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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



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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

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival

Natural Resource Damages fund new parks and preserves

Save menhaden, a humble but mighty fish

Ballot question approval would lock in environmental funds

Sandy Millspaugh: Conservation Trailblazer

Extreme hurricanes highlight concerns about climate change

'Head start' for corn snakes

Protecting the Highlands - it's the water

When you could walk from New Jersey to Morocco

A bold plan for the planet

New Jersey's energy future at a crossroads

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey

Protect New Jersey's Pine Barrens

Enjoy New Jersey's forests!

Maine-to-Florida urban trail celebrates 25 years

Rare plants and animals need help!

Ban offshore drilling and seismic testing off NJ coast!

Summertime and the digging is easy

Is the elusive bobcat here to stay?

NJ water supply plan rings alarm bells

NJ's Piedmont: Formed by volcanoes and erosion

Defend public health and safety in state budget

'Magical' early 17-year cicadas

June and open space: Perfect together

Hit the trails on June 3, National Trails Day

Socializing with nature

Preserve land - and state's in lieu of taxes program

New Jersey's 'marl' pits yield dinosaur discoveries

Vernal pools: Now you see 'em, now you don't

State targets illegal dumpers in parks and forests

Former governors and elected leaders stand up for environment

Join CSAs to support local farms, save money, eat better

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force


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