The week of Earth Day is typically marked by volunteer events and care for the outdoors. This year, while the April 22 events are canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the city of Dunwoody celebrated by naming its 2019 Sustainability Hero Award winners.

Mary Keesee took home the individual Sustainability Hero Award, while Griffith Engineering earned the corporate honor, the city announced April 21 in a press release. The city Sustainability Committee selected the award-winners “for their commitment to the environment and community,” the release said.

Mary Keesee, winner of the individual 2019 Sustainability Hero Award. (Special)

“Even in the midst of a pandemic, we want to recognize these leaders in sustainability,” committee chairman Michael Cowan said in the press release. “They serve as examples to all as we look more closely at the roles we play in supporting our community and protecting the environment.”

Keesee, a committee volunteer, earned the individual award for her contributions to a city watershed quality initiative. She collects weekly water samples from 10 collection sites in the city, including a Nancy Creek tributary under the Dunwoody MARTA Station, and delivers them to the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper lab.

“I feel like I am keeping myself accountable to sustainability every week when I deliver the samples for testing,” Keesee said in the press release. “I can educate people about the process when they see me taking the samples.”

Data collected from water samples in the last year has led DeKalb County to fix a pair of major sewage spills, the release said.

From left, John Nott, Chad Griffith and Christine Trovato of Griffith Engineering, the winner of the corporate Sustainability Hero Award. (Special)

Chad Griffith, a Dunwoody resident and the founder of Griffith Engineering, accepted the corporate award. The local engineering firm performed free energy audits for public park buildings across Dunwoody, helping the city to achieve Gold Certification for its Green Communities status with the Atlanta Regional Commission.

“It is great to see Dunwoody taking proactive steps to help ensure plans are in place to optimize future building and energy investments with long term sustainability goals in mind,” Griffith said in the press release. “Griffith Engineering is honored to have been given the opportunity to play a role in helping Dunwoody achieve the milestone of Gold Certification.”

In addition to its effort with the parks, a team from Griffith Engineering also spent a day volunteering at Dunwoody Nature Center to remove non-native invasive plants from the preserve.

The City Council will recognize the award-winners in a future meeting.

–Ryan Kolakowski