407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
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Local Leaders Embrace Environmentalism

Green is Good

Meryl Frank, Mayor, Highland Park
By Meryl Frank
Mayor, Highland Park
Chair, Mayors' Committee
on a Green Future

See Caption Below
On July 18, Several Mayors, council members and state officials met in Highland Park to outline a plan to "go green," by implementing environmentally responsible policies and procedures statewide. (L to R) Maplewood Mayor Fred R. Profeta, Highland Park Mayor and Chairwoman Meryl Frank, Lebanon Mayor Lisa F. Urchin and Edison Mayor Jun Choi learn about the solar panels on the roof of the Highland Park Municipal Building.

Over the course of the last year the subject of green communities has gone from the back pages of the local sections of our community newspapers to the front pages of the most renowned papers, and the covers of national magazines. Whether the reason for the new awareness of the need to “go green” is climate change caused by global warming, dependence on foreign oil, national security, or soaring home heating bills, it is now generally understood that green is good.

Thinking green is no longer a luxury. It has become a necessity, and not only because of the price of oil or because it has become politically popular to care about clean air and water and conserving natural resources. Green decisions make good public policy, plain and simple.

Since its inception in 2003, Highland Park 2020: A Sustainable Community, was an innovative concept.  Its goal, to build a community that is sustainable economically, environmentally and socially; a community which would thrive well into the new century, was only a vision.  Today the program, which was praised for its “high goals” and as “a quantum leap,” is well underway.

Highland Park, as New Jersey’s first green community, now boasts dozens of new initiatives which will preserve our natural resources, and save thousands of dollars.

From the start, this vision was not “business as usual.” It was about building a model of government which benefits our residents now and far into the future. It was our intention that these green community initiatives be easy to replicate and affordable to implement across the communities which make up this state, and eventually maybe even the nation.


THIS NEW PROGRAM WOULD HAVE TO PROVE
THAT IT MADE SENSE ECONOMICALLY,
AS WELL AS ENVIRONMENTALLY.


Let’s face it, mayors care most about saving money, and this new program would have to prove that it made sense economically, as well as environmentally. There were tangible economic savings immediately, with my own municipality saving approximately $14,000 per year on energy costs.
But the real benefits of a green community will come further down the road. For municipal officials this means an enormous change in mindset and practice. It requires a change in our well-worn methods of operation, which are grounded in what works today, what will get us from one budget year to another and frankly, one election to another.

Building a green community requires a different way of thinking about the work of a mayor. The role goes beyond policymaker and manager of a governing body—to the stewardship of the community. He or she must make decisions today that will help create financially and environmentally healthy communities now and for the future.

A green future will also require leaders who are willing to take a chance on something new, and in some cases untested. With the economy, environment and public opinion clearly backing green initiatives, mayors across the state will soon need to start considering green savings, green land use initiatives. These initiatives will include the use of hybrid cars, environmentally preferable purchasing, geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, rain gardens which clean the water runoff, and tree plantings that measurably improve the local climate. With proper planning and thought, the risks are minimal and the benefits great.

In just three years Highland Park has initiated dozens of green initiatives. Interested community members were recruited to give direction and to build confidence in the green community. We began by examining our own municipal practices and purchasing, eventually creating our green savers program and environmentally preferrable purchasing co-op, conducting an energy audit of our municipal buildings, and retrofitting our buildings with energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems. We’ve added solar panels to the roof of our Borough Hall and reviewed our public works practices (garbage collection, recycling and snow removal). The sustainable community plan has also caused us to take a fresh look at our land use, master plan and redevelopment plan.

With a tremendously successful first phase in place we moved next to engaging houses of worship, businesses and schools with an important educational component. We quickly realized that if we were to have a significant impact, then we must look at all of the operations of a municipal government through green colored glasses...streetscape design, planting and grounds maintenance, urban gardening, walking programs, and hybrid police and inspections vehicles, to name a few.

In the absence of federal direction when it comes to green initiatives, no real comprehensive effort to support green initiatives or to use alternative methods, we had to invent it ourselves. Therefore, to spread the word and share our successes we have created the Mayors’ Committee on a Green Future.

Organized in the spring of 2006, under the auspices of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, mayors have come together to invent Green Communities ourselves—across municipalities, party and county lines, to create something new and innovative.

We understand that building green communities will require homegrown solutions, from individual towns and cities across the state to craft policies, build incentives and create initiatives which will move us forward. Real innovation comes from local leaders who live day to day in the communities that they represent. Change will come in response to the efforts of green trailblazers like Mayor Ken Pringle of Belmar, Mayor Doug Palmer of Trenton and Mayor Fred Profeta of Maplewood, who are investing in the future of their communities.

The Mayor’s Committee for a Green Future will be working together with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Board of Public Utilities and the Office of Clean Energy, with the help of the Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Transportation, to establish best practices, model programs, first steps and resident’s guides.

The mayor’s committee will also lobby for, identify and support legislative initiatives, train municipal officials and to be a clearing house for innovative ideas. Already, the League and the Committee for a Green Future are working with the Rutgers Green Building Center on a section to be added to the curriculum for zoning and planning board certification and training for municipal employees on green building standards.

The work of the Mayor’s Committee for a Green Future will save tax dollars, assure clean air and water, improve the working and living environments for our residents and employees.

We understand our place in the local, the state, and even the world economy and we see that the decisions that we make today will enable our communities to thrive far into this new century. The Mayors’ Committee for a Green Future, together with leaders throughout the state, will work to leave our communities cleaner, healthier and more able to compete in the future...and we just might help save our planet too.

Going Green in Highland Park

Winner of the 2003 Innovation in Governance Award from the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the 2005 Environmental Leadership Award from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Highland Park is proud of its green initiatives, which include:

Green Municipal Buildings
Public Buildings Retrofit for Energy Efficiency
Green Redevelopment Plan (NJ’s First)
Eugene Young Environmental Centers*
Solar, Pedestrian Activated Cross Walk Signals*
Green Master Plan*
Green Land Use Ordinance Changes
Green Streetscape, Recycled Materials/Rain Gardens*
Geothermal Heating and Cooling System for School*
Solar Lamps in School*
Green Standards for Major Construction Projects
High Efficiency Lighting and LED Traffic Signals
Hybrid Police and Inspections Vehicles
Commuter Shuttle Bus (to arrive ’07)*
Walking and Biking Promotions
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Co-op
Expanding Green Utility Incentives*

Resident’s Go Green Booklet, (published Fall ’06)*
Green Houses of Worship
“Cool Cities” Tree Planting
Dedicating Additional Active/Passive Green Space
Town-Wide Yard Sale
Urban Agriculture Projects
Green Community Website
Endorsed RGGI
Green Department of Public Works
Green Cleaning Supplies/Paint
Alternative Fuel Vehicle
Green Snow Removal (use of calcium chloride)
Aggressive Recycling Program
No Pesticides Policy
Native Tree Planting
Low Maintenance Ground Cover

 * in progress or under construction 

 

Article published in October 2006, New Jersey Municipalities

 

 

 

NJLM - Green is Good

407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
Change Font Size
Larger
| Smaller

 

Local Leaders Embrace Environmentalism

Green is Good

Meryl Frank, Mayor, Highland Park
By Meryl Frank
Mayor, Highland Park
Chair, Mayors' Committee
on a Green Future

See Caption Below
On July 18, Several Mayors, council members and state officials met in Highland Park to outline a plan to "go green," by implementing environmentally responsible policies and procedures statewide. (L to R) Maplewood Mayor Fred R. Profeta, Highland Park Mayor and Chairwoman Meryl Frank, Lebanon Mayor Lisa F. Urchin and Edison Mayor Jun Choi learn about the solar panels on the roof of the Highland Park Municipal Building.

Over the course of the last year the subject of green communities has gone from the back pages of the local sections of our community newspapers to the front pages of the most renowned papers, and the covers of national magazines. Whether the reason for the new awareness of the need to “go green” is climate change caused by global warming, dependence on foreign oil, national security, or soaring home heating bills, it is now generally understood that green is good.

Thinking green is no longer a luxury. It has become a necessity, and not only because of the price of oil or because it has become politically popular to care about clean air and water and conserving natural resources. Green decisions make good public policy, plain and simple.

Since its inception in 2003, Highland Park 2020: A Sustainable Community, was an innovative concept.  Its goal, to build a community that is sustainable economically, environmentally and socially; a community which would thrive well into the new century, was only a vision.  Today the program, which was praised for its “high goals” and as “a quantum leap,” is well underway.

Highland Park, as New Jersey’s first green community, now boasts dozens of new initiatives which will preserve our natural resources, and save thousands of dollars.

From the start, this vision was not “business as usual.” It was about building a model of government which benefits our residents now and far into the future. It was our intention that these green community initiatives be easy to replicate and affordable to implement across the communities which make up this state, and eventually maybe even the nation.


THIS NEW PROGRAM WOULD HAVE TO PROVE
THAT IT MADE SENSE ECONOMICALLY,
AS WELL AS ENVIRONMENTALLY.


Let’s face it, mayors care most about saving money, and this new program would have to prove that it made sense economically, as well as environmentally. There were tangible economic savings immediately, with my own municipality saving approximately $14,000 per year on energy costs.
But the real benefits of a green community will come further down the road. For municipal officials this means an enormous change in mindset and practice. It requires a change in our well-worn methods of operation, which are grounded in what works today, what will get us from one budget year to another and frankly, one election to another.

Building a green community requires a different way of thinking about the work of a mayor. The role goes beyond policymaker and manager of a governing body—to the stewardship of the community. He or she must make decisions today that will help create financially and environmentally healthy communities now and for the future.

A green future will also require leaders who are willing to take a chance on something new, and in some cases untested. With the economy, environment and public opinion clearly backing green initiatives, mayors across the state will soon need to start considering green savings, green land use initiatives. These initiatives will include the use of hybrid cars, environmentally preferable purchasing, geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, rain gardens which clean the water runoff, and tree plantings that measurably improve the local climate. With proper planning and thought, the risks are minimal and the benefits great.

In just three years Highland Park has initiated dozens of green initiatives. Interested community members were recruited to give direction and to build confidence in the green community. We began by examining our own municipal practices and purchasing, eventually creating our green savers program and environmentally preferrable purchasing co-op, conducting an energy audit of our municipal buildings, and retrofitting our buildings with energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems. We’ve added solar panels to the roof of our Borough Hall and reviewed our public works practices (garbage collection, recycling and snow removal). The sustainable community plan has also caused us to take a fresh look at our land use, master plan and redevelopment plan.

With a tremendously successful first phase in place we moved next to engaging houses of worship, businesses and schools with an important educational component. We quickly realized that if we were to have a significant impact, then we must look at all of the operations of a municipal government through green colored glasses...streetscape design, planting and grounds maintenance, urban gardening, walking programs, and hybrid police and inspections vehicles, to name a few.

In the absence of federal direction when it comes to green initiatives, no real comprehensive effort to support green initiatives or to use alternative methods, we had to invent it ourselves. Therefore, to spread the word and share our successes we have created the Mayors’ Committee on a Green Future.

Organized in the spring of 2006, under the auspices of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, mayors have come together to invent Green Communities ourselves—across municipalities, party and county lines, to create something new and innovative.

We understand that building green communities will require homegrown solutions, from individual towns and cities across the state to craft policies, build incentives and create initiatives which will move us forward. Real innovation comes from local leaders who live day to day in the communities that they represent. Change will come in response to the efforts of green trailblazers like Mayor Ken Pringle of Belmar, Mayor Doug Palmer of Trenton and Mayor Fred Profeta of Maplewood, who are investing in the future of their communities.

The Mayor’s Committee for a Green Future will be working together with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Board of Public Utilities and the Office of Clean Energy, with the help of the Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Transportation, to establish best practices, model programs, first steps and resident’s guides.

The mayor’s committee will also lobby for, identify and support legislative initiatives, train municipal officials and to be a clearing house for innovative ideas. Already, the League and the Committee for a Green Future are working with the Rutgers Green Building Center on a section to be added to the curriculum for zoning and planning board certification and training for municipal employees on green building standards.

The work of the Mayor’s Committee for a Green Future will save tax dollars, assure clean air and water, improve the working and living environments for our residents and employees.

We understand our place in the local, the state, and even the world economy and we see that the decisions that we make today will enable our communities to thrive far into this new century. The Mayors’ Committee for a Green Future, together with leaders throughout the state, will work to leave our communities cleaner, healthier and more able to compete in the future...and we just might help save our planet too.

Going Green in Highland Park

Winner of the 2003 Innovation in Governance Award from the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the 2005 Environmental Leadership Award from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Highland Park is proud of its green initiatives, which include:

Green Municipal Buildings
Public Buildings Retrofit for Energy Efficiency
Green Redevelopment Plan (NJ’s First)
Eugene Young Environmental Centers*
Solar, Pedestrian Activated Cross Walk Signals*
Green Master Plan*
Green Land Use Ordinance Changes
Green Streetscape, Recycled Materials/Rain Gardens*
Geothermal Heating and Cooling System for School*
Solar Lamps in School*
Green Standards for Major Construction Projects
High Efficiency Lighting and LED Traffic Signals
Hybrid Police and Inspections Vehicles
Commuter Shuttle Bus (to arrive ’07)*
Walking and Biking Promotions
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Co-op
Expanding Green Utility Incentives*

Resident’s Go Green Booklet, (published Fall ’06)*
Green Houses of Worship
“Cool Cities” Tree Planting
Dedicating Additional Active/Passive Green Space
Town-Wide Yard Sale
Urban Agriculture Projects
Green Community Website
Endorsed RGGI
Green Department of Public Works
Green Cleaning Supplies/Paint
Alternative Fuel Vehicle
Green Snow Removal (use of calcium chloride)
Aggressive Recycling Program
No Pesticides Policy
Native Tree Planting
Low Maintenance Ground Cover

 * in progress or under construction 

 

Article published in October 2006, New Jersey Municipalities

 

 

 

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