NEWARK, NJ — Brick City is a little bit greener thanks to the efforts of Newark Public Schools, which can now boast official Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification for 61 of its K-12 schools, the district announced Tuesday. 

Sustainable Jersey for Schools, a voluntary program for schools across New Jersey, awarded NPS a bronze level award for its sustainability actions. The district worked with Go Green consultant Jill Buck to make school facilities more energy efficient and a clean air program, which works with school buses to reduce pollution.  

“Since 2014, this initiative has been six years in the making, and we’re so glad that we’re able to accomplish such a tremendous feat,” Superintendent Roger León said. “We love doing programs involving the whole NPS community. This isn’t just words or another program, but an opportunity for the schools of Newark to benefit from Sustainable Jersey, which in turn will benefit the city of Newark.”

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The certification program includes more than 350 participating New Jersey school districts and provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and benefit schools who pursue sustainability. Schools can choose from a list of sustainable actions ranging from food and nutrition to green purchasing and waste management. The program judges districts’ portfolios based on a point system, with the minimum for certification set at 150 points. 

NPS tallied 150 points, also receiving credit for its foodservice programs, a district spokesperson said. Part of the application process included an energy audit at each school through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP), through which NPS enacted a $17 million Energy Savings Improvement Program. 

The project encompasses 63 Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) over 1.4 million square feet, according to Rodney Williams, Director of Sustainability for NPS. 

“Actions included lighting retrofits, boiler replacement, roof replacement, solar installation, upgrading systems and components to improve the safety of energy use, and performance monitoring,” Williams said. “From 2017-19, the district saved $1.9 million, 4.7 million kWh, and 460,000 therms of gas.”

Randall Solomon, executive director of Sustainable Jersey, said he was pleased to add Newark to the cohort of 321 certified schools across the state. 

“I commend the teachers, administrators, staff, parents and students for their commitment and vision for the future,” he said. “Becoming certified with Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a significant achievement and these schools are leading the way to a more sustainable New Jersey, right when we need it the most.”