Environmental Initiative Awards

The 2019 Environmental Initiative Awards is our annual celebration of the people and projects working in partnership to make Minnesota’s environment healthier and create a more vibrant society.

This year’s event will honor seven award recipients — five projects and two individuals — during an inspiring night of networking and celebration with Minnesota’s environmental leaders. The evening will include a networking reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres, a seated program highlighting innovative efforts across Minnesota and an opportunity to meet people working at the intersection of a healthy environment, a prosperous economy and an equitable society.

For over 25 years, Environmental Initiative has worked across difference to create spaces where people can openly exchange ideas and build solutions to complex environmental challenges in partnership. The Environmental Initiative Awards celebrates that spirit of collaboration. We know the environmental challenges we face are linked to economic vitality and social equity. Our annual event celebrates those working to make improvements across the state to help us achieve our vision of a healthy environment, a prosperous economy and an equitable society.

The Results Are In

The 2019 Environmental Initiative Awards winners have been announced. Our panels of judges and the Environmental Initiative staff reviewed the nominations and reached consensus on winners. For more information on selection criteria and the judging process, see “Awards Eligibility” and “Judging Criteria” below. For more information on the winners, see our blog post.

  • Courageous Innovator, presented by Aveda — Dania Marin-Gavilan
  • Critical Collaborator, presented by Dorsey & WhitneyJ. Drake Hamilton
  • Energy and Climate, presented by Stoel RivesCU Green Clean Energy Lending Platform
  • Environmental Innovation, presented by 3M Three Rivers Climate Conversations
  • Rural Vitality, presented by Houston EngineeringPoplar River Management Board
  • Large Employer Sustainability, presented by WenckMinnesota State University–Mankato: Energy Savings and Sustainability
  • Small Employer Sustainability, presented by Barr EngineeringRural Grocery Stores: Energy and Access

2019 Award Categories

We are excited to honor collaborative environmental projects and individuals from across Minnesota in the following categories:

Courageous Innovator

The Courageous Innovator Award recognizes an individual under the age of 30 working in groundbreaking ways to build partnerships and innovate environmental solution-building.

Critical Collaborator

The Critical Collaborator Award recognizes an individual who has dedicated their career to solving environmental problems and created a lasting impact on Minnesota’s environment through partnership.

Energy and Climate

The Energy & Climate Award recognizes a partnership working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut energy consumption, advance energy efficiency or improve air quality. Projects may also include collaborative efforts to prepare Minnesota to adapt to a changing global climate.

Environmental Innovation

The Environmental Innovation Award recognizes a partnership working on the next environmental breakthrough.  While the impact of their work may not be seen immediately, winners of this future-facing award will be recognized for their creativity in solving an environmental challenge and the potential of their project or plan to ensure a prosperous economy, an equitable society and a healthy environment long into the future.

Rural Vitality

The Rural Vitality Award recognizes a partnership working to solve environmental challenges on a community scale in rural areas of under 10,000 residents. This could include grassroots efforts in revitalization or beautification, alternative land use strategies or policy initiatives that contribute to economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and improved quality of life.

Sustainable Leadership: Large Employer

The Sustainable Leadership: Large Employer Award recognizes a company larger than 500 employees that demonstrates collaborative efforts to pursue sustainable business practices or offer private-sector-based solutions to environmental challenges. The project should demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship, economic benefit and social equity.

Sustainable Leadership: Small Employer

The Sustainable Leadership: Small Employer Award recognizes a small business with fewer than 500 employees that demonstrates collaborative efforts to pursue sustainable business practices or offer private-sector-based solutions to environmental challenges. The project should demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship, economic benefit and social equity.

Awards Eligibility

Winners in each category will be honored and presented at the Awards ceremony and celebration on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at Nicollet Island Pavilion. Registration to attend the event is now open.

Guidelines for Project Awards

  • A partnership-based project refers to any two or more entities working collaboratively on a project with shared goals and outcomes. Entities could include government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private companies, community groups and/or individuals.
  • Projects nominated are either ongoing or the date of project completion is within two years (as of January 1, 2019).
  • Projects nominated, even if ongoing, have created a healthier environment and more vibrant society in Minnesota in relation to the project goals.
  • Projects nominated have taken place and demonstrated impacts in Minnesota.
  • If two or more nominations for the same project are received, judges will evaluate only the nomination that was received first. It is the nominator’s responsibility to communicate with other project partners to ensure the submission of a single, comprehensive project nomination.
  • Projects that have received significant financial resources or staff time from Environmental Initiative are not eligible for an award.
  • Only the information submitted via the nomination form will be used to evaluate project nominations. No supporting material (photos, videos, etc.) will be shared with judges.
  • Contact information will be added to Environmental Initiative’s database and email distribution list. Per our privacy policy, contact information will not be shared with any other organizations.

 

Nominate a Project

Guidelines for Individual Awards

  • Individuals nominated for the Courageous Innovator award must be under the age of 30.
  • Individuals nominated for the Critical Collaborator award may be any age.
  • Individuals nominated for either award have demonstrated leadership and environmental impacts in Minnesota.
  • Only the information submitted via the nomination form will be used to evaluate individual award nominations. No supporting material (photos, videos, etc.) will be shared with judges.
  • Contact information will be added to Environmental Initiative’s database and email distribution list. Per our privacy policy, contact information will not be shared with any other organizations.

Judging Criteria

Projects are judged by teams of Environmental Initiative stakeholders and community members. Individual awards are judged by the Environmental Initiative staff.

How Project Nominations are Evaluated

A panel of independent judges selected by Environmental Initiative will evaluate project nominations based on the following criteria:

  • Strength of partnership and degree to which collaboration across difference was leveraged to solve environmental problems;
  • Degree of results and environmental impacts associated with the project;
  • Degree of project innovation, uniqueness and groundbreaking action;
  • Degree to which equity was centered in the project development and execution of project.

 

Due to the broad nature of the award categories and types of projects submitted, each judging team determines the relative weight of the above criteria. The Environmental Initiative Awards seeks to inspire others to adopt collaborative and equity-centered approaches to environmental problem solving, so judges will also consider the degree to which the project can be built upon and replicated across the state.

Environmental Initiative monitors project nominations for potential conflicts of interests with individuals serving as judges. Conflicts are handled on a case-by-case basis. Judges may be asked to recuse themselves from evaluation and discussion of that specific project, or may be asked to leave the judging panel entirely, depending on the level of involvement of a judge with a project.

How Individual Award Nominations are Evaluated

Starting in 2017, Environmental Initiative began recognizing two individuals who have been influential and effective environmental leaders. Environmental Initiative staff will review nominations and select winners for the Courageous Innovator and Critical Collaborator awards based on the following criteria:

  • Ability of nominee to collaborate and solve problems across difference;
  • Degree of nominee’s positive impact on our environment, economy and community;
  • Skill of nominee to lead by centering people and building innovative relationships to solve environmental problems.