In Pursuit of Environmental Excellence: PENNDOT District 10's
Quest for a Greener Tomorrow
By James B. Struzzi II
PENNDOT Engineering District 10 Community Relations Coordinator
In 1998, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge issued the
Governor's Green Plan, an executive order that called for state
agencies to improve their environmental performance. Following
the lead of Transportation Secretary Brad Mallory, Engineering
District 10 has taken this initiative to heart by aggressively
implementing PENNDOT's Strategic Environmental Management Program
(SEMP) in pursuit of ISO 14001 certification by December 2002.
Nestled in the heart of rolling farmland and blue mountain
trout streams is the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's
five-county Engineering District 10. Visitors travel many miles
to enjoy what the many State parks, waterways and outdoor settings
in District 10 have to offer-a quality lifestyle set in an untouched
natural environment that still includes the occasional cry of
an eagle or the majestic image of a trophy buck.
District 10 intends to keep it that way. Encompassing Armstrong,
Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson counties in Western Pennsylvania,
a region known for its natural beauty and scenic ambiance, District
10 has a unique responsibility that requires maintaining a precarious
balance between serving its customers and preserving and protecting
The New Horizon
"We choose to live in these areas because we appreciate
the quality of life Western Pennsylvania provides," said
Richard H. Hogg, District Engineer. "Most of our employees
grew up hunting, fishing and hiking these same hills and valleys.
This country is what we value, and together we are learning
how to protect and preserve our homeland."
For many years, our society thought the Earth's supply of natural
resources was inexhaustible. We consumed and consumed with little
or no thought to conservation or protection until we realized
that what we value most in this nation, our quality of life,
would soon disappear if we continued our current course. Recognizing
an opportunity to become better environmental stewards and preserve
those qualities that the Keystone State represents, Pennsylvania
decided to take a stand.
District 10 has followed Secretary Mallory's lead by taking
this initiative to heart and aggressively implementing PENNDOT's
Strategic Environmental Management Program (SEMP). Although
the District has been growing more environmentally conscious
for the past several years, SEMP provides a comprehensive guide
to implementing a green policy that the District, at all employee
levels, can adhere to. Through implementation, the program sets
the direction of the District's environmental efforts and demonstrates
the commitment of PENNDOT's senior management in achieving this
goal. It also demonstrates PENNDOT's commitment to the people
"By implementing a Strategic Environmental Management
Program, we are listening to the voice of our customers,"
Hogg said. "Quality of life-environmental quality-is something
we must strive diligently to preserve."
The implementation and use of SEMP is more than a mere outline
for environmental controls; it is a systematic elevation of
District 10's environmental consciousness. All employees, through
education and training, will become stewards of the environment.
This means the District, through compliance with Federal and
State environmental laws and regulations, will manage hazardous
waste and materials, protect wetlands and sensitive streams
and assess the environmental impacts of construction projects.
It also involves conserving resources (fuel, deicing materials,
stone, paper and electricity), recycling and reducing wastes
and reducing the amount of pollutants released in the air, water,
groundwater and soil.
SEMP identifies six Green Plan policy principles that the District
- Protect the environment and use resources efficiently.
- Continually identify ways to improve our performance.
- Set performance objectives and measure progress.
- Make sure employees understand these principles and furnish
the means to fulfill them.
- Comply with environmental requirements.
- Use environmental performance improvement to meet customer
By strict adherence to these principles, District 10 will transform
its internal processes to better meet and serve the needs of
the environment and Pennsylvania residents.
Where Does SEMP Guide District 10?
Led by Assistant District Administrator for Maintenance James
E. Slaugenhoup, District 10 has pledged to become the first
PENNDOT Engineering District to obtain International Organization
for Standards (ISO) 14001 registration in three maintenance
areas-winter maintenance, stockpile management, and erosion
and sedimentation control-by December 2002. ISO is a non-governmental,
international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, with
more than 100 member bodies, or countries.
PENNDOT's maintenance forces are the front line workers who
work directly on the roadways. Their efforts directly impact
the environment. Through SEMP, District 10 is making that impact
a positive interaction.
"We are committed to this goal throughout all five county
maintenance organizations and the District Office," Slaugenhoup
said. "It is our responsibility to PENNDOT's customers
in District 10 to obtain ISO registration. We have learned to
value our natural resources and achieving this goal will demonstrate
our commitment to preserving them."
ISO registration means the District has demonstrated, through
management initiatives and the deployment of best practices,
systematic targets and goals for its environmental performance.
It signifies the District's steadfast commitment to environmental
Slaugenhoup's goals for District 10's maintenance unit include
the formation of SEMP implementation teams in each county. These
groups are charged with mapping processes, training, communication
and measurement to ensure each organization is on target for
environmental performance success. The process to obtain ISO
registration began last year.
The Future for Greener PENNDOT
"The bottom line for District 10 can be summarized
in one phrase, 'Be a good neighbor,'" Hogg said. "We
are a large part of the communities we serve. By becoming leaders
in environmental stewardship, we are enhancing and protecting
the world we live in. What could be more important than that?"
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