Sustainable Jersey®, a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term, awarded Bronze Certification to the Borough of New Providence in January 2014. Municipalities that achieve the certification are considered leaders in tackling issues of sustainability. All actions taken by municipalities to score points toward certification must be accompanied by documentary evidence and are reviewed by a panel of experts. The certification is free and completely voluntary but has very rigorous requirements.
Municipalities that are awarded certification gain priority access to many grant programs and are eligible to apply for the Sustainable Jersey Small Grants Program. It is important to note that New Jersey is the first state in the nation to have a comprehensive sustainability program for communities that link certification with strong state and private financial incentives and a fully resourced program of technical support and training.
To achieve Bronze Certification, the New Providence Sustainability Committee worked closely with borough officials to accomplish the following:
- Established a Recycling Depot at the Public Works Yard (1 Park Place), which is open year round (Monday to Friday, 7 AM. – 2 PM). In addition to accepting motor oil, tires and computer equipment, it accepts any type of appliance, hard plastic or metal. It also accepts bulky rigid plastics, such as plastic tables, benches, chairs, riding toys, doll houses, sand boxes, shelving, 5 gallon pails, and car seats. This means that borough residents do not need to wait until bulk pickup during the summer to clear out their garage and basement.
- Reduced municipal energy consumption by hiring an engineering firm to perform a detailed energy audit of its municipal facilities. The borough implemented all of the recommendations for increasing energy efficiency.
- Established a green purchasing policy and had borough employees adopt behavioral policies that reduce energy waste.
- Worked with the Borough and Business Community to continue supporting local businesses and the flourishing New Providence Farmers Market.
The Sustainability Committee also celebrated the fact that the high school and one of the elementary schools installed solar panels on their roofs. It is estimated that these solar systems will offset about 55 percent of the electricity consumption by the high school/middle school, and about 25 percent of the electricity usage by the elementary school. To document the benefit of all of these energy saving strategies, the Borough has estimated its total CO2 production for the year 2009, both for the municipal facilities and the entire Borough. It will make the same calculations in 2019 to determine whether the energy saving strategies reduced its annual carbon footprint.
“We would like to thank all of the committee volunteers for their efforts, dedication, and commitment to achieving this goal,” said Borough Administrator Doug Marvin. “Their hard work will help New Providence become a more livable, environmentally friendly, and prosperous community.”
The Sustainability Committee is hoping to expand its activities, but needs new members to do so. Please join the committee and help them maintain the bronze certification and make New Providence even more sustainable. If you are interested in joining us, contact Doug Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Barbara Friedman at email@example.com.