BRIDGEPORT, CONN. – June 6, 2023 - On Saturday, June 3, the winners of the 13th annual Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards were announced during a ceremony held at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.
Aquarion received many nominations from all over the state, spanning five categories: Large and Small Business, Non-Profit Organization, Adult, and Student (Grades 9-12). These awards are designed to honor volunteer initiatives that have made substantial impacts on enhancing environmental quality by preserving, conserving, and rehabilitating Connecticut's water, air, soil, and habitats for plants and wildlife.
The distinguished winners from the Large and Small Business, Non-Profit, and Adult categories were each awarded a $5,000 grant to donate to the environmental non-profit of their choice. The winner of the Student category received a $1,000 award. The winners of the 2023 Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards are:
In October 2022, HMTX Industries, a global manufacturer of luxury vinyl tile and plank flooring products completed the construction of their new corporate headquarters in Norwalk, CT. Known as the "House Up on the Hill" (HUOTH), the headquarters was built to the "Living Building Challenge," one of the most stringent green building standards. HUOTH is a symbol of sustainability and innovation and is designed to be the greenest building in Connecticut. The headquarters features solar-powered mechanicals, rainwater collection, and zero red list ingredient materials for superior indoor air quality. The building harmoniously blends with the surrounding landscape, offering biophilic experiences and connections to nature. It houses design studios, galleries, and advanced product development spaces, fostering creativity and sustainability. The headquarters serves as an urban retreat, promoting well-being and inspiring a regenerative future.
Jones Family Farms, spanning 400 acres in Shelton's White Hills, has upheld a commitment to sustainable practices for over 150 years. Guided by founder Philip James Jones' philosophy of "Be good to the land and the land will be good to you," each generation has contributed their expertise to the diverse agricultural operation. Jamie Jones, a sixth-generation farmer, established Jones Winery in 1999, now renowned statewide. In 2021, Jamie furthered their sustainability efforts by investing in a solar array to power the winery. Alongside his family, Jamie is a respected leader in the industry, serving on various agricultural and winery organizations.
The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) leads successful programs to tackle trash and invasive plants in rivers. Two of their programs, “Source to Sea Cleanup” and “Paddle With a Purpose” engage hundreds of volunteers in caring for their local rivers. In 2022, over 37 tons of trash were removed by 126 cleanup groups across four states during the 26th annual Source to Sea Cleanup. Paddle With a Purpose events eliminated around 900,000 invasive water chestnut plants with the help of 50 partner organizations. These programs not only protect rivers and clean water but also foster community engagement and cultivate lifelong environmental stewards.
Norwalk resident Diane Lauricella has dedicated herself to protecting the community's health and natural resources. She began her environmental work as an intern with the First Taxing District Water Company, investigating pollution sources. As an Environmental Investigator for the CT DEEP Hazardous Materials Management Unit, she helped identify and remediate pollution sites. Through her involvement in various organizations, including the League of Women Voters and Sierra Club, she fought for environmental justice and advocated for sustainable practices. She also co-founded the Norwalk River Watershed Association and played a key role in preserving Norwalk’s Fodor Farm. She continues to contribute her expertise to promote waste management, clean energy, and other sustainability initiatives.
Hilary Holmgren is an environmentally passionate student who actively engages in projects related to the health of Long Island Sound. In addition to being a student at Stratford High School, she also attends the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture School where she has gained in-depth knowledge about society’s relationship with the aquatic environment. She has hands-on experience exploring the Sound, operating a school hatchery, and releasing salmon into the Connecticut River. Hilary has received recognition for her achievements, including being named an Outstanding Hatchery Manager and receiving the "Seaworthy Oceanographer" award. She played a pivotal role in restoring the Great Meadows Marsh in Stratford, planting native plants, removing invasives, and engaging with visitors. As a dedicated advocate for conservation, she plans to pursue a career in marine environments, prioritizing aquaculture and sustainable practices to protect aquatic ecosystems.
Photographs from Saturday’s ceremony are available at www.aquarionwater.com/docs/eca2023.
Aquarion Water Company is the public water supply company for more than 750,000 people in 72 cities and towns in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It is the largest investor-owned water utility in New England and among the seven largest in the U.S. Based in Bridgeport, CT, Aquarion has been in the public water supply business since 1857. Across its operations, Aquarion strives to act as a responsible steward of the environment and to assist the communities it serves in promoting sustainable practices. Aquarion Water Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eversource.