In 1988, a popular song urged everyone to:
“Stand in the place where you live
Now face north
Wonder why you haven’t before
Now stand in the place where you work
Now face west
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t before...”
Exactly 20 years later, these words have taken on a renewed sense of urgency. New findings about global warming and climate change fill our newspapers, blogs and broadcast news daily. The issue is even becoming the topic of documentaries and major motion pictures.
In anticipation of Earth Day on April 22nd, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program are calling on every municipality, local government and resident to “stand” where they live and work and think about the environment.
Stand inside your borough hall or municipal complex. Stand inside your schools, police stations, libraries, senior centers and public works garages. Stand, take a good look around, and really think about how these buildings consume energy. Try to identify areas that need improvement. Next, write down ideas on how to achieve these improvements. Then act on them.
Everyone should do the same for their homes and offices. Then step outdoors and really think about your community and how it might be able to use less energy and cleaner energy.
If each New Jersey resident comes up with just one idea, that’s approximately 8.4 million ideas that could potentially be implemented to not only help us achieve the Governor’s goal of a 20 percent reduction in energy use by 2020, but to exceed it. And all you have to do is “stand.”
And the BPU can help. New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP), which operates through the BPU, has proactively led the effort over the last six years to launch several initiatives, including a solar energy program that recently underwent a transformation to a market-based model; making it one of the most innovative and ambitious solar programs in the nation. We are leading the effort to meet the 20 percent by 2020 goal through the various programs we offer related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and green building/technology. These programs can help municipalities, businesses and residents take a stand on the environment.
One such initiative is the Whole House/ Whole Community campaign, which engages residents and businesses in adopting a more comprehensive approach to energy
savings and the use of renewable energy. The idea behind Whole House/Whole Community is to help communities engage both residents and businesses in the need to be energy smart and to take advantage of the state’s clean energy programs and financial incentives. The NJCEP offers several programs under the umbrella of the Whole House/Whole Community campaign, including:
• Municipal Energy Audit Program
• New Jersey SmartStart Buildings
• CleanPower Community Partners
• Home Performance with Energy Star®
• Municipal Energy Audit Program
Set to roll out this spring, the Municipal Energy Audit Program will offer qualifying municipalities and other government agencies incentives to subsidize the cost of performing an energy audit of their facilities—up to 100 percent.
The Township of Montclair, which won the 2005 Clean Energy Municipality of the Year Award, recently switched its entire municipal truck fleet to incorporate fuel blended with 20 percent biodiesel, a clean-burning, non-petroleum, renewable resource made from soy oil made in the USA; dramatically reducing smog-causing soot, lowering their carbon emissions and cutting their use of foreign fuels.
Your town or local government representatives will be able to choose between six energy audit firms pre-qualified by the state Department of Treasury. The Treasury certification assures you that your energy audit will be comprehensive and systematic so that taxpayers do not miss out on a single opportunity to save money and energy. If you participate in the program, you can negotiate the scope of the audit and which buildings to cover. The NJCEP can help to make sure you identify the best savings opportunities.
The program is expected to subsidize 75 percent of the cost for all approved audits. After that, if your local government goes on to actually implement recommendations from the energy audit and the work exceeds 25 percent of the cost of the audit, then you can qualify for an additional rebate of that 25 percent. In effect, your energy audit would be free. Upgrades in lighting, installation of timers and motion sensing devices and use of more energy-efficient copiers or HVAC systems can translate into lower energy use and lower or more stable energy costs.
Municipal Energy Audits must be conducted on facilities located within the service territory of at least one of New Jersey’s public utilities. The program is designed for municipal and other local government buildings such as offices, fire and police stations, sanitation and transportation department facilities and community centers.
New Jersey SmartStart Buildings Local governments that participate in the Municipal Energy Audit program can also apply for grants and incentives through the SmartStart, program. Whether you are starting a commercial or industrial project from the ground up, renovating existing space, or upgrading equipment, this program offers unique opportunities to upgrade the quality of the project. New Jersey SmartStart Buildings can provide a range of technical support and financial incentives on high efficiency heating, cooling and lighting equipment to yield substantial savings both now and in the future.
We offer a wide array of improvement options for commercial, industrial, institutional, government and agricultural projects throughout the state. Alternatives are designed to enhance quality while building in energy efficiency. Call 1-866 NJSmart for more information on clean energy savings.
CleanPower Community Partners This program is a voluntary initiative that invites local communities and community-based organizations to join a coalition that participates in statewide clean energy campaigns to educate and help enroll residents, businesses and municipalities in New Jersey’s Clean Energy programs. Community Partners receive support in their efforts to educate their constituents about the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy and simple climate change solutions.
Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Home Performance with ENERGY STAR can help New Jersey homeowners save up to 30 percent on energy use and costs, while improving the comfort and safety of their home. The Web site, www.njcleanenergy.com, provides a list of accredited contractors qualified to deliver advanced energy efficiency improvements to your home. They can also offer solutions to common household problems such as drafts, high utility bills, rooms that are too hot or cold and poor indoor air quality.
These programs are designed to work in step with New Jersey’s forthcoming Energy Master Plan (EMP) that will set forth an overall vision for energy planning in New Jersey through 2020. The BPU has been a key player in this energy planning, providing expertise and staff support to Governor Jon S. Corzine.
The EMP vision incorporates the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions into a larger effort to ensure that New Jersey has a reliable and affordable supply of energy consistent with our environmental needs. Part of that vision involves setting specific energy efficiency goals.
The “20 percent by 2020” goal is not only ambitious, it is achievable. And the deadline is coming fast. But we can’t do it alone. So this month, “Think about the place where you live—wonder why you haven’t…”
Learn more about it:
• The Municipal/Local Government Audit program, SmartStart and more at www.njcleanenergy.com
• The New Jersey BPU at www.nj.gov/bpu
• The Energy Master Plan at www.nj.gov/emp
• New Jersey’s efforts to combat global warming at www.nj.gov/globalwarming