STAR Neighborhoods Action Items

The following action items were designed to make your neighborhood a STAR Neighborhood: Sustainable, Together and Resilient.

Action items are organized within one of six focus areas: People, Energy, Water, Land, Air, and Consumption, each of which has its own goal.

Our actions are simply suggestions. You are more than welcome to propose any other action that meets a focus area goal.

Finally, as you review the action items, remember to consider each as an outreach, seminar, or implementation activity. For more information, read about the STAR Neighborhood program.

People.

GOAL: All Princeton community members are prepared for climate change.

People action items build and strengthen a neighborhood community. Some actions strengthen social bonds. Others prepare the community to withstand the extreme weather events that are predicted with climate change.

Host a Neighborhood Gathering — Required to Start.

Social glue is necessary for every sustainable neighborhood effort. Plan a bike parade, block party, wine tasting or cook-out — pick what works for your area and have fun getting to know your neighbors!

Establish Your Leadership & Goals — Required to Start.

Meet with neighbors to determine your community’s goals and starting actions. Define your leaders, ensure they represent the diversity of your neighborhood, and define your future STAR Neighborhoods meeting schedule.

Develop a Neighborhood Communications Network — Required to Start.

Identify all neighbors and define potential forms of communication (e.g., social media or phone and email trees) so you can effectively communicate with and assist each other during adverse events.

Join the Neighborhood Buddy Initiative — Priority Action.

Identify neighbors at risk and encourage members of the community to take on the task of checking in with these neighbors during emergency events, providing support, and connecting them as needed to professional services. Learn more.

Make Your Neighborhood Emergency Responsive — Priority Action.

Encourage all of your neighbors to register to receive alerts about emergencies and other important community news, while also identifying those who may need assistance in the event of a major disaster through the Register Ready program.

Gain a CERT-Trained Neighbor

Support at least one member of your neighborhood in attending training to learn emergency preparedness skills so that person can assist our first responders as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member.

Prepare and Distribute Resiliency Kits

Experts recommend that every resident store water, canned foods, a battery-operated radio, flashlight, first aid kit, and more. To help all of your neighbors be better prepared, compile and distribute resiliency kits.

Be a Small Group That Changes the World

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Now’s your chance! Find an unsustainable action within town, and work together to voice your opinion and find a solution.

Energy.

GOAL: All Princeton community members efficiently use affordable clean energy.

Energy action items primarily focus on energy-efficiency initiatives. By reducing energy needs, a homeowner reduces monthly utility bills and lowers their carbon footprint.

Promote Home Energy Audits — Priority Action.

Home Energy Audits are designed to identify the many ways your home could be made more energy efficient. Work with Sustainable Princeton to learn about best audit program for your neighborhood, and share the money-saving opportunities with your neighbors.

Analyze Home Energy Usage — Priority Action.

Check out a watt-meter from Sustainable Princeton so you and your neighbors can learn about the energy used by your appliances, then make a plan to reduce your home energy use.

Organize a Weatherization Workshop

From smart thermostats to duct sealing, invite a local hardware store or contractor to showcase products and projects to insulate homes against temperature extremes so your neighbors can work to lower their energy bills.

Host an Energy 101

Community solar, geothermal energy and green-e providers, oh my! Host an educational seminar about NJ’s energy system, and the latest opportunities to bring renewable energy to your neighborhood.

Lead an Energy Star Campaign

Encourage your neighbors to take the Energy Star Pledge to change energy behaviors, install energy-efficient appliances, and track energy usage, so everyone uses less energy and spends less money.

Arrange a Green Building Seminar

Any type of building has the potential to become a green building, including those in your neighborhood. Host a speaker to educate your neighbors about the amazing technologies that allow homes to become carbon-free.

Distribute Our Energy Incentives Catalog

Share Sustainable Princeton’s list of discounts, rebates, low-income programs and other financial incentives for making energy-efficient improvements.

Walk for Efficient Light Bulbs

Go door-to-door educating your neighbors about the money saving advantages of LED over conventional light bulbs.

Water.

GOAL: All Princeton community members treat water as a valuable resource.

Water action items help limit flooding or improve water quality. Some actions offer money-saving potential via a reduction in home water bills.

Tour Local Green Infrastructure Examples — Priority Action.

By retaining rainfall from small storms, green infrastructure reduces stormwater discharge and mitigates flood risk. Arrange to tour local rain gardens and other green infrastructure examples. How can your neighborhood or a local park incorporate these ideas?

River-Friendly Neighborhood Drive — Priority Action.

Encourage your neighbors to join the Watershed Institute’s River-Friendly Certification Program. Learn how to reduce pollution, conserve water, restore habitat for wildlife and become better environmental stewards.

Establish Healthier Stream Banks

Learn how you can protect vegetation and prevent erosion around neighborhood waterways and then organize your neighbors to act. By reducing flooding impacts, you can prevent damage to nearby homes.

Adopt Neighborhood Storm Drains

Identify your neighborhood’s storm drains and work together to rake the leaves and other debris away from the drain year-round.

Sponsor a Rain Barrel Workshop

Free water for your neighborhood’s lawns! Hold a workshop to inform residents on how to install and maintain rain barrels, so your neighborhood gets to enjoy this benefit.

Create a Clean-Up Crew

Every time it rains, litter and other unwanted debris wash into our streams, creating a rather undesirable mess in certain areas. Neighbors can help by committing to regular cleanup of a local waterway, field, or park.

Lead a Leaky Faucet Repair Team

Build a team of neighborhood volunteers who can be contacted to repair leaky faucets, or arrange for a plumber to come and perform this service for the whole neighborhood at one time.

Land.

GOAL: All Princeton community members use their property to sustain life.

Land action items are designed to support wildlife. Some actions offer money-saving potential in surprising ways.

Pilot a ‘Leave Your Leaves’ Campaign — Priority Action.

By leaving leaves on your property, you can enrich your soil, reduce water pollution, and prevent the town’s costly operation of picking up leaves. Encourage your neighbors to make this simple, cost-effective switch.

Create Wildlife-Friendly Yards — Priority Action.

Rally your neighbors to enact wildlife friendly yards that meet the goals of Certified Wildlife Habitat, Monarch Waystations, or a similar program.

Establish Low-Maintenance, Low-Mow Areas

‘Low mow zones’ are mowed only a few times a year, allowing native plants and grasses to grow, saving you time and money while supporting wildlife.

Host a Backyard Compost Workshop

Join with your neighbors to learn how to turn your leaves and certain food scraps into a nutritious fertilizer for your lawn.

Demo Gardening and Homesteading Actions

From victory gardens to honey bees to hens, host a seminar to explore the many ways to transform yards and community spaces into a source for delicious foods.

Compile a Neighborhood Tree Inventory

Compile a tree inventory, indicating plants on the “Do Not Plant” or “Native Tree” lists, to better appreciate the value of your neighborhood trees, identify current tree infestations, and be prepared for next one.

Establish an Invasive Removal Team

Identify NJ’s top ten invasive plants, determine where they exist in your neighborhood, and work with your neighbors to remove them.

Engage with Landscapers on Best Practices

“Mulch volcanoes” are a surprisingly common occurrence, even though they are known to promote rot and disease in trees. Share this and other best practices with landscapers in your neighborhood.

Alternative Pest Management

Host an educational workshop to inform neighbors of alternative, safe methods to pest management methods for both home and yard.

Air.

GOAL: All Princeton community members consider methods to achieve clean air for all.

Air action items improve air quality. Low-carbon options for transportation and lawn maintenance help us all breathe easier and lower our carbon footprint.

Host an Electric Vehicle Showcase — Priority Action.

Invite a speaker to explain the benefits of electric transportation, while others display their electric cars, bikes, scooters, or boats

Build a Car Share program or a Carpool Network — Priority Action.

Enjoy the benefits of using or riding in a car, without the cost of ownership! Invite a speaker to discuss ways these networks have already been brought to Princeton, and how they might work for your neighborhood.

Launch an Anti-Idling Campaign

Did you know that idling for more than 3 minutes is prohibited within NJ? Not only that, idling is unhealthy and “fuelish” — you may as well be burning dollar bills! Build a campaign to educate about these issues.

Neighborhood Tree Planting

Hold an event for neighbors to work together to plant trees in yards or along the street to improve air quality and reduce stormwater runoff.

In-Home Air Quality Promotion

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can’t be seen or smelled. It is a leading cause of lung cancer in the US. Encourage your neighbors to get test kits from the Health Department so everyone can breathe a little easier.

Coordinate an Electric Lawn Equipment Demo

Invite neighbors to check out electric lawn mowers and help educate the community about landscaping companies that use electric equipment and the benefits of going electric.

Establish Bike to Work/School Days

Work with your neighbors to designate more “Bike to School or Work Days” for your neighborhood.

Participate in a Carbon Footprint Challenge

Research carbon footprint challenges and select one for your neighborhood. Establish goals and monitor your progress along the way.

Determine Your Neighborhood’s Walkability and Bikeability

What could be done to increase your willingness to walk more or bike across our town? Consider your neighborhood for its ability to meet the town’s walking and biking goals and share your results with town leaders.

Consumption.

GOAL: All Princeton community members generate less waste and handle it properly.

Consumption action items reduce waste, strengthen resource recovery.  Actions that reduce consumption offer money-saving potential.

Host a Recycling 101 — Priority Action.

Plastic bags don’t belong in your curbside recycling bin, but clean ones can be upcycled through local grocery stores. Host a seminar that teaches your neighbors the ins and outs of the recycling world.

Materials Collection Event Drives — Priority Action.

From hazardous waste to old electronics, the town organizes several special events to collect certain items. Educate your neighbors and find a driver for each event. That’s more waste getting properly handled, and less gas money spent to achieve that goal!

Establish a Community Resource Library

What do you own that others in your neighborhood might love to borrow? A ladder, a pressure cooker, or a saw? Build a list of items that can be shared so your neighbors buy less and build more relationships.

Organize a Hard-To-Recycle Collection

A surprising variety of items — chip bags, juice pouches, and old toothbrushes — can be upcycled if you organize and do it together!

Host a Community Yard Sale / Donation Pickup

Encourage everyone to clear out their attic and host a neighborhood-wide yard sale. Make a little money while your item finds a new home, then donate anything left during one neighborhood-wide donation pickup

Make a Disposable Plastic Pledge

Have each neighbor choose one plastic item they can refuse — bags, take-out containers, straws — and together, strategize the best ways to make the transition towards a plastic-free life

Demonstrate a Low-Waste Celebration

How low can you go? Save money when hosting an event by buying in bulk, focusing on homemade, and skipping disposable products. Inspire others to do the same and show just how easy it is to be a low-waste host

Sponsor a Neighborhood Repair Café

Bring your neighbors together to fix broken items and learn new skills from experts who can provide handy expertise.

Don’t see the solution you have in mind?

Remember, these are only suggestions. You are more than welcome to create any other action items that meet any of the six focus area goals.

 

Looking for a printable version of this list? Here it is.

Sustainable Princeton is here for you! We want to see your neighborhood succeed and achieve certification, so please ask for support and guidance at any step along the way. We can help brainstorm actions, find resources, and organize tours and speakers – just ask!

Thank you to our generous sponsor,
NRG Energy, Inc.