The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 2 honored Medford Township Public Schools in Medford, N.J., with its highest public recognition. Medford’s comprehensive environmental initiatives, which include the use of many biobased products such as soy-backed Signature Accord Carpet, earned the 2016 Environmental Champion Award.
In 2014, Medford installed Signature Accord’s Yellowstone Collection Carpet, which get both its name, and inspiration for its beautiful patterns from the park. The collection features 100% regenerated solution dyed nylon fiber made by Aquafil USA and Bio-Cel backing, which is created by Universal Textile Technologies. Bio-Cel is made with U.S. soybean oil to reduce the petroleum content. The carpet backing also uses the 43 tons of plastic bottles left by the park’s more than 3 million annual visitors. These recycled and renewable materials comprise 80% of the carpet’s weight.
"A mentor once taught me that: Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by someone doing it,” said John McIntosh, vice president of sales for Signature Accord.  “For years our industry’s value proposition to the K-12 school market has been “low price.” Joe Biluck and his team challenged that paradigm, understanding that not only does Signature’s Yellowstone Collection create a lower cost of ownership carpet solution for the school system, but more importantly inspires students to believe they can truly make a difference in the world, something “low price” will never do.” 
Medford’s transition to biobased products resulted from its success with biodiesel fuel and other sustainability initiatives, such as on-site solar electric generation and geothermal HVAC systems. Many of these biobased products use soybean oil as an ingredient to replace or reduce petroleum content.  
“It was a natural progression to biobased products,” explains Medford’s director of operations and technology, Joe Biluck, who led the effort. “Using biobased products creates a healthier environment for the building occupants and reduces and/or eliminates the presence of Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s) in our schools.”
Medford’s commitment to sustainability runs deep and carries over to student education as well. Signature accord vice president John McIntosh had the opportunity to speak to a select group of 7th and 8th grade students, who are part of Medford’s Citizen Science Education Program (CSEP), about the inspiration and motivation that leads to products like the Yellowstone Collection. His comments resonated with this young audience making a lasting impression.
“I completely agreed with you when you said, ‘Doing the right thing is not an option.’ I really think people need to understand that because if we don’t act on problems now, they are never going to get better,” said one of the students, Madison McGehrin, in a thank you letter to McIntosh.
Another student, Jake Kozmar, added in his letter, “It amazes me that Yellowstone had a problem and you turned that problem into a solution that benefited the park and yourself.”
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