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Sustainable Jersey is 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. Launched in 2009, Sustainable Jersey is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward communities as they pursue sustainability programs. The Sustainable Jersey program is administered by the Sustainability Institute.

Certification

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. The certification is a rigorous and meaningful designation. All actions taken by municipalities to score points toward certification must be accompanied by documentary evidence and is reviewed. The certification is free and completely voluntary.

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.

Program History

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.

For more information about the Sustainable Jersey Program please visit http://www.sustainablejersey.com/

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