The list keeps growing.
One-hundred-thirteen towns are certified and 384 are registered to be part of Sustainable Jersey, a program for communities that want to go green.
“I think there was a pent-up demand for a program like Sustainable Jersey,” said Randall Solomon, co-director of the nonprofit organization launched in 2009 that evolved from the New Jersey League of Municipalities’ Mayors Committee for a Green Future.
“It’s something they want to do,” Solomon said. “We’re helping them solve problems they already have.”
Not only does the organization offer municipalities ways to make its buildings and fleets more energy-efficient and offer other sustainability initiatives, but it also helps pay for the improvements.
“One thing we recognized is that municipalities’ resources are strained, so we have a grant program to assist them in becoming more sustainable,” Solomon said. “This year, we hope to give out $600,000 in grants.”
So far, nearly 22 municipalities in Burlington County have registered for the program, including Delran, the latest in the county to do so.
Mayor Ken Paris said the decision last month to join the ranks of participants was an easy one, given the goal of the program and the chance for some additional funding.
“I’m always supportive of being environmentally friendly,” Paris said.
And it doesn’t hurt that the program could result in financial assistance.
“Anything we can do to bring in some grant money, I’m in favor of it,” Paris said.
William Curzie, Delran’s former environmental advisory agency coordinator, brought the idea to the Township Council recently and urged officials to pursue certification in the program.
“In a nutshell, it will save money, and it will sustain the quality of life for the community over a long term,” Curzie said. “The green team is not an ad hoc committee, but it is total involvement of the community in the long term. The sustainable idea involves saving money, improving air quality, cleaning up neighborhoods, (and) increasing the property values.”
He said the township already qualifies for points needed to be certified in the program.
To be certified, the municipality must first assemble a green team, which is required under the program, and submit documentation on its sustainability initiatives already in place.
In addition to tools and guidance for creating a sustainable community, participating towns get priority access and notification of incentives and grants, and are eligible for the Sustainable Jersey Small Grant Program.
“All in all, we were already moving in this direction,” council President Gary Catrambone said. “This will be a way to coordinate our efforts, whether it be energy conservation, the greening of Delran, creation of a community garden and walking trails.”
Curzie said he would encourage the planting of one or two trees for each one knocked down during Superstorm Sandy.
“This is an impressive network, and I very much look forward to working with it and for the success of not only our township, but also our county and surrounding areas,” Curzie said.
For more information about becoming a member of Delran’s green team, contact Township Administrator Jeffrey Hatcher at 856-461-7734 or firstname.lastname@example.org.