The has had a growing emphasis over the past several years on environmental best practices, as well as encouraging residents to go green.
Most recently, kicked off Babylon’s pledge to the Sierra Club-sponsored Mayors’ Climate Initiative by pledging to reduce its carbon footprint 12 percent by 2012. To this end, Babylon’s been purchasing 10 percent of its energy from wind and made of all of its passenger vehicles hybrids since 2005, according to town officials.
In 2006 the town adopted a comprehensive green building code, requiring all new commercial and industrial construction larger than 4,000 square feet to be LEED-certified, said town officials. The same year Babylon and Brookhaven required ENERGY Star standards for new home construction; eleven of thirteen Long Island municipalities have followed suit, officials further noted.
These efforts and others, started largely under the direction of Bellone, have garnered much attention.
In fact, according to the town, Bellone most recently received a 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Quality Award, and in 2009 he was honored as Public Figure of the Year by the Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and as Environmentalist of the Year by the Sierra Club’s Long Island Group.
Bellone has spoken about Babylon’s Green Homes Program at the Good Jobs/Green Jobs National Conference in Washington, DC, and has spoken at the World Economic Forum, the GreenTown Conference in Grand Rapids, MI, and a host of green and environmental conferences throughout the United States.
The program was originally crafted several years ago to focus on energy efficiency retrofits since, according to the town, existing building stock constituted the vast majority of Babylon’s carbon footprint (residential, 38 percent, and commercial, 26 percent). To date, 350 homes in Babylon have been retrofitted, or are in the queue to be retrofitted, through the program.
That program and the efforts of the town’s Department of Environmental Control and Department of Public Works – which is hoping to break ground on Geiger Botanical Garden in Wyandanch in the next two months – were on display with other eco-friendly vendors within the town, on the island and in the state at the town’s at town hall May 7.
The centerpiece of the was the Babylon Covantage EcoTech Scholarships that were given out to students within the town.
These scholarships, totaling approximately $3,150, are the result of the partnership between the town and Covanta, which for the past 20 years has operated the town’s resource recovery facility located by the town’s old landfill.
The facility sucks contaminated water from the aquifer under the landfill. The facility’s incinerator then incinerates waste, and the generated heat energy is used to turn wastewater into steam. The steam then turns a series of turbines, which yields electricity that’s sold to LIPA. The steam then turns back into water free from contamination.
The Babylon Covantage EcoTech scholarship program is in its fourth year, and designed to encourage students’ scientific interest as well as the interest in creating practical applications of green technology via research and experiments.
Students in the town are encouraged to send in papers and research featuring an environmental focus they are already doing for science fairs via their school districts to be eligible, according to Town Energy Director Dorian Dale.
“This helps give science a push, and encourages students interested in science,” he said, adding that the program also provides a way to encourage students, parents and teachers to think about the environment.
Their work is reviewed, and the winners are announced at the Earth Day Celebration. This year’s winners included several students from the Babylon School District: Emma Schubert, Amanda Cohen, Jedidiah Dale, Isabella Alonso and Drew Christensen.
Adding to the town’s green efforts is its Wyandanch Rising Initiative, which was one of 10 projects awarded the 2010 Affordable Green Neighborhoods Grant. It recognizes projects that have affordable green housing components in their plans to pursue LEED for Neighborhood Development.
USGBC’s LEED for Neighborhood Development integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism and green building, and benefits communities by reducing urban sprawl, increasing transportation choice and decreasing automobile dependence, encouraging healthy living and protecting threatened species, according to the town. The Wyandanch Rising project is expected to be one of the first LEED ND projects in the region, the town added.