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E3C Program

The Encouraging Environmental Excellence for Communities (E3C) recognizes a community’s exceptional achievements in environmental stewardship. Any local government of Ohio can be recognized for its commitment to environmental excellence. Applications are evaluated using environmental stewardship and related activities developed by Ohio EPA.

The E3C program was launched by Ohio EPA in 2021 to recognize sustainability achievements in local governments and communities within Ohio. The E3C Award is intended to award communities that are working to “green the government” while supporting businesses and residents to encourage sustainability. The goal of environmental stewardship is to reduce the impact of business or organizational activities on the environment beyond measures required by any permit or rule, producing a better environment, conserving natural resources and resulting in long-term economic benefits. 

Award Criteria

Ohio EPA evaluates E3C applications according to their impact in each of three categories: economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Each category is listed below with examples of applicable activities, however actions not specifically listed may still qualify under one of the three sustainability categories.

Economic Sustainability

  • Sponsored buy local program including local farmers markets.
  • Implemented energy efficiency program for the community (may put emphasis on low-income residents).
  • Implemented a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program, or a similar program, to support community energy efficiency and renewable projects.
  • Implemented an internal revolving loan fund, or similar financing tool, for local government environmental projects.
  • An economic sustainability project not specifically listed, please provide a description of the project.

Social Sustainability

  • Participated in community outreach on environmental issues.
  • Published an annual environmental action or progress report for distribution to community members.
  • Created a program to reduce the number of commuters driving alone to support sustainable transportation (for example, ride share program, installation or improvements to public/mass transit infrastructure).
  • Developed community garden project.
  • Implemented a program to address food security issues.
  • Developed greenways and conservation areas.
  • Implemented and encouraged the use of bike paths and right-of-way.
  • Created a community sustainability team.
  • Implemented a program to encourage local government employees to reduce their environmental footprint at work.
  • Participated in regionalization of public water systems.
  • Codified building standards that address potential environmental emergencies (for example, high wind resistance, 500-year flood proof, etc.).
  • Implemented a community sustainability plan.
  • Incorporated sustainability targets and indicators into an existing community master plan that has measurable targets.
  • A social sustainability project not specifically listed, please provide a description of the project.

Environmental Sustainability

  • Implemented a climate action or adaptation plan.
  • Adopted a sustainable development strategy (for example, zoning requirements) to minimize environmental impacts.
  • Implemented program to encourage recycling and/or waste reduction.
  • Developed community composting program.
  • Host a hazardous waste collection day(s) for hard to recycle materials.
  • Implemented green infrastructure into capital improvement project Sponsored a zero-waste event.
  • Participate in U.S. EPA’s WasteWise to minimize waste, expand recycling and increase the purchasing of recycled content products.
  • Use Green Seal cleaning and chemical products on community properties.
  • Implemented a sustainable vendor program or sustainable purchasing program (for example, a purchasing policy for green or more environmentally cleaning products).
  • Participated in LEED for cities and communities program (is a recognized municipality or uses their tracker program).
  • Buildings or renovations are LEED-Certified or equivalent.
  • Participate in U.S. EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager or Energy Star Buildings Program.
  • Implemented combined heat and power, alternative energy or energy efficiency upgrades in community facilities (for example, VFDs in blowers at POTWs, lighting retrofits to LEDs in city buildings).
  • Uses a power purchase agreement to ensure community energy purchase is from a renewable source.
  • Replaced local government traffic signals, street lighting, and/or parking illumination with energy efficient lighting technologies (for example, LEDs and other technologies of equal or greater efficiency).
  • Operates on a micro-grid (for distributed electricity generation sources).
  • Implemented a program to encourage renewable energy projects (for example, renewable energy ordinance or zoning overlay districts) or to reduce barriers to installing renewable energy in the community.
  • Installed renewable energy projects (for example, wind, solar, geothermal, heat pumps, biogas, hydro).
  • Purchased alternative fuel or electric vehicles.
  • Purchased vehicles with anti-idling technology.
  • Implemented an anti-idling policy.
  • Is a Tree City participant (perform a tree canopy assessment and has a plan in place to maintain or increase tree canopy).
  • Implemented a program to place buffer strips and other best management practices in the agricultural landscape that effectively mitigate the movement of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides within farm fields and from farm fields.
  • Implemented farmland preservation.
  • Implemented an integrated pest management system for the community with a focus on protecting pollinators.
  • Implemented an ecological protection policy (for example, nutrient management, pesticide application, endemic species, etc.).
  • Implemented strategic planning for watershed management to sustainably manage water resources including flood prevention that utilize sustainable practices to mitigate flooding.
  • Restored natural waterways and habitats.
  • An environmental sustainability project not specifically listed, please provide a description of the project.

Recognition

Communities may receive one of three award tiers based on their commitment to Environmental Excellence: Implementation Level, Stewardship Level, or Sustainable Level. Ohio EPA may request additional information from an applicant if we feel an organization is close to achieving a higher tier award. The criteria for each award and the benefits for receiving each are listed below.

Organizations receiving E3C program recognition can reapply for the same or different levels of recognition. Applicants need to demonstrate significant improvement if applying for a higher level (for example, E3C Implementation to Stewardship) or complete different or unique activities in their new application (for example, reapplying for E3C Stewardship in a following year). We recommend reaching out to E3C program staff if you are interested in reapplying to discuss progress and improvements which may qualify for a new award.Applicants interested in receiving additional recognition may only need to submit updated or partial information.

Implementation Level

To receive an Implementation level E3C award, communities must complete one activity under the Environmental Sustainability category.

Implementation Level Benefits

Implementation Level award winners will receive: 

  • A certificate of recognition signed by the Director.

  • A listing on the Ohio EPA website.

  • A decal with the E3C logo to display at the applicant’s location.

Stewardship Level

To receive a Stewardship Level E3C award, communities must complete one activity in the economic category, one activity in the social category, and two activities in the environmental category.

Stewardship Level Benefits

Stewardship Level awardees will receive:

  • A certificate of recognition signed by the Director.

  • A listing on the Ohio EPA website.

  • Program highlights in Ohio EPA publications.

  • A decal with the E3C logo to display at the applicant’s location.


Sustainable Level

To receive a Sustainable Level E3C award, communities must complete two activities in the economic category, two activities in the social category, and four activities in the environmental category.

Sustainable Level awardees will receive:

  • A certificate of recognition signed by the Director.

  • A listing on the Ohio EPA website.

  • Program highlights in Ohio EPA publications.

  • A decal with the E3C logo to display at the applicant’s location.

  • An E3C flag to hang at the recipient’s location.

Submitting your Application and Questions

E3C applications are accepted at any time and must be filled out online at our Customer Support Center. Any local government of Ohio can be recognized for its commitment to environmental excellence.

Compliance Requirements

To qualify for an E3C award, applicant organizations must be in compliance with environmental laws and regulations for at least one year prior to submittal of their application, and for the duration of the application review process. Ohio EPA will perform a compliance evaluation to ensure the organization is eligible to receive an E3C award.

Site Visits

Organizations with particularly impressive applications may be asked to host a site visit. The purpose of this site visit is to provide reviewers with a better understanding of the organization's environmental stewardship, to view the activities described in the application in operation, and to clarify information provided in the application. A team of two or more Ohio EPA reviewers will conduct the site visit and collect information to determine the award level earned. Evaluation criteria for the site visit are the same as those for the written application.

Contact April Stevens in the Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance at (614) 644-3783, (april.stevens@epa.ohio.gov) or our hotline at (800) 329-7518 if you have any questions.

Award Winners

Sustainable

Stewardship

2021

  • Clinton Township (Franklin County)

  • City of Dublin (Franklin County)

  • City of Westerville Energy Division (Franklin County)

Implementation

2021

  • Bradford Wastewater (Miami County)

  • Greater Cincinnati Water Works (Hamilton County)

  • Northwestern Water and Sewer District Bowling Green (Wood County)

  • City of Upper Arlington (Franklin County)

  • City of Willard WWTP (Huron)