History of The Vermont Environmental Consortium
The Vermont Environmental Consortium Began With Governor Howard Dean
In 1999, Governor Dean led a trade mission to Taiwan, which included several Vermont environmental companies. During this mission, the Chinese Petroleum Company proposed a major joint venture to allow Vermont firms to pursue pollution remediation contracts throughout East Asia. Upon returning to Vermont, Governor Dean proposed that the Agency of Commerce, the US Dept. of Commerce, and the Vermont World Trade Office work with environmental firms to explore this opportunity. The genesis and concept of a Vermont Environmental Consortium was born when it was clear that the proposal was beyond the capacity and resources of any single Vermont environmental company.
With a grant from the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF), VEC was established as a Vermont non-profit in June 2001 Norwich University served as an administration support mechanism for VEC.
As the next step, VEC hired a full-time executive director in 2004 with funding from the Vermont Department of Public Service, Vermont Technology Council, and Vermont Chamber of Commerce. From 2004 until 2008, VEC launched a series of workshops, conferences, and educational videos funded by these and other public and private sources.
In 2008, as the economy limited funding for VEC, it reverted once more to an organization run by a volunteer board of directors. With grants from the US Department of Energy, the Reduces Foundation, the Vermont Community Foundation, memberships, sponsorships and income from its conferences, VEC successfully launched two significant projects — research into the feasibility of a biodigester heating plant for Vermont Technical College and the Green Survey, a survey of the workforce training needs for jobs in Vermont’s green business sector. VEC also had funding from the State of Vermont, allocated by the Vermont legislature and administered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
In 2012, VEC’s administrative functions were assumed by Ghostwriters Communications. Also in 2012, VEC conducted a survey and published final report of prevailing industry rates for environmental consulting, environmental equipment rental and laboratory analysis in an effort to update the reimbursement rates used for the Petroleum Cleanup Fund (PCF). They held their first Spring Water Quality Conference in March at Middlebury College in partnership with the VT Department of Environmental Conservation and VT Agency of Agriculture focusing on public policy tools used to address agricultural water pollution in Lake Champlain. They then held the VEC 2012 EXPO on Brownfields Successes in September at a rehabilitated industrial building in Springfield, VT. VEC completed the Elizabeth Mine Solar PV Pre Feasibility Study, partnering with the Strafford VT Energy Commission, and published a final report.
In 2013, VEC held their 2nd Annual VEC Spring Water Quality Conference in March in Burlington and contracted with the State of Vermont Department of Labor (DOL) to develop a Green Careers Website, providing a “one-stop shop” web portal to the latest information on starting or finding a career in the environmental business sector in Vermont (www.vermontgreencareers.org). They also held a Fall Trade Show: Celebrating Entrepreneurship in Vermont’s Environmental & Energy Business Sectors in Rutland, VT.
On June 4, 2014 almost 130 people gathered on a beautiful summer day on the waterfront of Lake Champlain at Main Street Landing in Burlington for VEC’s Third Annual Water Quality Conference. At the event Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law legislation that sets new permitting standards for building within 250 feet of the state’s lake shorelines, The Shoreland Protection Act, which will take effect July 1 and applies to all lakes and ponds greater than 10 acres in size.
In 2015, VEC and VTC held the 4th Annual Water Quality Conference on Friday, May 29 at the Vermont Tech in Randolph, VT. We examined some of the organizational structures and innovative approaches that have succeeded and might be applied to improvement of water quality.