Decade of empowering communities to create a better tomorrow
Looking back to the launch of Sustainable Jersey in 2009, we can track some remarkable changes. Where once sustainability wasn’t present in the local conversation, now there are hundreds of new green teams created as formal bodies of local government and charged with driving change on these issues.
Collectively, these communities have implemented and documented over 9,000 discrete actions from our list of best practices. It’s amazing how far New Jersey has come and we’re proud of the role Sustainable Jersey has played in this movement.
Sustainable Jersey turns ten this year; our anniversary theme, “Celebrating Progress, Envisioning the Future,” is a recognition of past accomplishments and a renewal of our resolve to work with communities for a sustainable New Jersey.
Sustainable Jersey is Built on Partnerships
Our year-long celebration will highlight what is important to Sustainable Jersey —our partnerships. Sustainable Jersey’s success is shared; our strength comes from the dedicated and informed participants including mayors, municipal and school district staff, environmental commissions and green team members, together with state agency and non-profit employees, academics, funders, businesses and the interested public. We are thankful for our dedicated sponsors and funders. The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was the program’s first funder and continues to be a program underwriter 10 years later.
Partnerships are at the heart of our certification and grants programs. These opportunities to work toward a more sustainable tomorrow strengthens our communities and propels us all toward our potential–not as isolated individuals but as interdependent ones. In this way, our ability to work toward a more sustainable tomorrow is amplified exponentially.
We’ll engage in many activities this year to recognize all the relationships that have gone into making Sustainable Jersey a success and to ensure our success will continue to grow for many years to come. To create a vision for the future, we’ll conduct a listening tour, which will include online engagement and in-person events.
Sustainable Jersey has the opportunity to reach even more people in New Jersey. What matters most is what we do next. We recognize that we must continually evolve in order to achieve even greater impact. We will build on the foundation and accomplishments of the past ten years.
We’ve begun profiling the individuals and organizations who have been involved with Sustainable Jersey over the past 10 years. The first stories are starting to appear in our hero profiles, and you can read them by following the links below.
- The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
- 10-Year Certified Municipalities
- Fred Profeta, Jr. & Meryl Frank, New Jersey Mayors Committee for a Green Future
- Pam Mount and Richard S. Dovey, Sustainable Jersey Board of Trustees
Making a measurable impact is important to us. It has been exciting to reflect on some of our accomplishments:
- Sustainable Jersey has created over 150 best practices and performance standards for communities to move toward sustainability.
- From the first forty municipalities that registered to become Sustainable Jersey certified in March 2009, to the 448 municipalities currently registered in 2019, Sustainable Jersey has inspired municipalities to complete thousands of sustainability actions. Eighty-nine percent of the New Jersey population now lives in a registered or certified Sustainable Jersey community.
- The Sustainable Jersey Grants Program has grown from distributing the first $100,000 of grants in June 2009, to distributing over $4.9 million in grants to municipalities, schools and school districts over ten years for community-based projects that improve quality of life in New Jersey and help participants complete program actions for certification.
- From the first four school districts to register for Sustainable Jersey for Schools in November 2014, to the 1,172 schools and school districts currently registered in 2019, Sustainable Jersey works to provide “a brighter future, one school at a time.”
- Sustainable Jersey hosts an annual New Jersey Sustainability Summit and creates an annual Sustainable State of the State Report to provide a vision and baseline for New Jersey. It’s a report card on our progress.
- Sustainable Jersey has been recognized internationally from Taiwan to South Korea; we’ve hosted delegations and travelled abroad to share the innovative Sustainable Jersey model.
- Sustainable Jersey launched nine regional hubs. Working through collective action between municipalities, county agencies and nonprofit partners, the regional hubs have made significant progress on important issues.
- Sustainable Jersey has received recognition throughout the years; awards include the Ashoka/Community Matters Changemakers Strong Communities Award (2010), U.S. EPA Environmental Quality Award (2011), Economic Development Association of New Jersey Sustainability Award (2012), New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association Leadership Award (2015), Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award (2017) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Recycling Leader Award (2018).
- Sustainable Jersey supports work at the national level. We hosted the first national convening of state sustainability programs and released the Statewide Change, One Community at a Time: A Comparative Study of Collaborative State-Local Sustainability Programs. With Sustainable Jersey’s guidance, three states have used the Sustainable Jersey model to launch programs: Maryland, Connecticut and New York.
- Sustainable Jersey developed Gold Star Standards in Energy and Waste that provide a roadmap of the specific actions and levels of performance that municipalities can, and must, achieve to reach the goals for a sustainable New Jersey. Woodbridge Township is the first to achieve the Gold Star Standard in Energy.