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New Jersey towns go green to save green
11/3/2011 Volume XLIV, No. 43

We’re all living on tighter budgets these days – at both the public and personal levels – so it’s good news that state, county and local governments can invest in energy efficiency and, in the process, save taxpayer dollars.

The benefits of energy efficiency often get overshadowed by talk about the rush to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and the need to extract more oil and natural gas to satisfy our energy appetites. But energy conservation is by far the best way to cut energy use, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and save money. 

Up-front costs have traditionally been the biggest roadblock to energy efficiency projects, but a combination of incentives and grants have made these investments a “no brainer” for Garden State municipalities.

For starters, the state Board of Public Utilities offers towns and schools a free, comprehensive energy audit to evaluate everything from equipment efficiency (from boilers to computers) to usage patterns (when and how much energy is used).  The energy audit then recommends steps to improve efficiency, ranging from modernizing old, inefficient heating and lighting equipment to more exotic options like “daylight harvesting systems” that collect sunlight and channel it to workspaces inside buildings as a substitute for electric lights.

Next, there’s the Board of Public Utilities’ Direct Install initiative, which may pay for up to $50,000 in energy efficiency equipment upgrades for towns and schools! Who could pass it up? Of 512 eligible local governments, 85 percent are taking advantage.

Finally, many municipalities have been awarded federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants of up to $20,000, with no match required. These federal grants are funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the program has closed for 2011, but renewed funding is a possibility.  

One of the best things about energy efficiency – even with the up-front costs – is that the savings are immediate.  Industry experts estimate the average town can save 20 percent on its energy costs through efficiency alone.

Millburn Township in Essex County, for example, invested just $1,027 in energy efficiency projects that would have otherwise cost over $50,000.  With its reduced energy costs, Millburn estimates it will take only two weeks to recoup the $1,027.  Going forward, the town expects to save $63,000 every year!

Has your town jumped on the energy efficiency bandwagon? Don’t be shy – ask your mayor or town administrator if your town has had an energy audit.

If your town is one of the 15 percent that hasn’t taken advantage of energy efficiency programs, encourage your mayor to log on to the N.J. Clean Energy Program website for details on dozens of energy efficiency programs at .  You can also go toCaucus: New Jersey online and view the “Living Green: Clean Energy for Municipalities” episode, which explains the program’s process and benefits,  at

And if you’d like more information about conserving New Jersey’s precious land and natural resources, please visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s website at or contact me at



Still the Garden State!

Protect New Jersey's wildlife homes

Preserved lands protect clean air and water

To tree or not to tree?

Hard cider in the Garden State

Turkey Time

American shad return to New Jersey river after 173 years

Act now to avoid worst climate impacts

NJ Natural Lands Trust celebrates 50 years

Must love bats!

Move and improve your health!

Renewable energy: Save money and our land, water, air and health

Speak up for endangered species!

Save the bugs!

Check out New Jersey's fall bird migration

A little bit of respect...for native plants!

Explore New Jersey's wildflower meadows

All aboard floating classrooms

Catch the Perseids meteor shower!

Check out the 'fun' in fungi

Too hot to think? Studies shows heat affects your brain

Love NJ's outdoors? Take action now!

New Jersey's official reptile, the bog turtle

Sea level rise and New Jersey: Not perfect together

These New Jersey plants have an appetite for insects

Explore the Pine Barrens through paddles, hikes and tours

Like to jog? 'Plog' instead and keep NJ clean

Love Jersey fruit? Thank our native pollinators!

Good news for globally rare swamp pink lilies

Say cheese! Remote cameras aid wildlife research

Begone, single-use plastic bags!

3,000 birds and counting for 'bluebird grandfather'

The Pine Barrens gets some help from its friends

A clean energy future for New Jersey

Cowtown and rare grassland birds, perfect together

Fight light pollution during International Dark Sky Week

New film tells story of how Petty's Island was saved

Ten years of nipping invasive species in the bud

Welcome spring in a county park

Go for a walk and feel better!

Grab a friend and go outside

Recycle your way to zero waste!

Last call for winter wildlife watching on Jersey coast

Without its 'understory' layer, the forest will collapse

From whale songs to poetry, a remarkable journey

A cleaner, greener New Jersey

Let's keep New Jersey the Garden State, not the Pipeline State

New Jersey's winter hikes

'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment


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