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NASA Langley Awarded for a Clear Environmental Commitment
By: Denise Lineberry

For the first time, NASA's Langley Research Center received a gold-level 2012 Governor's Environmental Excellence Award for implementation of the "revitalization through sustainability" concept for the campus. Winners were announced by Governor Bob McDonnell on April 11.

The awards recognize the significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders in three categories: environmental projects, environmental programs and land conservation. They are given to businesses and industrial facilities, not-for-profit organizations and government agencies.

Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award.
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NASA's Langley Research Center received a gold-level 2012 Governor's Environmental Excellence Award for implementation of the "revitalization through sustainability" concept for the campus. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

George Finelli, Langley's center operations director, traveled to the 23rd Environment Virginia Symposium in Lexington to receive the award on behalf of the center. Overall, 26 businesses and organizations received awards, ranging from honorable mention to gold. Langley was one of five to receive a gold award.

Speaking about the awards, Governor McDonnell remarked, "The accomplishments of these award winners are truly impressive. They demonstrate a clear commitment to improve our environment and make the lives of all Virginians better."

As Finelli explained, an environmental group at Langley prepared the write-up for the center to be considered.

"I'm very proud and very amazed. It’s a lot of people, doing a lot of good things here," Finelli said. "The sustainability planning was set in motion a long time ago and Langley's environmental group has been keeping at it for many years.

"Quite frankly, it’s going to be tough to put a write-up like this together again."

The write-up included the 15-year repair-by-replacement upgrade project known as New Town. After New Town's expected completion in 2020, NASA Langley will have six new buildings and two rehabilitated buildings. These buildings will be energy efficient and sustainable. Parking, pedestrian paths, campus image, climate considerations and circulation are all elements that are being taken into consideration with New Town.

But according to Finelli, it was the "in between" projects, such as the street lights being upgraded to LED lights, the solar field and retro-fitted mechanical systems and HVAC system upgrades in a number of buildings, that stood out and showed “tangible improvements.”

The award also cited Langley’s efforts to conserve water and make the core campus a walkable community.

Being involved with these efforts as they’ve come to fruition has revealed many benefits to Finelli. For one, the community of practice that comes with being in a "facility world." NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Kennedy Space Center have sat in on meetings with Langley representatives to get a better understanding for making proactive, efficient decisions regarding their own facilities.

Also, Langley partnerships, such as U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) with NewTown and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with demolition, add value, according to Finnelli.

Most importantly, Finelli believes that sustaining the center is “the right thing to do,” with or without recognition.

"Sustainability isn't just a word," he said. "We want to sustain the center and continue to contribute as it has in the past, as well as build that into the future as well as we can."

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman