West Orange Township has joined 112 other municipalities throughout the state achieving a Sustainable Jersey certification, officials recently announced.
The township received 170 certification points achieving a bronze certification, which is good for three years.
"West Orange has always been a forward-thinking community and the Sustainable Jersey certification will help us continue to implement our environmentally conscious programs to ensure a sustainable future for our community," Mayor Robert Parisi said.
Although the program is voluntary, since the program launched in 2009, Sustainable Jersey has 380 participating communities, representing more than half of the state's municipalities and nearly 75 percent of its population.
"Sustainable Jersey is successful," notes Donna Drewes, who co-directs the organization with Randall Solomon, "because it champions community-led decision-making and leadership, rather than mandating a top-down, one-size-fits-all plan for New Jersey."
Each Sustainable Jersey municipality that is certified at the bronze-level must submit documentation to show it has completed a balance of the program’s sustainability actions, meeting a minimum of 150 points.
According to the organization, a town will select 10-12 actions from a potential list of more than 117 actions that include areas such as a commitment to environmental stewardship, community gardens, supporting local businesses, conservation of energy and water and waste reduction and recycling.
Councilwoman Susan McCartney coordinated township efforts to create ordinances, resolutions, pledges and policies to upload as supporting documents for each of the components on the application.
"The organization's guidelines were already in line what we were doing but we needed to get the documentation in place," Mccartney said.
The township obtained points towards the certification by creating a Green Team and an energy commission, including working with the open-space commission and maintained trees and reducing waste.
West Orange also set up recycling programs throughout the town and drop-offs for electronics.
McCartney added the certification was achieved with the help of the members of the West Orange Energy Commission, the township department directors and the township grant writer.
Sustainable Jersey is a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that supports community efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental equity. It provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward communities as they pursue sustainability programs.