Three years ago the Mountain Lakes Green Team pulled together all the environmentally friendly things Mountain Lakes residents and the Municipality were doing and achieved Silver Certification from Sustainable Jersey (SJ) and it is time to apply for recertification.
Sustainable Jersey is “a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term.” SJ has a variety of actions that a municipality can work on. In 2012, Mountain Lakes achieved Bronze Certification by accumulating over 150 points worth of actions. In 2014, we achieved Silver Certification, which is over 350 points. So far this year we have 180 points in the bag, but we have two more deadlines in September and November to complete the 350.
So what does this Certification get us? To start out, we are functioning as a more sustainably responsible community. By completing these actions, we are creating less waste and more of it is getting recycled; our buildings are much more energy efficient, saving us hundreds of thousands of dollars in heating and lighting; and our children are learning about the importance of sustainability and how to instigate change. Beyond these basic benefits, we are getting grant money to change our infrastructure to support a more sustainable lifestyle.
We are applying for points for the work by so many environmentally friendly volunteer and municipal organizations. The Green Team has gotten grant money from both Sustainable Jersey and the Town Club for the Rainbarrel Workshops, distributing composters to residents at wholesale prices, and encouraging residents to use reusable bags when shopping. The Environmental Commission reviews construction site plans and helps educate residents and students on environmental topics. The Shade Tree Commission (STC) helps protect our tree canopy, manage the street trees, and educates residents on the importance of trees. They have also received Town Club Grant money to plant more street trees. The Garden Club brought in the Compost Guru from Montclair to teach us all about composting.
The Department of Public Works (DPW) manages the Recycling Center, making it easier for residents to repurpose, recycle, and safely dispose of more materials than they are mandated to. The DPW also manage the school and public grounds using sustainable methods that don’t hinder nature’s natural functions. They have also been working on a very large project auditing, then upgrading all the buildings to be more energy efficient.
The Communications Committee has gotten many points for this very clear comprehensive Municipal Website which helps residents find all relevant information and file requests. The Traffic & Safety Committee is helping the schools teach parents about the State anti-idling law and children are encouraged to walk and bike to school like we did in the old days, reducing traffic congestion and keeping our kids healthy. The Historic Preservation Committee updated the Historic Preservation Ordinance in March this year. It is very nicely documented in their part of the MtnLakes.org website. The Fire Department still holds their paper shredding day twice a year, and it raises funds for them too.
The Wildwood Elementary School has gotten grant money to build the outdoor classroom. Just like the free energy they supply, the solar panels on the High School will get lots of points once we show Sustainable Jersey that they are still in operation.
From all these groups and more, each action they perform is more points toward a higher SJ Certification level. The Green team helps all the different groups pull together their documentation so all their hard work can be counted toward our standing. By volunteering on The Green Team, one has the tremendous pleasure of working with people from the Municipal offices, the schools, the DPW, the Police and Fire Departments, and other volunteers on various clubs and Commissions. Thank you everyone!