Sustainable Jersey Masthead

Summer 2021
Municipalities Certified: 219, Participating: 460 ♦ Schools Certified: 335, Participating: 1025 ♦ Districts Participating: 373


Sustainability in Action: Success Stories

Food, Flowers and Inspiration Grow at Verona Community Garden (Essex County)

Food, Flowers and Inspiration Grow at Verona Community Garden (Essex County)

A new community garden is thriving behind H.B. Whitehorne Middle School located next door to the Verona Town Hall. Thirty-five raised garden beds are at peak vegetable, herb and flower production--all grown by residents, local Verona restaurants and school students. The Verona Community Garden opened in April 2021. "Our community garden has been a long time in the making and we have finally made it a reality," said Steven Neale, director of administration and economic development at Township of Verona and chair of Sustainable Verona. "Our community is only as strong as our involvement in it and we are lucky to have talented and dedicated volunteers." This project is a true community collaboration with participants from Verona Township, H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, the Board of Education, Township Council, Sustainable Verona, Environmental Commission, Chamber of Commerce, Junior Women's Club, Verona Education Association and many more supporters. To support the project, Verona Township received a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey grant funded by the PSEG Foundation and H.B. Whitehorne Middle School received a $2,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant funded by the New Jersey Education Association. Chess tables were added to the garden thanks to the Landsberger Foundation and pavers were provided by Green Valley Landscape Design. The Verona Department of Public Works crew got the site ready with the addition of a water line, mulch, a fence and a shed; they built the raised cedar beds and filled them with soil for the gardeners. With over 160 requests for the garden beds, the organizers are already talking about creating another garden at a different site and expanding the current site. Verona Township is working on Sustainable Jersey recertification and is submitting this project for points with the action: Community Gardens.

Green Teams Partner with Student Interns for Increased Impact

Green Teams Partner with Student Interns for Increased Impact

Need a boost to move your local sustainability projects forward? Green teams have created a 'win, win' solution with the implementation of internship programs for students. In the Borough of Madison (Morris County) and the Borough of Glen Rock (Bergen County), green team leaders recruited, organized and supervised internship programs in their communities with great results. "COVID-19 changed our trajectory, while also upending opportunities and plans for many young people," explained Kathleen Caccavale, the chair of Sustainable Madison Committee. "In trying to make the best of a difficult situation, Madison green team, shade tree and environmental commission members worked together to organize, advertise and implement a virtual internship program. The effect of this program was to extend the volunteer base of environmental groups, and create systems of mentorship for many people new to volunteer work." Members of the Glen Rock Environmental Commission (GREC) organized and supervised an intern program, which recently included nearly 50 students ranging in age from 12 to 22. Sylvia Rabacchi, GREC co-chair said, "The intern program brings together students interested in environmental sustainability to discuss issues, identify ways to raise awareness and to advocate for sustainable action. It incorporates the diverse skills and interests of the students as they design and enact their own concrete projects. The experience builds confidence in the students and our community benefits from their contributions." Glen Rock and Madison are Sustainable Jersey silver-certified municipalities; both boroughs received certification points for their internship programs under the action: Innovative Community Project. The Madison internship projects were presented as part of the 2021 Sustainability Summit Champions Session (advance to slide 56 or view a recording of the presentation starting at 27:22). Learn more about the Glen Rock internship projects: Fall Summary PowerPoint. Photo: Rebecca Greene.

Hub Provides Leadership: Air Quality in South Jersey

Hub Provides Leadership: Air Quality in South Jersey

This Spring, a report from the American Lung Association gave eight New Jersey counties "F" grades for air quality and ozone pollution, including both Camden and Gloucester counties. Enter Tri-County Sustainability (TCS), the regional Sustainable Jersey hub for the 101 towns, 1.2 million New Jersey residents and 10 legislative districts that make up the Philadelphia suburbs. In July 2021, TCS organized an all-star panel of subject experts to discuss the situation including: Sharon Davis, Chief, Bureau of Evaluation and Planning at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Air Quality; Kevin M. Stewart, Director, Environmental Health Advocacy and Public Policy at the American Lung Association; and Doug O'Malley, State Director for Environment New Jersey. "We wanted to know not just the 'what' and the 'why', but also the 'what now,'" explained TCS Executive Director Sean Mohen. "What role can we as green teams, environmental commissioners, elected officials, activists and residents play in continuing to improve air quality in South Jersey?" The timing of the conversation dovetails perfectly with the launch of Sustainable Jersey’s new Gold Star Standard in Health because it includes actions related to air quality. The TCS informative discussions and presentation are available on the TCS YouTube Channel: Air Quality Panel Discussion. To get involved or learn more about TCS, email, follow on social media via: Facebook and Twitter and join the TCS Discord.

Board Spotlight: Lester E. Taylor Featured Speaker on Water is the New Oil

Lester E. Taylor Featured Speaker on Water is the New Oil

Lester E. Taylor joined the Sustainable Jersey Board of Trustees in 2018; he serves on the Executive Committee and is the Chair of our Development Committee. Sustainable Jersey is grateful for his tremendous contributions to our organization. Taylor, a partner at the law firm of Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor LLC, appeared on a recent edition of the NFN Radio News Podcast. The podcast, Water is the New Oil, focused on how drinking water is an essential natural resource that is facing serious challenges. Taylor, who speaks nationally on environmental and infrastructure issues, pointed out that the nation faces numerous challenges. "Ultimately, our resources, water, electricity, you have to invest in them and reinvest in them to make the delivery stronger," he said. "There's no one-time fix for a pipe, an aquifer. There are so many different systems for water delivery in our state, in our country, that it requires continuous investment." A smart, experienced leader, Taylor has received numerous awards and provides valuable insight and guidance to many New Jersey organizations. View his professional resume here. Former New Jersey Governor James J. Florio, a Founding Partner of Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor LLC, also participates in this podcast. Governor Florio served on the Sustainable Jersey Board in 2011.

Energy Efficiency Programs Transition Information

New Jersey Clean Energy Program logo

Information on New Jersey's Energy Efficiency Programs Transition is available on New Jersey's Clean Energy Program™ (NJCEP) website. While NJCEP will continue to offer some energy efficiency programs, such as Local Government Energy Audits (LGEA), Energy Saving Improvement Program (ESIP), new construction, and solar programs, all of the investor-owned gas and electric utility companies will now offer energy efficiency programs such as equipment rebates, appliance recycling, residential and commercial retrofits, directly to their customers. Please visit for information and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and join the Energy Efficiency Listserv for additional details and updates.

Sustainability Heroes

June: Jennifer Feltis Cortese New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection July: Stella Nwanguma, Principal, Winslow Township Middle School, Camden County August: Candice Davenport, Health Officer, Maplewood Health Department, Essex County

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