Sustainable Jersey: New Jersey Towns Provide Hope Through Local Action

Posted on by Randall Solomon, Co-Director, Sustainable Jersey

Woodbridge, Ewing and Bordentown City rise above

SJ1 Last week, Sustainable Jersey announced the recipients of the 2016 Sustainable Jersey special awards and the 74 towns that have achieved certification. The announcement was made at the 8th Annual Sustainable Jersey Luncheon held during the New Jersey League of Municipality Conference in Atlantic City.

I am so thankful for the positive energy I felt from the green teams at this event. In the wake of a hotly contested national election, it reminded me that at the local level Sustainable Jersey transcends party and ideology and is a unifying force.

In 2012 we did an analysis of the political makeup of participating communities. What we found is that the proportion of Sustainable Jersey municipalities led by Republicans, Democrats and independents matches the overall rates of party identification for the leadership of New Jersey communities.

At the local level, Sustainable Jersey is a group of good hearted people doing amazing things to help their communities. From efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve public health, stimulate local economies, increase resiliency and more, towns are making progress toward a better tomorrow. The actions implemented in New Jersey municipalities this year have been exceptional.

Three towns were awarded the Sustainability Champion award which recognizes municipalities that have scored the most points in the Sustainable Jersey certification program in three population categories (large, medium and small).

Woodbridge Township, Middlesex County

Woodbridge Township, located in Middlesex County, has a population of nearly 100,000 people. The Township received the Sustainability Champion award for a sixth year in our large population category. Led by Chief of Staff Caroline Ehrlich, this township has such an extensive sustainability program that it is listed with the top sustainable communities in the nation. Caroline Ehrlich also received the 2016 Art Ondish Leadership award this year for her tireless pursuit of sustainability actions.

Woodbridge Township developed a comprehensive Sustainable Community Plan as a framework for their program that details goals and actions for areas including: Energy Conservation and Green Building, Transportation and Circulation, Water Management, Trees and Open Space, Green Purchasing, Recycling and Materials Management and Business and Residential Outreach.

In 2016, the Woodbridge Green Team placed special focus on encouraging home energy audits, implementing energy efficiency measures in municipal buildings, creating arts and sustainability programs, publicizing residential and business Clean Energy programs and creating more bike and walking paths. Woodbridge has a monthly Greenable Woodbridge Television Show that is hosted by Caroline Ehrlich. She broadcasts on public access and has web access workshops that involve ecological awareness activities.

“Sustainable Jersey serves as a benchmark for our sustainable initiatives, while providing the Township with additional resources needed to plan for our green future,” Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac said. “Woodbridge Township competed against 198 Sustainable Jersey certified municipalities and 440 participating municipalities in the Sustainable Jersey program earning sustainable points with 92 actions in 18 separate categories – scoring a record 1,035 points. And throughout, Greenable Woodbridge continued to implement many sustainable initiatives and programs that serve to better manage the ways we use energy and other natural resources at work and home.

“The Sustainable Jersey program is an important vehicle by which our Township will continue to move into the future as a sustainable and environmentally-conscious community.”

Visit Greenable Woodbridge at www.twp.woodbridge.nj.us or check out the 2016 Sustainable Jersey Woodbridge Township Certification Report to learn more.

SJ Ewing

Ewing Township, Mercer County

Ewing Township, located in Mercer County, received the 2016 Sustainability Champion award in the medium population category. With the advent of the Sustainable Jersey program, the Ewing Green Team was established in 2009 by a municipal resolution. The green team consists of 12 community members and three Ewing Township representatives, including a member of the Ewing Town Council, the business administrator and a staff representative. Like Woodbridge Township, the work of the Ewing Green Team is guided by a strategic plan. The plan details the goals, identifies the practical actions necessary to achieve them and outlines strategies for continuing to grow organizational capacity. Read the Ewing Township Sustainable Green Team Strategic Plan.

The green team has improved sustainability in Ewing in a variety of ways, including increased and improved community garden space, energy audits of municipal buildings, installation of LED lighting, maintenance and improvement of Township trails and open space and numerous waste recycling efforts. Bert H. Steinmann, the Mayor for Ewing Township said, “I am extremely proud of the diligent work that was done by our amazing green team, and the many volunteers to help achieve this honor.”

The Ewing Green Team achieved Sustainable Jersey certification at the silver-level; read the 2016 Sustainable Jersey Ewing Township Certification Report. The team also supports a full communications program, visit the Ewing Green Team website, Ewing Recycles website, electronic newsletter, Facebook and Twitter (@EwingGreenTeam).

SJ Bordentown

Bordentown City, Burlington County

Bordentown City, located in Burlington County, received the 2016 Sustainable Jersey Sustainability Champion award in the small population category. It is a community with fewer than 4,000 people that is served by a staff of approximately 35 full time employees

The Bordentown City Green Team was formally established by the City’s governing body in 2010, and achieved bronze level certification in the Sustainable Jersey Program that year. The green team, with the support of the governing body and the Bordentown City Environmental Commission, continued its sustainability efforts, and achieved silver level certification in 2013 and 2016. The green team holds an annual Green Fair in June which is the highlight of their overall program. Each year, the number of exhibitors and attendees has increased. The green team is already planning for the eighth annual Green Fair that will be held in 2017.

In 2016, the Bordentown City Green Team maintained or supported ongoing projects, including a Native Plant Demonstration Garden, the Lime Kiln Alley Park Pollinator Garden, regularly scheduled Earthtalks, rain barrel workshops, community paper shredding days, recycling education and reusable shopping bag educational campaigns. Recently completed projects include a community garden, which opened this spring, a pollinator garden at Bordentown Regional High School that was developed in coordination with the Bordentown Township Green Team, and the first Green Business Award. Bordentown City is fortunate to have a strong volunteer base with a deep pool of talent. Read the 2016 Sustainable Jersey Bordentown City Certification Report to learn more.

It’s hard to summarize in a few paragraphs the accomplishments achieved at the local level in these three communities. But, I know from working with them and other green teams across New Jersey that innovative and important work is getting done, and that is why I am feeling hopeful. Working together, we have the opportunity to create a better world.

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