Earth Day To-Do List
With Earth Day earlier this week, New Jersey Green Teams have been in full swing hosting green fairs and events to encourage community members to live more sustainably. With over 120 sustainability actions in the Sustainable Jersey certification program, we have a lot of ways for municipalities to become more sustainable. Here are a few ideas to get your personal Earth Day to-do list started.
Plant a Tree
In order to replace trees damaged and destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery Campaign is kicking-off a multi-year campaign that will give away 500,000 trees to New Jersey residents.
This spring, 120,000 seedling trees are being distributed to residents in 18 counties to pave the way for restoration of New Jersey’s community forests for years to come. Sustainable Jersey connected our participating communities with the campaign to find municipalities and Green Teams to distribute the trees to the public. Seedlings are available on a first-come first-served basis; they come with instructions on how to store, care for and plant.
The Tree Recovery Campaign is a joint effort between the New Jersey State Forestry Service’s Community Forestry Program, the New Jersey Forest Nursery, New Jersey Soil Conservation Districts, Sustainable Jersey and the Arbor Day Foundation. Financial support for the program is being provided by the Arbor Day Foundation.
If you are interested in getting a free tree to plant, check the distribution events for a location near you: Tree Giveaway Schedule.
Trees are unarguably amazing, but if you need a list of benefits here are a few: trees improve the look of neighborhood and shopping districts, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, produce oxygen, remove air pollutants, reduce water runoff and provide wildlife habitat. With your help, we can restore the delicate tree and shoreline balance that makes New Jersey so unique.
Give Your House an Energy Check-Up
It’s time to schedule a check-up for a large energy consumer–your home. Your home is one of the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In New Jersey, the residential sector accounts for about 17 percent of the carbon emissions profile for the state as a whole.
The first step to make your home more energy efficient is to have an audit. Energy audits or assessments help you discover where and how your home is using energy inefficiently, and what can be done. The advantage of making changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency is that many of the changes do not involve a dramatic altering of your lifestyle. For example, changing your water heater temperature or sealing your windows is easy to do and has a big impact. You will save hundreds of pounds in carbon dioxide emissions.
You can find a professional energy auditor who, for a reasonable fee, will conduct a detailed audit of your home and use specialized equipment, like a blower door or an infrared camera, to find even the hard-to-detect problem areas. It takes about 3-4 hours and you are provided with customized recommendations and a plan to implement the changes.
The New Jersey Clean Energy Program has a rebate and loan program called Home Performance with ENERGY STAR to help homeowners implement the energy improvements. You can find a contractor to conduct the audit on the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR site or participate in one of the municipally led programs listed below.
Sustainable Jersey has two certification actions that guide municipalities through the process of creating a Town-Wide Home Energy Assessment Program and/or doing outreach to promote the program. Four Sustainable Jersey towns have done exemplary work by implementing a town-wide home energy assessment program and providing a recommended energy audit contractor. Highland Park, Woodbridge, Princeton and Glen Rock are working with a preferred home energy assessment provider that is currently offering a $49.00 home energy assessment.
Highland Park (Middlesex County): Sustainable Highland Park did one of the first pilot programs in 2012. Over the 15 month “In Our Power Highland Park” campaign, over 250 homes had audits performed with more than 60 homes implementing the recommended upgrades. Although the official program has ended, Highland Park residents can still take advantage of the $49.00 home energy assessment with the preferred energy audit contractor.
Woodbridge (Middlesex County): Greenable Woodbridge’s Home Energy Assessment Program has proven so successful that the town is planning a three year extension of the program. If you are a Woodbridge Township homeowner, you should learn more about the comprehensive home energy assessment available for $49.00. Watch this episode of Greenable Woodbridge that discusses the program: video link.
Princeton (Mercer County): Sustainable Princeton’s Energy Smart Homes Campaign started in 2013 and over 60 home audits have been done for residents’ homes with six homes completing upgrades. Princeton is also working with a preferred energy contractor that is offering a $49.00 comprehensive home energy assessment for its residents.
Glen Rock (Bergen County): Last month Glen Rock launched their program called Energy Smart Rock Homes and already over a dozen residents have signed up for audits. Glen Rock is also working with a preferred energy contractor that is offering a $49.00 comprehensive home energy assessment for its residents.
When you lower your energy use, you not only save money, but you help the environment by reducing pollution and greenhouse gases that are created by burning fuels and by the production of electricity. Individual choices can have an impact, and getting your home an energy audit and then implementing the improvements can have a significant impact.
Support Sustainable Jersey
You can also make a difference with a donation of your time or money! Consider making a donation to Sustainable Jersey this Earth Day to support sustainability in the State of New Jersey. Or, if you are interested in joining a Green Team, visit the participating communities’ page to see if your town is registered with Sustainable Jersey. Select your town’s profile and then reach out to the person listed as your town’s Sustainable Jersey contact. If you need help connecting with a Green Team, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.