Fifteen Iowa businesses and groups have been honored with "Environmental Excellence Awards."

The Vermeer Corporation of Pella was honored for its environmental record, as was an auto body shop in Davenport. Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Rich Leopold  says Arnold’s Body Shop is a trend-setter.

"Arnold’s was the first Iowa-based body shop to switch to water-based coatings from solvent-based coatings," Leopld says. "As a result hazardous materials and paints and hazardous air pollutants have both been significantly reduced."

The Holiday Lake Owners Association of Brooklyn, Iowa and the City of North Liberty were honored for water quality efforts. Muscatine Power and Water as well as the Dupont facility in Fort Madison were recognized for helping to reduce the amount of garbage destined for landfills. Leopold praised all the winners.

"As someone who witnesses daily the effects that we have on the environment, both positive and negative, it is inspiring and rewarding to me to see iowa’s businesses, schools, organizations and citiszens make environmental protection a priority."

Governor Chet Culver handed out the awards during a ceremony in his statehouse office.

"These award winners have proven that the economy and the environment can go hand-in-hand," Culver said, "and that the opportunities for our state are only enhanced, not limited, when we consider natural resources in our decisions."

A Mason City company that makes hollow metal doors and door frames was honored for changes made in production that have dramatically lowered energy costs. The Buffalo Bill Museum in Le Claire, Iowa, was honored for the energy-efficient structure it built to protect the Lone Star, a 19th century riverboat. Three utility companies were honored, too, and two environmental education programs were singled out for recognition.