Green Awards grow in depth and spirit

Executive Chef Randall Smith of the Best Western Clock Tower Resort & Conference Center and CoCo Key Water Resort discusses all things green with Andrea Hazzard, owner of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Hazzard Free Farms and representative of one of last year's winners "First Hand Havest," a consortium of local organic and natural CSA farms. Photo by Jon McGinty

Rock Valley College wins big with two awards

By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher

From the outside to the inside, fun was had by the more than 200 people attending the Third Annual Winnebago County Green Business Awards (WCGBA) Thursday, Oct. 7, 4:30 to 7 p.m., at the Webbs Norman Center, 401 S. Main St., Rockford.

Thanks to all who attended, sponsored, and supported the Third Annual Winnebago County Green Business Awards, the winners are:

1.  Honorable Mention—Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful

2.  Continuing Improvement—Anderson Packaging

3.  Green Building—Rock Valley College Physical Education Center/Saavedra Gehlhausen Architects

4.  Public Policy—Rock Valley College Associates Degree—Renewable Energy

5.  Small Agency—Comprehensive Community Solutions/YouthBuild Rockford

6.  Large Agency—Rockford Park District

7.  Small Business—Tyler’s Landscaping Services, Inc.

8.  Large Business—J.L. Clark

This year’s expo and awards were quite a show, not only in content, but in visuals.

Outside of the building, on Green Street, were staged a winged Universal Hovercraft (that caused quite a stir, hovering off its trailer to a parking spot), green cars including a Chevy Equinox from Lou Bachrodt Auto Mall; a Ford Fusion from Anderson’s Rock River Ford,  a classic Honda CR-X from Napleton Mercedes Benz, a Triton Trike (a custom three-wheeled car) from North Main Auto Services, several Rockford Park District “Green” Vehicles (remember E-85?) and a shrouded wind turbine from Rockford Renewable Energy.

Once inside the park district headquarters’ long, cavernous lobby, visitors could explore several rows of tables displaying the sustainable products of 64 green businesses, which ranged from an electric hovercraft to a soft-bladed wind turbine designed to eject birds rather than chop them. The presentations were excellent, including some incredible aromas coming from the far end of the hall.

Along with an amazing taste line-up of Green beverages and dishes from Bella Luna Bakery, DiTullio’s, Giovanni’s, Jada Bug, Kiki B’s, Massbach Ridge Winery, Octane, Rock Valley Culligan, and SociaL Urban Bar & Restaurant, Executive Chef Randall Smith, from the Best Western Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center and CoCo Key Water Resort, sautéed his entry in the “Green Dish Competition” right on site, using fresh ingredients he purchased that morning at the Roscoe’s Main Street Square  Farmers’ Market!

After “green” (as in amateur) taste testing by this writer and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott H. Christiansen (R), and reviews of ingredients, Smith won second place, Giovanni’s won third place and SOCIAL Urban Bar & Restaurant  won first place in the competition. The “People’s Choice” Award was won by Smith and the Clock Tower, by beating out Giovanni’s by only one vote! Each week we will release the recipes of these superb “Green Dishes.” See page A5 for the recipe for Social’s entry, and go to for the rules and further posting, including all of this year’s winners and their nominations.

Hosted for the third year in a row by the Register Star’s talented Brian Leaf, the award ceremony’s first featured speaker was Chairman Christiansen. We will feature a summary he provided of his remarks this week. Next week, we will present the remarks made at the awards by City of Rockford Stormwater Program Manager Brian Eber, and the following week, we will present the featured speakers Matt Wieneke and Scott Gear from Second Rain Integrated Rainwater Collection.

Listening to all these talks and collecting fine experiences, the CCS/YouthBuild Rockford volunteers were also very professional, inquiring and extremely helpful to all. Some of these volunteers were: Kovarick Beasley, James Box, Desiree Bradford, Keshad Dismuke, John Fayhee, Tony Frazier, Chris Sanchez, Aqual Sockwell, Quentin Tolefree, Cliff Wright and Pamela Echols, their Community Service Coordinator for CCS. Everyone was very proud of these great young people!

Joel Neumann (inventor of the soft-bladed wind turbine and a micro-hydro turbine) and I announced a “Micro-Hydro Power from the Rock River Contest” for all elementary, secondary and junior colleges, colleges, universities, manufacturers and design firms in the 10 counties that host the course of the Rock River. The goal is to produce a regional American renewable energy production. See the contest rules on page A5. This effort is to stress the positive production of water power, rather than the negative results from runoff we see too often. Buy rain barrels!

The theme of this year’s Green Business Awards was “Wind, Rain, Earth, Sun and Stormwater,” focusing on the control of stormwater to prevent flooding.

Chairman Christiansen’s remarks, “Winnebago County’s Stormwater Management Program,” are summarized as follows:

The county’s program is enhancing design and construction of detention facilities to reduce peak flows in ditches and streams, and reduce chances of erosion and creation of water-borne pollution.

This includes installing riprap and grouted riprap to protect spillways, ditches and channels from soil erosion, which reduces chances of erosion and creation of water-borne pollution.

Watershed Improvement Planning includes grant applications for Madigan Creek watershed and Welworth-Wentworth area . Community education about sustainable stormwater management practices is also under way.

The Unified Development Ordinance of the 2030 Land Use Plan combines incentives and requirements for sustainable stormwater management, including: Green roofs, collection and reuse of gray water, and stormwater harvesting to collect rainfall.

Roof  gutters, concrete patios, driveways, parking lots and other impervious surfaces produce runoff that can be stored in cisterns or rain barrels. The real solution is more permeable paved surfaces.

Bioretention areas are crucial with the installation of soil- and plant-based filtration devices that remove pollutants by a natural community of plants, microbes and soil.

The use of bioswales absorb low flows or carry runoff from heavy rains. Native shrubs and grasses build soil structure and allow water to infiltrate into the ground more easily than non-natives.

The incorporation of rain gardens provides natural or shallow dug depressions designed to capture and soak up stormwater runoff. Rain gardens should be planted with suitable trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants, allowing runoff to soak into the ground and protect water quality.

Flow-through planters are also good as structures or containers with impervious bottoms, or they can be placed on impervious surfaces that do not infiltrate into the ground.

Filter strips are also advantageous as vegetated areas, treating sheet flow by intercepting or trapping field sediment, organics, nutrients, pesticides and/or other potential pollutants from adjacent impervious areas.

Tree box filters can be used, too. They are in-ground containers, typically containing street trees in urban areas.

Natural detention basin designs with soil additives or amendments minimize development impacts on native soils by restoring infiltration capacity and chemical characteristics. After soils have been amended, their improved physical, biological and hydrological characteristics will make them more effective agents of stormwater management.

Construction and maintenance of roads using recycled materials is another major goal.

The development of a traffic signal lighting project will include design and installation of a progressive traffic signal system, which will replace incandescent bulbs with LED lighting, reduce delays for vehicles, reduce energy costs for lighting, and reduce overall energy needs and pollution emissions.

Construction of roundabouts (traffic circle) will include: design and anticipated construction of a second roundabout besides the one at Main and Auburn streets. Preliminary planning is under way for up to seven more roundabouts. They reduce vehicle delay times and result in reduced energy needs and pollution emissions.

Winnebago County has been, and will continue to be, involved in a variety of activities to improve stormwater management practices and increase green infrastructure development.

Editor’s note: This year, Chairman Christiansen was inducted into the National, State of Illinois and Chicago Environmental Hall of Fame,  by myself, this paper and the Illinois Renewable Energy Association as previous inductees.

Also, please see page B2 for all the fine organizations and people that made this year’s Green Awards possible.

From the Oct. 13-19, 2010 issue

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