This past Sunday in New York City, over 300,000 people took to the streets to stand up for climate change action at “the biggest climate march in history.” As many people are feeling the post-march glow, it’s the perfect time to funnel this enthusiasm into local action — with the added nudge of some available grant funding.
Against the backdrop of the 125 countries attending the United Nations conference to negotiate climate change policy this week, progress is happening at the local level. New Jersey mayors and green teams are working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy conservation and renewable energy projects as well as investments in transportation and energy efficient infrastructure.
For many towns, cost savings are a primary motivation for municipal climate change policies. Energy efficiency initiatives can reduce operating costs along with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Here are a few examples from Sustainable Jersey certified municipalities:
- West Windsor Township and the West Windsor-Plainsboro School Board installed a cutting-edge geothermal HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system at the Thomas Grover Middle School. The geothermal system serves as a model of operational efficiency. It delivers heating and cooling, while operating with less adverse environmental impact, and requiring less operational maintenance than any comparably-sized conventional HVAC system.
- The Montclair Township Council adopted an ambitious Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan with an associated annual two percent reduction as proposed by the Montclair Climate Committee and the Global Warming Response Act of New Jersey. The plan intends to achieve a rate of four percent annual GHG emissions reductions that will put Montclair on track to reach New Jersey’s official GHG reduction target of an 80 percent reduction by the year 2050.
- Jersey City took an asset-based inventory of its municipal car fleet and established goals to purchase hybrids and reduce the total number of vehicles by 20 percent. The City Council passed a resolution to purchase five hybrid vehicles for the Department of Public Works and the Automotive Division.
- The Township of Woodbridge and the School Board have worked together for years to advance energy efficiency in the school buildings. Solar systems have been installed at 12 of the schools. The efforts by Woodbridge Township and the Woodbridge School Board have resulted in 24 out of 25 schools achieving an EPA Energy Star rating of 75 or above. This equates to a reduction of current site energy intensity by nearly 62 percent across the schools. Implementation of all of the identified energy conservation measures will further result in 2,270,000 kilowatt-hours of annual avoided electric usage and 171,000 therms of annual avoided natural gas usage. This equates to annual reductions of 1,750 tons of CO2 or 477 acres of trees planted annually.
Wanted: Innovative Sustainable Energy Projects
Do you or your municipality have an idea for a sustainable energy project? Well, good news, there is funding available to help. Sponsored by the Gardinier Environmental Fund, the Sustainable Jersey Small Grants program is now awarding grants to New Jersey municipalities in two amounts: $35,000 and $10,000, with a total of $150,000 available. Applications are due Nov. 5.
These grants will fund sustainable energy projects focused on efficiency, renewable energy, outreach and educational programs, feasibility studies, and/or related advanced energy infrastructure. Possible projects could include building efficiency upgrades, alternative vehicle fueling and charging stations, energy education projects that promote municipal energy conservation and efficiency programs, energy resiliency, solar energy installations, studies and engineering and your own innovative projects.
We challenge you and your town to see the opportunity beyond the climate crisis. Take action by implementing a sustainable energy project.
Connect with Sustainable Jersey on its Website and Facebook page. Randall Solomon is one of the principals that founded and now co-directs Sustainable Jersey.