Lawrence Township earns Silver Certification from Sustainable Jersey

Sustainable Jersey Silver Certification plaque in hand, the Lawrence Township Green Team presented the plaque to the Lawrence Township Council at its Dec. 3 meeting.

Lawrence Township is one of 51 municipalities to be certified at the Silver level by Sustainable Jersey for 2019.

The non-profit organization provides tools and training to encourage municipalities to become more sustainable by reducing waste and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Lawrence Township Green Team picked up the award at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities annual convention last month in Atlantic City, said Pam Mount.

Mount is a member of the Lawrence Township Green Team and Sustainable Lawrence, as well as the former chairman of Sustainable Jersey.

“It’s a lot of work, but we are a sustainable town. We are on our way to being higher than Silver level,” Mount told the Lawrence Township Council.

She handed out Sustainable Jersey pins to Mayor Christopher Bobbitt and Township Council members Jim Kownacki, Cathleen Lewis and John Ryan. Township Council member Michael Powers was absent.

Mount commended Assistant Municipal Engineer Brenda Kraemer for making sure to “cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s” during the application process for the certification.

There are 452 towns participating in Sustainable Jersey, but not all of the towns have attained Bronze or Silver certification – the two levels of certification offered by the nonprofit organization.

Bronze certification was given to 161 towns for 2019. A town needs to to earn 150 points to gain Bronze level certification. It must establish a “green team” and implement two of 12 priority actions and complete actions in six out of 18 categories.

Silver certification was awarded to 51 communities for 2019. A town must earn 350 points to gain Silver level certification. It must establish a “green team” and implement three out of 12 priorities, and complete actions in eight out of 18 categories.

Gold Star recognition is given to towns that achieve Silver level certification if they meet standards in the energy category, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience. Only one town has earned Gold Star certification.

The 18 categories include Animals in the Community, Community Partnership and Outreach, Diversity and Equity, Emergency Management and Resiliency, Energy, Food, Green Design, Land Use and Transportation, and Sustainability and Climate Planning.

Points toward Bronze or Silver certification are earned by completing actions – adopting ordinances, programs, policies and procedures and facility improvements, according to Sustainable Jersey.

Lawrence Township earned 415 points by completing more than 37 actions in 13 categories. It earned points in Community Partnership and Outreach for holding its annual Diversity Day and for the annual Ralph Copleman Neighborhood Bike Ride.

Points were earned for holding a Green Fair, sponsoring the Community Garden, adopting an updated Complete Streets resolution, policy and checklist procedures, adopting a tree hazard inventory and mapping the locations of ash trees, which are threatened by the emerald ash borer insect.

This is the second time that Lawrence Township has been certified at the Silver level for having earned at least 350 points. It was certified at the Silver level in 2016. It had previously earned Bronze level certification in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014.

Certification is valid for three years, but a town may recertify at any time.

“I can’t emphasize the amount of work” that it took to maintain the township’s Silver level certification, Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said.

Mount said that earning Silver level certification “makes the town better. It’s a lot of work. It’s all worth it.”

“We are proud of our accomplishments. It is an important part of who we are,” Mount said, as she recited Lawrence Township’s motto – “Lawrence Township, where nature smiles for 22 [square] miles.”

“It’s what makes Lawrence a wonderful place to play, live and work,” Mount said.