Sustainable Jersey is a nonprofit organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs. By supporting community efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental equity, Sustainable Jersey is empowering communities to build a better world for future generations. Since 2009, Sustainable Jersey has supported municipalities throughout New Jersey in taking real world steps to sustain a healthier future. The Sustainable Jersey program is administered by the Sustainability Institute and the College of New Jersey.
Sustainable Jersey certification is a prestigious designation for municipal governments in New Jersey. Municipalities that achieve the certification are considered by their peers, by state government and by the experts and civic organizations in New Jersey, to be among the leading municipalities. All actions taken by municipalities to score points toward certification must be accompanied by documentary evidence and is reviewed. While the application process can be rigorous, it is completely free and voluntary, and the certification designation is a meaningful accomplishment among municipalities throughout the state.
Grants and Resources
Sustainable Jersey identifies resources to help municipalities develop a comprehensive sustainable community program. This includes financial resources in the form of grants and incentives, and technical support in the form of trainings, access to support organizations, and guidance material. Thanks to Sustainable Jersey’s grants program, over $4.9 million has been provided to towns and schools for community-based projects to improve quality of life in New Jersey. Click here to learn more.
Sustainable Jersey began as an informal partnership that has evolved and been shaped by the contributions and perspectives of many. In 2006, The College of New Jersey was funded by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to create a “Sustainable Communities Leadership Network.” The network was tasked with supporting municipal progress toward sustainable development by identifying best practices, facilitating peer to peer learning, developing metrics to judge performance and providing direct technical support and training. Around the same time, a group of mayors at the New Jersey League of Municipalities (NJLM) was coming together to form a “green mayors” group that would work to support similar activities. Concurrently, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities were also working on sustainable community related initiatives.
The four parties agreed to come together under one banner and began to collaborate on the program that eventually became Sustainable Jersey. The NJLM established the Mayors Committee for a Green Future to be their official body that acted on behalf of the League in support of the Sustainable Jersey program. The State agencies participate in policy development for the program and integrate Sustainable Jersey into their existing grant programs as bonus points to provide an incentive for municipalities to participate.
In 2007, a Sustainable Communities Working Group was formed that consisted of approximately 150 New Jersey leaders, experts, and organizations including government agencies, non-profit organizations and businesses. Thirteen different task forces were established to identify specific aspects of each sustainability category of the certification program. After more than a year of intensive work, the Sustainable Jersey program took final form and was launched in February of 2009. In Winter 2011/2012, Sustainable Jersey evolved from a partnership into a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a Board of Trustees.
On June 25, 2013, Sustainable Jersey and the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) announced plans to create a voluntary sustainability certification program called “Sustainable Jersey for Schools,” designed specifically for New Jersey’s public school districts and public charter schools. Similar to the municipal program, Sustainable Jersey for Schools convened experts, local school officials, educators and other stakeholders to determine the content of the program. On July 22, 2013 over 100 people attended a kick-off meeting at The College of New Jersey where working groups, representing the various partners began to define the program standards and actions that would advance schools toward certification.
For more information about the program, visit http://www.SustainableJersey.com/.