on Oct 28, 2014
Today Sustainable Jersey launched a groundbreaking certification program for New Jersey public schools that want to go green, conserve resources and take steps to create a brighter future, one school at a time. The program, “Sustainable Jersey for Schools,” provides tools, training and resources to support and reward schools as they pursue sustainability initiatives.
At the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) Workshop 2014 in Atlantic City, speakers Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director and Donna Drewes, co-director of Sustainable Jersey were joined on-stage by the key leadership from eight partner organizations to announce the program.
The Sustainable Jersey for Schools program partners include: New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), New Jersey Association of School Business Officials (NJASBO), New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), New Jersey Parent Teacher Association (NJPTA), New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA), New Jersey School Buildings and Grounds Association (NJSBGA) and The Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey. These partners bring extensive expertise and far-reaching networks to connect to all of the levels of the public school community in New Jersey. The partners were an integral part of a comprehensive coalition of educational organizations and academic, business and state agency partners that helped develop and vet the certification program actions.
“Today is a momentous day. Launching Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a huge step forward in our goal to make a measurable impact on the future sustainability of New Jersey,” said Donna Drewes, co-director of Sustainable Jersey. “Sustainable Jersey for Schools will provide a greater reach into our communities while offering our state’s 2,500 public schools resources to help them attain significant environmental, academic, financial and health benefits.”
Forward thinking schools in New Jersey have already begun to move in this direction. Heather McCall, program director for Sustainable Jersey for Schools, provided an example. “Since 2007, when the Galloway Township Public School District started tracking and implementing energy management programs, it has had energy savings of over $4.5 million,” she said. “The energy reduction impact is equivalent to over 1,800 passenger cars not driving for one year. These savings are significant for a school district and can free up much needed money for the classroom.”
Sustainable Jersey for Schools began as a partnership between Sustainable Jersey and NJSBA, and is one of several NJSBA projects to promote sustainable schools. “Sustainable Jersey for Schools represents the New Jersey School Boards Association’s commitment to safe and healthy school environments,” said the organization’s executive director, Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod. “Sustainable practices result in healthier schools. They reduce operating costs and free up money for the classroom. And, in the end, they contribute to student success.”
Based on the highly successful Sustainable Jersey certification program for municipalities (74% of New Jersey municipalities are participating), Sustainable Jersey for Schools promotes a comprehensive and results-oriented approach to sustainability for schools. The certification application is based on a selection of 87 actions in 17 categories. Participating schools will earn points for certain actions, such as performing energy audits, integrating sustainability into student learning, and boosting recycling efforts. The program will help schools improve efficiency, cut waste and contribute to students’ education in the key areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, often referred to as STEM education.
To get started in the program, a school board must adopt a resolution of participation and then register at the Sustainable Jersey for Schools website (www.SustainableJerseySchools.com). Then each school in that district may register on the program website. The website provides the list of sustainability actions and implementation tools available.