Bordentown Township was recognized this year for having enacted multiple sustainable practices around the community.
The municipality released a Dec. 23 announcement that it received a silver certification honor from Sustainable Jersey, a nonprofit organization that supports local regions as they pursue sustainability programs.
Bordentown Township is one of only 27 New Jersey municipalities that have attained certification at the silver level this year.
It received its first bronze award in 2014. Certified towns excel in areas such as improving energy efficiency and health and wellness, reducing waste, sustaining local economies, protecting natural resources and advancing the arts.
Township Mayor Stephen Benowitz accepted the award at the Sustainable Jersey Awards Luncheon on Nov. 19 in Atlantic City on behalf of the municipality along with the Bordertown Township Environmental Commission Chairman Roger Plew, Vice Chair Kelly Lozito and Deputy Mayor Eugene M. Fuzy.
“We are honored to be recognized with this prestigious certification, and we will continue to make strides in keeping our community environmentally friendly,” Benowitz said in a statement.
To become Sustainable Jersey certified at the silver-level, officials the township was required to show it had completed a balance of the required sustainability actions meeting a minimum of 350 action points.
In addition to reaching 350 points, officials said the township also had to create a green team and select at least three out of 12 priority action options.
The township completed four of the 12 priority actions, which included: fleet inventory; resource inventory; prescription drug safety and disposal; and sustainable land use pledge.
The Sustainable Jersey program is aimed to provide tools, training and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs.
Currently, 80% (450 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities) are participating in the municipal certification program, and 339 school districts and 884 schools are participating in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification program.
Sustainable Jersey certification is a designation for municipal governments in New Jersey.
Municipalities that achieve the certification are considered by other local officials, state government, experts and civic organizations in the state to be among the leading municipalities.
Officials said all actions taken by municipalities to score points toward certification must be accompanied by documentary evidence and is reviewed. The certification is free and voluntary.
Following the announcement of this year’s recipients around the state, Randy Solomon, executive director of Sustainable Jersey, praised each municipality for their efforts to promote more sustainable communities as well as discussed the significance of the Sustainable Jersey program.
“Congratulations to all of the municipalities that have achieved certification this year,” Solomon said in a statement. “Earning certification involves more than just implementing sustainable actions. It takes extraordinary leadership and a real commitment to making our communities better. As New Jersey tops the list as one of the fastest-warming states in the nation, the next 10 years will be a critical period for making progress. Sustainable Jersey certified towns are a force for change as they create a path forward to advance sustainability.”
According to Plew, the municipality enacted various practices this year toward its goal to reach silver certification for the Sustainable Jersey program.
Plew said some of these actions included: non-mandated materials recycling; residential energy efficiency outreach; support local businesses; purchase alternative fuel vehicles; emergency communications planning; extreme temperature event plan; lead education and outreach program; animals in community education; water conservation plan; digitizing public information; brownfields inventory; community education outreach; improve public engagement in municipal government; and online municipal public service systems.
Upon receiving the award this year, vice chair of the environmental commission, Kelly Lozito, said that although the she was honored the municipality was recognized for its efforts, there is still more work to be done to become a sustainable community.
“Earning the Silver certification from Sustainable NJ has been a rewarding experience,” Lozito said. “Each of these actions take quite a bit of time, effort and coordination to plan, execute and document. I am glad our efforts to increase the environmental consciousness of our community have been recognized. There is always more to do, but it is encouraging to see we are making progress as a community.”
After receiving bronze certification last year, which required the municipality to complete specific actions to earn a minimum of 150 points, the municipality documented 32 actions in 21 categories, which totaled 300 points for the designation and made multiple strides to become more sustainable.
These efforts included educating residents of the benefits of leaving lawn clippings on the grass to reduce landfill waste and self-fertilize the property, giving lectures on local wild and plant life and incorporating the use of electric cars in the township’s public works department.
Fuzy noted that the township environmental commission’s additional work throughout this year to earn silver certification happens both inside and outside of the municipal building.
He explained that a big component of the commission’s duties to be recognized for Sustainable Jersey certification includes a lot of documenting, review and submissions. The deputy mayor said that once the commission enacts various sustainable practices, he can report back to the municipality to discuss potential actions to be taken.
“The township undergoes several Sustainable NJ actions without even recognizing it,” Fuzy said. “Our environmental commission takes the time to look over what we are doing and report to Sustainable NJ to earn points towards our recognition awards. As liaison, it is my responsibility to point out reportable actions to the environmental commission so they can figure out what category and action it can be reported as.
“The environmental commission also suggests actions the township can do or improve on, so we get credit for our green policies,” Fuzy added.
For more information on Sustainable Jersey, visit www.SustainableJersey.com or www.SustainableJerseySchools.com.
For more information on Bordentown Township, visit www.BordentownTownship.com.
For people interested in helping in these actions or to join the township Green Team, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.