Winners of the 2019 Environmental Achievement Awards
Environmental Commission Category
Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission: Berkeley Heights Vegan Fest 2018
The Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC) sponsored a three-day long Vegan Fest. Through attendee education and participation, the event aims to provide residents with tools to incorporate healthy living into their daily lives. All parts of the event were free and open to the public. Over 100 people, babies through seniors, attended the event.
Cherry Hill Environmental Board: Conservation Community Service Project
The Cherry Hill Environmental Board (CHEB) decided to provide opportunities for community groups and individuals to help improve public lands.
Through establishing a recruitment and volunteer coordinator, the conservation projects worked on and completed a variety of conservation projects.
Closter Environmental Commission: Closter MacBain Farm
The original and on-going mission of MacBain Farm is to introduce Closter families to fresh produce – how it is planted, grown and harvested. There are no pesticides used on the farm. Closter residents are permitted to pick one red bucket full of veggies each day the farm is opened (presently three days a week) at no cost whatsoever. Residents are encouraged to volunteer at the farm to help with weeding, in addition to welcoming visitors and learning and teaching about what happens at the farm. There is a section of the farm, close to the parking lot that has a handicapped accessible entrance with paver paths and raised beds for handicapped individuals to also enjoy the farm experience.
Delaware Township Environmental Commission: Meadow Trail
The Delaware Township Environmental Commission (EC) capitalized on an opportunity to restore a wetlands and the surrounding area back to its native habitat for use as a community resource, transforming it into an outdoor STEM classroom for the 400-500 students at the adjacent school and an open space stewardship education site for the greater community.
Hackensack Environmental Commission: Hackensack Community Garden
The Hackensack Environmental Commission (EC) was re-formed in 2018 and among one of their duties is to research the use and possible use of the open land areas of the city. The EC located an area of land that was being under-utilized, and had the City Council pass a resolution designating the property as green space. The garden has become a community hub and provides educational opportunities for residents. Planting the community garden there has refocused attention on this unused resource.
Hopewell Township (Mercer) Environmental Committee: Out of the Ashes and the American Chestnut
The Hopewell Township Environmental Committee (EC) conducted an inventory of ash trees in 2017, when the incipient loss of their tree cover due to the Emerald Ash Borer became apparent. They then proposed a two-pronged approach to deal with the loss.
Working with multiple organizations in the Hopewell Valley, the EC has educated the public on the loss of the ash trees. The EC also has committed to reforestation throughout the Township with an innovative partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation and several area environmental groups. Orchards of chestnut trees have been planted, highlighting the efforts to restore this iconic and economically important American native tree which is in danger of extinction due to the chestnut blight. The EC is committed to helping to resurrect the American chestnut in the shadow of the great loss of ash trees.
Madison Environmental Commission: Plastic Free Week
To help create momentum for a Single-Use Bag ordinance, the Madison Environmental Commission (MEC) launched a Plastic-Free week and urged residents to take seven voluntary actions. The campaign enabled them to make a presentation to the Borough Council on the hazards of plastic pollution.
Waterford Twp. Environmental Commission: Recycling Sticker Project
Waterford Township decided to undertake expanded public outreach to educate about recycling. Using information gathered the EC helped to create a town flyer, which incorporated guidelines. These flyers were posted on the Township and EC Facebook pages, handed out at local events, and were available in public places, such as the town hall and library. Next the EC with neighboring town, Berlin, worked to create a sticker to match the flyer they had already distributed throughout the town. Within five days, they had successfully placed 3,800 stickers on bins. The extra stickers were placed in public places, such as the town hall and library, for any of the townsfolk whose cans were missed. Their last “sticker notification” was in the form of a tax bill insert, which displayed the sticker, along with a note of explanation.
Rutgers Center for Environmental Exposures and Disease: Countdown to Cleaner Air: Street Scientists and the Fight for First Street
Local community members, in partnership with community -based organizations, churches, Rutgers University and elected officials took action in Elizabeth NJ that led to cleaner air by banning container trucks in their neighborhood.
On May 10, 2017, the City of Elizabeth Council unanimously passed an ordinance to restrict traffic on First Street to vehicles under four tons, essentially banning tractor trailers. A report done after the ban began showed that “Community truck counts documented a drastic reduction in truck traffic, especially diesel tractor trailer trucks on First Street, comparing May 24, 2013 to March 14, 2018. There was an 86 percent reduction in truck traffic. Average measurements of black carbon and ultrafine particle counts (also a sensitive indicator of traffic pollution) were consistent with the truck counts, showing a reduction of about 80 percent.”
Rowan GeoLab, The Nature Conservancy & NJ Conservation Foundation: The New Jersey Conservation Blueprint Phase II — Protecting New Jersey’s Land and Legacy
The Conservation Blueprint Phase II represents a major overhaul and rebranding of the web site completed in June 2019. The web mapping interface was completely redesigned to be more intuitive, efficient and elegant. Multiple technical enhancements improved functionality and search capabilities. The initiative also included a major redesign and rebranding of the landing page including new icons and logos for the various themes. https://www.njmap2.com/blueprint/
Sustainable Essex Alliance Energy Procurement Cooperative: Community Choice Energy Aggregation for Five Essex County Towns
The towns of Maplewood, South Orange, Montclair, Verona, and Glen Ridge contracted for a third-party electricity supplier which resulted in favorable bids for their residents. Each of the towns held town hall meetings after the contract was awarded to inform residents about the program and their right to opt out if they chose. About 85% of the eligible residents remained in the program which will run through December 2020.
The winning bid and the resulting contract is expected to save residents about 10% of the supply price, averaging about $150 per residence. The provisions require that the supply include 20% more Renewable Energy Certificates than required by New Jersey law and marks the communities’ commitment to encourage a rapid transition to renewable electricity supply.