MOBILE, ALA. – Partners for Environmental Progress recognized the contributions of area businesses and organizations at the 19th Annual Membership Meeting and Environmental Awards Presentation April 4.
A coalition of over 225 business, non-profit, education and community leaders, PEP promotes business growth while preserving and enhancing the environment and quality of life along the Gulf Coast.
“PEP brings together organizations that don’t just want to comply with environmental regulations, but are committed to the region and preserving the environment for generations to come,” said Beth Thomas, past president and executive committee member with PEP. “We live here and we love [our community].”
Since 2005, the PEP Board of Directors has presented Environmental Stewardship Awards to recognize members whose work has made a significant and positive contribution to the Gulf Coast region. Awards recognize businesses small and large, as well as non-profit organizations and municipalities.
Winning projects represent a diversity of initiatives, from oyster reef restoration fueled by volunteer manpower and funding from Alabama Power, to the alternative fuels and reduced emissions project undertaken by BASF at their McIntosh, Alabama facility.
A common thread across several winning projects is the importance of collaboration. “The partnership approach of bringing people with a common goal together is huge,” said Dr. Elizabeth Anderton, Agriscience teacher at Daphne High School. Her students partnered with Geosyntec Consultants, Inc. and numerous community organizations to initiate a watershed pilot project along the Tiawasee Creek. Geosyntec Consultants, Inc. will be recognized for their contribution at the award ceremony.
Education and community outreach are critical to building a more sustainable environment. “Community connection is key,” said Andy Callahan, manager of sales and services at Soterra, LLC. Along with their parent company Greif, Inc., Soterra partnered with Mobile Bay National Estuary Program to install rain barrels at homes and businesses in the Mobile area. “This project helps spread PEP’s message regarding environmental responsibility to the community. People who previously were not talking about water conservation or environmental protection are now discussing the benefits of rain water collection,” Callahan said.
Community enhancement is the driving force for volunteers with Alabama Power Service Organization, who logged over 260 hours restoring seven oyster reefs alongside The Nature Conservancy at Helen Wood Park. “[Alabama Power] volunteers have a passion for preserving Mobile Bay and making it a great resource for our community,” said Erin Delaporte, president of the Mobile APSO chapter.
Environmental innovation requires a great deal of problem solving. In designing a vapor recovery system at the Chickasaw Creek dock, Shell Chemical engineers had a number of obstacles to work around. “A lot of brain-storming and out-of-the-box thinking was required to make this happen,” said Sarah Connell, environmental engineer with Shell Chemical.
This emphasizes one of the benefits of PEP membership. “PEP is great at bringing like-minded individuals together from different industries who normally wouldn’t work together,” Callahan said. Networking through PEP helps member organizations problem solve as a community, one project at a time.
Additional award recipients include ExxonMobil Mobile Bay for their greenhouse gas reduction plan to mitigate environmental impacts in Mobile Bay. Hargrove Engineers and Constructors will be recognized for their work with Kimberly-Clark’s Mobile Mill. Finally, PEP presented a Community Partner Award to Gulf State Park and M2 Solutions for the Gulf State Park Master Plan and Enhancement Project.