Washington, D.C. — McKim & Creed, Inc., of Wilmington, N.C., earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 52nd annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for the Melinda K. Knoerzer Adaptive Ecosystem Reclamation project in Pender County, N.C.

The Knoerzer facility is the first municipal wastewater treatment system of its kind to be installed in the southeastern U.S. The system uses natural processes, rather than energy-intensive chemical methods, to treat and recycle 500,000 gallons of high-strength wastewater per day generated by Acme Smoked Fish and other businesses at Pender Commerce Park.

Within a 3,000-square-foot hydroponic glass greenhouse, the Knoerzer facility creates an environment where beneficial bacteria and microorganisms can flourish within natural ecosystems. Low-maintenance, hardy plants fill the greenhouse and produce long, dense root systems that thrive in wastewater. These roots serve as a natural habitat for as many as 3,000 different microorganisms, forming a unique ecosystem that breaks down waste. By using ecosystems to quickly treat large quantities of wastewater in small spaces using low amounts of energy, the Knoerzer facility offers an attractive, cost-effective alternative for fostering economic development while also safeguarding the environment.

The project is among 196 engineering achievements from throughout the nation and the world being recognized by ACEC as the year’s finest examples of engineering excellence, and eligible for additional top national honors. Judging for the awards program — known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry” — took place in February, conducted by a national 30-member panel of built environment leaders, along with experts from government, the media and academia. Award criteria focuses on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top commendations — 20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement — will take place at the annual EEA Dinner and Gala, a black-tie event to be held Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.