Announcing Municipal Green Team, Silver Certification and EnergySmart Homes Campaign

Sustainable Princeton, a nonprofit organization focused on practical solutions to reduce energy use and waste, has joined forces with the Municipality of Princeton to assist the town with three new sustainable actions through 2014. Municipal Green Team and Silver Certification

Mayor Liz Lempert has formed a Municipal Green Team to create “greener” municipal operations and Sustainable Princeton is launching its EnergySmart Homes Campaign.  Together, these initiatives will help Princeton secure the 350 points needed to achieve Silver Certification with Sustainable Jersey, a designation only 11 of the 565 municipalities in the state have received.

“The entire town can participate in achieving silver certification. Residents can take part in the EnergySmart Homes Campaign and other actions. The municipality, schools and nonprofit organizations can implement programs to reduce waste and energy and support walking, biking and much more. My goal is for Princeton to become a state leader and, eventually, a national model of sustainable behavior,” Lempert said.

EnergySmart Homes Campaign

The Campaign kicks off with Ciel Power offering home energy assessments at a discounted price of $49 with a goal of assessing at least 100 homes. With support from Princeton University, the next phase of the campaign will feature two panel discussions with local home energy experts and the creation of a video series about the benefits and ‘how to’s’ of home energy improvements that will be aired during Princeton Public Library’s Environmental Film Festival in February 2014.

To learn more about the EnergySmart Homes Campaign, see this previous post on the selection of our first EnergySmart Homes Campaign partner.

Silver Certification Actions

Towns can receive points for more than 100 actions, such as establishing a sustainable land use policy, hosting farmers’ markets, establishing an organics recycling program, and supporting school gardens, to name a few. Most of the points come from potential  actions taken by municipal departments such as Public Works, Health, Engineering, and Planning.

The members of the Municipal Green Team are: Princeton Mayor, Liz Lempert; Princeton Administrator, Robert Bruschi; Princeton Environmental Commission Liaison; Gail Ullman; Princeton Planning Board Liaison, Cecelia Birge; Princeton Engineer, Robert Kiser; Princeton Health Officer, (to be appointed); Princeton Infrastructure & Operations Director, Robert Hough; and Sustainable Princeton Executive Director, Diane M. Landis.

Princeton is currently certified at the bronze level and will need to gain at least 350 points to reach silver by August of 2014. Twenty points will be earned through the  EnergySmart Homes Campaign, a partnership between Sustainable Princeton and Ciel Power, an accredited contractor through the New Jersey Home Performance with Energy Star Program.  Financial support for the Campaign has been provided by Princeton University’s Office of Community and Regional Affairs, through a $10,000 grant.

Green Teams

The Municipal Green Team is one of several green teams working with Sustainable Princeton to encourage sustainable practices.  Other green teams, chaired by community volunteers, are the Green Core (Community Outreach and Residential Engagement) co-chaired by Annarie Lyles and Alexandra Bar-Cohen and the Green Schools Coalition, co-chaired by Stephanie Chorney and Karen Nathan.

See our home page for a listing of upcoming events, and please contact us to get involved with Sustainable Princeton's work with green teams and other sustainability efforts.

Sustainable Princeton Selects First Partner for EnergySmart Homes Campaign

Sustainable Princeton has awarded a contract to Ciel Power LLC to conduct 100 low cost home energy assessments for Princeton residents over the next year as part of its EnergySmart Homes Campaign. The EnergySmart Homes campaign focuses on practical ways for homeowners to save energy and money and will help the town of Princeton earn silver certification as a sustainable community with Sustainable Jersey, a certifying organization for the state. The town of Princeton is currently certified at the bronze level as a Sustainable Community.

Table top display showing Mayors letter and brochures about the EnergySmart Homes campaign.

“Our EnergySmart Homes Campaign streamlines the process of choosing a home energy auditor and offers home energy assessments at a reasonable rate of $49 so homeowners can easily take the first step towards home energy savings and efficiency,” says Matthew Wasserman, Chairman of the Board of Sustainable Princeton.

Ciel Power is a Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified provider of residential energy assessments and energy-efficient home retrofits and has conducted similar municipal campaigns in Highland Park and Woodbridge, New Jersey.

“We are honored that Sustainable Princeton selected Ciel Power LLC as its EnergySmart Homes Campaign partner.  Our organization has demonstrated tremendous success in prior municipal campaigns and we look forward to doing the same in Princeton,” says Scott Fischer, Managing Member of Ciel Power LLC.

 New Jersey Home Performance Incentives

Many New Jersey homeowners are unaware that significant incentives are available to them to upgrade insulation, and replace inefficient heating & cooling equipment. The New Jersey Home Performance with Energy Star Program provides incentives of up to $5,000 in cash-back rebates and up to $10,000 in zero-interest financing to New Jersey residents who make these improvements on their home.  As an accredited contractor through the New Jersey Home Performance with Energy Star Program, Ciel Power can help Princeton residents access these cash-back and financing incentives.

A home energy assessment is an important first step towards an increased awareness of contemporary energy-efficiency measures.  These measures, when properly installed, provide numerous benefits to a homeowner including

  • Economic benefits through reduced seasonal heating & cooling cost
  • Environmental benefits derived from lower overall fossil fuel consumption
  • Lifestyle benefits realized through increased comfort in a home
  • Health benefits realized through proper ventilation & moisture control

$49 Home Energy Assessments

As part of this contract, Ciel Power LLC will provide energy assessment services to Princeton residents at a discounted rate of $49, following guidelines set forth by the Building Performance Institute.  These include safety and efficiency testing of combustion appliances, depressurization of the home, evaluation of existing insulation levels, and a comprehensive report outlining specific deficiencies and prioritized list of recommended improvements based on overall return on investment.

To schedule a home energy assessment at the discounted $49 rate, Princeton residents should call Ciel Power at 201-632-3463.

Learn More

To see how one local homeowner cut his energy bill in half by following the "pyramid of conservation", see this summary of Ted Borer's presentation at our recent lunch & learn residents meeting.   And see this home energy resources page for other ideas about how to save energy and money at  your home.


Princeton Wins $20,000 Grant for Curbside Food Waste Program!

Princeton has been awarded a Sustainable Jersey grant of $20,000 to support the Curbside Food to Compost Program.   Princeton is one of just four communities, out of 28 applicants in the $20,000 category, to receive a grant of this size. Close up of green rolling food waste bin at side of driveway

The grant will support a campaign, spearheaded by Sustainable Princeton, to expand the town’s award-winning program.

The Curbside program, which was piloted by the Township Public Works Department, provides participating households with rolling waste bins that are picked up weekly.  Residents use compostable or biodegradable trash bags and fill the bins with food and organic waste, including everything from fish bones to pizza boxes, kitchen trimmings and plate waste. The waste is trucked to a compost facility which turns it into nutrient rich soil.  (See our previous post for more details about the pilot program.)

There are a number of benefits to the Curbside Food to Compost program. Not only does it save money for the town due to increased recycle rates and lower trash dumping fees, but it turns waste into a usable product.

“We are thrilled to accept this grant to assist Princeton in expanding its Curbside Food to Compost program. We believe the program is a model that can be replicated by towns across New Jersey.   Not only does curbside compost make financial sense for a community but it keeps organic waste out of New Jersey’s overburdened landfills and turns it into nutrient rich soil,” says Matthew Wasserman, Board Chair of Sustainable Princeton.

Currently, 460 Princeton households participate in the program, a small portion of the 9,500 housing units in the entire town of Princeton.  Through the grant, Sustainable Princeton aims to increase participation in the curbside organic program to 1500 or more households over an 18 month period.

The 2012 Sustainable Jersey Small Grants Program funded by the PSEG Foundation is providing a total of $200,000 in grants to local governments for sustainability projects.

“PSEG is committed to being a steward of the environment and making meaningful contributions to the communities it serves,” said Anne Hoskins, senior vice president of public affairs and sustainability for PSEG, one of New Jersey’s oldest companies and largest employers. “We are proud to support this program and to fund projects that will make life better in neighborhoods all over New Jersey.”

Sustainable Princeton’s vision is that everyone in Princeton lives and works in ways that are sustainable, including reducing energy use and waste, protecting the natural environment, and meeting human needs fairly and efficiently.

For more information about Sustainable Princeton's programs and projects, please contact Diane or Andrea via our contact page, sign up for our email list, and attend our monthly meetings!  And be sure to see this recent post about our great volunteer opportunities!

Homeowners Save Money and Energy through Sustainable Princeton Housewarming Project

Sustainable Princeton and the Energy Service Corps of New Jersey have teamed up to provide energy assessments and simple energy fixes to ten homes in Princeton in 2012 free of charge. The Housewarming team, funded by a $10,000 grant from the J. Seward Johnson Sr., Charitable Trust, completed work on three Princeton homes in April of 2012, providing $100 in free materials and labor to participating households.  The group is looking for seven additional households to take part in the pilot in the Fall of 2012.

“For most people, a twenty percent return on investment can be realized through home energy improvements. I don't know any other investment strategy that is paying those kind of rates and simple energy fixes improve the comfort and value of your home,” says, Heidi Fichtenbaum, a Sustainable Princeton board member and LEED Accredited Professional with Farewell Architects, LLC who is leading the Housewarming project.

Participating households are asked to collect and share energy bills with Sustainable Princeton from one year before and one year after the Housewarming to note the savings that have taken place.

Each participating household is provided with a two hour assessment of each home’s unique energy issues. The Housewarming team returns to the home a second time to make any simple energy fixes such as weather stripping, caulking or installing outlet gaskets. Each homeowner is then provided a written description of the energy fixes that have been completed which includes suggestions for any additional work that could be accomplished with the help of a contractor.  Sustainable Princeton plans to expand the Housewarming program in 2013.

Reducing energy usage generated from fossil fuels in Princeton homes is one of Sustainable Princeton’s strategic goals for Princeton for 2012 and beyond  Sustainable Princeton’s vision is to create a community that makes a habit of living and working sustainably.

To learn about participation requirements in the Housewarming project, contact Diane Landis or Andrea Malcolm.  To download the Housewarming home improvement checklist see our Home Energy Use resource page.

Home Energy and Pesticide Use Pilot Projects Funded

Sustainable Princeton has received a $10,000 grant from the J. Seward Johnson Sr. Charitable Trust for two new pilot projects:

  • "Housewarming" will assist 10 households (particularly seniors) to make small home improvements to reduce energy use and costs.
  • "By the Yard" will help 10 households reduce pesticide use on their lawns.

Housewarming Pilot Project

Participants in the "Housewarming" pilot will receive on-site consultation and assistance to make the home energy improvements. Households will then share their electric bills before and after the project and report any improvements to Sustainable Princeton and the community.  Sustainable Princeton has partnered with the New Jersey Energy Corps, an AmeriCorps program housed at Princeton University on this project.

Heidi Fichtenbaum, a Sustainable Princeton board member and LEED accredited Architect with Farewell Architects, LLC says, “The Housewarming project has been a dream of mine for some time.  By sharing information about the project with the community we can teach so many individuals about the benefits of home energy improvements including saving money, fewer drafts and less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

For more information about this pilot project, please contact Diane Landis or Andrea Malcolm.

By the Yard Pilot Project

"By the Yard" will focus on households that use pesticides on their lawns and provide each with pesticide free options. Participants will be provided with a water test kit, a rain barrel and a free lawn consultation.  They will then be asked to test water run-off and provide write-ups about their findings on this website.  Sustainable Princeton will also be awarding 100 lawn ornaments to families whose lawns are already pesticide free.  Sustainable Princeton is partnering with the Whole Earth Center in Princeton on this project.

“The By the Yard project is a wonderful opportunity to look at the effects of pesticides and teach homeowners about options to pesticide free lawn care.  The Whole Earth Center looks forward to working with Sustainable Princeton to provide updated information and speakers to support the effort,” says Fran McManus, Marketing director for Whole Earth Center.

For more information about this pilot project, please contact Diane Landis or Andrea Malcolm.