WEST ORANGE, NJ - On March 5, 2013, West Orange Township received the Sustainable Jersey Bronze Certification after meeting the criteria required for recognition. Since 2009, the township has worked to achieve their goal of sustainability certification, and was the only Essex County community receiving certification this year. The certification is good for three years, at which time the town will need to recertify.
The program is voluntary for municipalities but the requirements for certification are difficult and complex.To achieve bronze level certification, a community must 'submit documentation to show it has completed a balance of the program’s sustainability actions, meeting a minimum of 150 points.' From a possible list of 117 actions, a town usually selects 10-12 to achieve the necessary points. West Orange received a score of 170. Some of these actions may include areas like commitment to environmental stewardship, community gardens, supporting local businesses, conservation of energy and water, waste reduction and recycling.In addition to reaching the required points, each community has to create a Green Team and select at least two (for bronze-level) of the seven priority actions that include 'energy audits for municipal buildings, a municipal carbon footprint, a sustainable land use pledge, a natural resource inventory, a water conservation ordinance, a fleet inventory, and/or Energy Star Portfolio Manager.'
“It’s quite an accomplishment to become Sustainable Jersey certified,” said Pam Mount, Chair of the Sustainable Jersey Board of Trustees. “Our certified communities are leading the way with impressive sustainability initiatives in New Jersey while providing a model for towns across the United States.”
Bronze certification can now pave the way for township grant opportunities. Assemblyman John McKeon, a long time advocate for green initiatives and former West Orange mayor, encouraged the town to work towards certification, noting that West Orange was already way ahead of other towns with their green efforts, but needed to create enforceable policies and ordinances.
On Tuesday, April 23, during the Conference portion of the Town Council agenda at 6:30 pm, the Bronze Certification will be announced and the members of the West Orange Energy Commission will be recognized for their efforts in making the certification happen. In addition to the commission, the township administration, directors, Health Department, Police Department, and more, have been cooperative in making the certification a reality.
The town council will also vote to support PSE&G's Energy Strong Program during the Public Meeting beginning at 7:00 pm.
Councilwoman Sue McCartney, council liasion on the West Orange Energy Commission, is pleased that the commission - all volunteers - will be acknowledged for their efforts at the Town Council meeting. "This is also Volunteer Week," she noted, "making this the perfect time to recognize them for all their hard work." The WOEC has also provided several important educational sessions for the residents of West Orange and will continue to do so.
"The most important thing about the Bronze Certification," continued McCartney, is that it ultimately reflects savings in energy and money for the residents of West Orange."