Schools

Thank you for your interest. This is the first step toward taking action. There is a lot that schools can do to create a more sustainable community.

Quick Facts:

Did You Know?

Energy Reduction.

Hopewell Valley Regional School District has rooftop solar on multiple buildings, as well as geothermal heating and cooling systems, which have reduced energy usage by 30%.

Save Money.

With a solar array and rooftop solar on four buildings, Franklin Township Public Schools have saved over $440,000 in two years.

Solar Options.

Plainfield Public Schools anticipate saving nearly 2.5 million over the next 15 years with the installation of rooftop solar on seven buildings.

Facilities and Operations.

Reduce energy use and costs.

Colleges, universities, public K-12 schools, and select nonprofits should follow this process to lower their energy bills.

Initial Assessment.

Perform a Local Government Energy Audit. The resulting report details specific energy measures to reduce your energy use and various incentives from the NJ Clean Energy Program to help cover the cost of the suggested work.

Review the energy audit.

Determine the next approach. Will you pursue one or more incentive program, or go the route of creating an Energy Savings Plan? Depending on your facility, either approach may work and are described below.

Pursue energy incentive programs.

The Energy Audit will identify a number of state-funded programs that apply to your situation, such as:

  • Direct Install pays up to 70% of the project cost to replace lighting, HVAC, and other outdated operational equipment with energy-efficient alternatives.
  • Pay for Performance was designed to help larger facilities save 15% or more on energy consumption and to construct new buildings efficiently.
  • New Jersey SmartStart Buildings provide a range of free support for new construction, renovations, or equipment upgrades, yielding substantial energy savings.
  • Combined Heat & Power provides incentives for on-site power generation with recovery and productive waste heat.
Develop and adopt an energy saving plan.

An Investment Grade Energy Audit is next and results in an Energy Savings Plan. This plan analyzes the financial aspects of energy savings and the return on investment from the upgrades. The governing body formally adopts and acts on this Energy Savings Plan.

Invest in renewable energy.

Several school districts in New Jersey have incorporated solar with big savings for their district by following these steps.

1. Initiation.

The first step involves engaging an energy consultant. Some districts implement this through a competitive process while others achieve this through the Alliance for Competitive Energy Services (ACESplus).

2. Site analysis.

An energy consultant considers potential sites. Solar panels can be mounted on a flat or slanted roof, as a ground-mounted array, or on a parking lot shade structure.

3. Vendor selection.

School leadership issues project specifications and collects bids from several contractors. With the assistance of the energy consultant, a winning bidder is selected.

4. Construction.

Once the contract is awarded, the contractor designs and installs the system, obtaining all necessary permits, inspections, and approvals.

5. Solar energy education.

Schools are remarkably poised to educate students and the community on their efforts through displays, tours, and more.

Source Renewable Energy.

If onsite renewable energy generation is not an option, you can still offset your energy use by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs). The Alliance for Competitive Energy Services (ACES) can help school districts to obtain such renewable energy products at competitive prices.

Transportation.

Help your staff and students get to work sustainably.

Encourage biking.

Support commuters by providing covered bike parking or storage. Offer outlets to allow e-bikes and e-scooters to recharge.

Consider a bike share.

Depending on your location, a bike-share program could reduce the need for staff to drive for off-site lunch or meetings.

Advertise alternative transportation.

Help your employees learn about carpool, carshare, and rideshare opportunities, as well as bus and train options.

Support electric vehicles.

Install EV charging. New Jersey’s It Pay$ to Plug In program provides grants to offset the cost of purchasing and installing charging stations.

Don’t guess.

Ask your staff and students what they will use. We are happy to provide a Lunch & Learn event to review the options and then distribute a survey to ascertain interest. Please contact us.

Purchasing.

Your buying decisions have a big impact.

Develop a green purchasing policy.

Environmentally preferable purchasing helps the environment — with significant savings for you. The NJ School Board Association offers sustainability consulting services for schools.

Give up disposables.

Work with your cafeteria to end the use of disposable cutlery, straws, and plates. Save money by switching to washable products.

Encourage BYO behaviors.

Offer water refill stations and space for staff and students to rinse their bottles or mugs, eliminating the need for plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups.

Waste.

We’re getting buried in trash. You can help.

Reduce Food Waste.

Review the School Food Waste Guidelines prepared by the NJDEP for K-12 schools and higher education institutions.

Think about compost.

Consider collecting food waste and composting on-site to provide nutrients for your school garden. Start by collecting scraps only in the kitchen.

Make it low-waste.

Plan for bake sales and other school events to be low-waste events.

Train frequently.

Educate janitorial staff and aides, as well as teachers and administration, on collection rules. Ask volunteers to assist in education at the bins.

Clarify signs.

Clear and consistent signage is vital — check out DIYsigns or Recycle Across America.

Keep it together.

To prevent contamination, ensure your recycling and/or compost bins are kept beside a properly-labeled trash can.

Bring in special collections.

Granola bar wrappers and chip bags can get upcycled through special hard-to-recycle options.

Reuse supplies.

Encourage locker collections and other efforts to reuse school supplies.

Landscaping.

Your property has the potential to reduce our emissions, support wildlife, and save money.

Convert grass to a no-mow meadow.

Consider areas that could be planted with meadow grasses. This will support pollinators and birds and save you money from mowing maintenance.

Introduce natives & remove invasives.

Plenty of native plant options are aesthetically appealing and support the local eco-system.

Plant more trees.

Consider whether additional trees can be planted. They provide shade, soak up stormwater and are a carbon sink — just to name a few of the benefits!

Leave the leaves.

Have your landscaper mulch leaves back into your property. This nourishes your soil and reduce the need for costly fertilization.

Install green infrastructure.

Consider incorporating a rain garden or bioswales at the edges of parking lots and in other low areas. The more stormwater properties soak up, the less chance of water causing issues elsewhere.

Get rid of gas-powered lawn equipment.

If you don’t maintain your own property, seek out a landscaper that will use electric equipment and sustainable practices.

Looking for additional landscaping tips?

Check out our Yard guidance.

Join one of these programs today.

Be sure to get credit (and free promotion) for your actions! Join one of the following certification programs which provide a helpful roadmap and resources to achieve greater sustainability goals. Best of all, no one has to act alone!

Sustainable Jersey for Schools

A comprehensive program designed specifically for schools

LEARN MORE

NJ Sustainable Business Registry

Perfect for non-profits and higher education institutions

Learn More

Green Restaurant Association

A comprehensive pathway for cafeterias

Learn More

ReThink Disposable Campaign

Tips and assistance for cafeterias to reduce waste

Learn More

Quick Facts:

Did You Know?

Schools not to be left behind.

Six Princeton public schools are bronze-certified by Sustainable Jersey for Schools.

Check it out.

Review the Local Government Energy Audits for many New Jersey school districts, including the Princeton Public Schools, on this NJCEP webpage.

Moving right along.

At least ten different schools in New Jersey have developed an Energy Savings Plan. Check them out at this NJCEP webpage.

The Princeton Climate Action Plan

Climate change is here.

The Climate Action Plan provides a roadmap to reduce Princeton’s contribution to climate change and to prepare for its effects.

All hands on deck!

The plan requires the collective effort of the entire community — every neighborhood, business, and school — working together to ensure Princeton remains a prosperous and vibrant town for future generations.

Learn more.

The Princeton Climate Action Plan identifies multiple strategies to reduce our emissions from the goods and services we utilize.