EWING, NJ… At its annual awards luncheon tomorrow in Atlantic City, Sustainable Jersey will publicly recognize the 38 New Jersey towns that earned the program’s certification this year for the substantial, measurable steps they took to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.
Towns that scored the most points for their sustainable initiatives and for significant accomplishments in categories such as leadership and innovation will also be presented with awards at the event, said Randall Solomon, co-director of the Institute for Sustainability Planning and Governance at The College of New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Center, a program partner.
Now in its second year, the state-wide certification program provides guidance and training to towns looking to achieve long-term sustainability goals by curbing pollution, conserving energy and water, reducing waste, and increasing recycling, among other measures. Significantly, the program gives municipalities the means to document their actions and links them to financial incentives to support them.
A total of 67 towns have earned certification since 2009. But a far greater number—more than 300 towns, or well over half the state’s municipalities—have registered with Sustainable Jersey and are either working toward certification or have achieved it.
“In 2008, there were a few municipalities working on sustainability issues. Now there are over 300. They are doing energy audits, removing toxic chemicals from their operations, greening their vehicle fleets, and much more. It is a remarkable change, and it shows that people at the local level want to do the right thing, and want to make change. They just need some help,” said Solomon.
This year, four communities—Galloway, Summit, West Windsor, and Woodbridge Townships—took significant action beyond the initial certification requirements, earning them the program’s new Silver Level recognition. Woodbridge Township, for example, published a 142-page handbook that contains information for residents, businesses, and government managers on energy conservation, fuel efficiency, green building for homes and businesses, landscaping, recycling, waste management, water conservation, and tax credits for sustainability initiatives.
“These four municipalities have demonstrated innovation, leadership and commitment to sustainable development through this achievement, ” said Donna Drewes, co-director of the MLUC’s Institute for Sustainability.
In addition to training, guidance, and documentation, Sustainable Jersey links municipalities with public and private sources of funding for sustainability measures. Since its inaugural year, the program has itself distributed more than $500,000 in program grants to New Jersey communities to help them implement programs.
Sustainable Jersey is a joint program of TCNJ’s Municipal Land Use Center and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, which work closely with two state agency partners, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
The program operates out of the MLUC’s Institute for Sustainability, which handles research and policy development as well as marketing and outreach. Staff at the Institute register towns seeking certification, offer them technical advice to implement their programs, provide grant money, and evaluate the measures they have taken. Since the program’s debut, Sustainable Jersey has also put on nearly 200 workshops and training sessions.
The awards luncheon is held as part of the League of Municipalities’ annual conference in Atlantic City.
For more information about Sustainable Jersey and this year’s certifications and awards, please contact Jennifer Sontupe at the Municipal Land Use Center at 609.771.2832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.