,100 square foot aquaponics/hydroponics AgWorks Lab that includes about 400 fish and 3,000 plants in a controlled growing environment. All produce grown organically by students is donated to local food banks around Harrisburg, where the lab is located. The academy installed 1,080 solar panels that generate a half megawatt of electricity, providing a third of the power for the facility and 100 percent of the power to run AgWorks. The lab is open to the public.

Lime Spring Square

RGS Associates and Land Studies // Mula Architects

Lime Spring Square features 25 retail, commercial, warehouse, and medical office uses surrounding 11.5 acres of restored floodplain. In a unique approach to postconstruction stormwater management, the project used floodplain restoration (instead of conventional infiltration or detention facilities) as the primary best management practice to meet regulatory requirements. Sediment was removed to reconnect the stream channel with the floodplain, large areas of interconnected wetland habitat were created, and the groundwater interchange was rehabilitated. While the primary goal was restoration, the secondary benefit is that stormwater management requirements for a development project can be met within a previously unused portion of a site. In addition to regional environmental and economic benefits, Lime Spring Square presents a model that can be reproduced throughout the state.