Scientists agree that there are ways to avoid the most dangerous climate impacts, and reduce the risks from a changing climate, that are both available and affordable. Our decisions today will shape the world our children and grandchildren will live in. Click below for more information on what the state is doing to address climate change and how can you help.
Adopting sustainable practices can reduce your business’s carbon footprint, and improve the quality of life for your employees, customers and local community. Making green choices also has a sustainable return on investment, helping you benefit economically, socially and environmentally. Learn more about how to green your business with this list:
Calculating your business’s carbon footprint can help you identify the biggest opportunities for energy use reduction and help you prioritize the steps you can take to cut emissions. Check out these Business Carbon Footprint Calculators to get started:
CoolClimate Network Calculator
TerraPass Carbon Calculator
Put a green spin on your business strategy, conduct a Green SWOT Analysis comparing your business model strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from a sustainability perspective. Performing a strategic sustainability analysis can help you embrace green strategies throughout your operations reduce costs, jumpstart growth and enhance performance. This can be done by use of energy benchmarking and energy audits.
Electronics and office equipment, like computers, monitors, printers, and stereos continue to draw electricity when they’re plugged in and off. The best way to avoid this wasted energy is by unplugging electronics when they are not in use. Consider using a power strip with an on/off switch to make it easier to unplug. And remember to improve your energy efficiency by upgrading to Energy Star products. Check out the NJDEP Energy Guide for more tips to reduce your energy use!
The majority (42%) of New Jersey’s greenhouse gas Emissions come from transportation. Do your part to reduce emissions by encouraging your employees to carpool, purchase electric vehicles and use public transportation. Consider installing a workplace charging station to support greener employee commuting and attract customers. . Incentivize employees by offering priority parking for carpooled or electric vehicles. Check out Drive Green New Jersey and EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide to learn more!
Evaluate your supply chain and commit to making greener purchasing decisions. Try to partner with businesses and organizations that are closer to your location to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Evaluate your products, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and distribution processes to reduce energy consumption and achieve major cost savings. Check out the UN Global Compact Supply Chain Sustainability Guide and the NJDEP Purchasing Guide to learn more.
The New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry recognizes and promotes sustainable businesses across New Jersey. This free program is open to all businesses located in New Jersey who want to promote their sustainability.
For more information on how to green your business check our Sustainable Business Guides.
The average American’s annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is 20 metric tons. With multi-person households, the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses escaping into our atmosphere is exponential. However, there are many simple changes you can make in your home to reduce your carbon footprint from tree planting to switching to all LED light bulbs. This list was created to help you get started!
The first step in knowing how to reduce your carbon footprint is learning what yours is. Use this Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to get started.
Even just changing 5 of your most frequently used light bulbs to Energy Star qualified products can save up to $70 a year on energy bills, and have a powerful impact on the environment. They use about 75% less energy than standard lighting.
The majority (42%) of New Jersey’s Greenhouse Gas emissions come from transportation. Do your part to reduce emissions by purchasing the most energy-efficient vehicle that meets your family’s needs. See the car-buying guides at https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.shtml. Check out Drive Green New Jersey and EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide to learn more!
Look for the Energy Star label when purchasing items for the home such as washers and dryers, office equipment and electronics. Over their lifetimes, products in your home that have earned the Energy Star label can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds, which is equivalent to taking 12 cars off the road for one year, saving you approximately $11,000 on energy bills. New Jersey residents can take advantage of the New Jersey Clean Energy Program rebates and incentives to upgrade their appliances to energy star products!
Update your HVAC system to a more energy efficient model, make sure that the system is regularly maintained and fix air leaks and drafts with proper insulation and weather stripping. By taking these steps, you can save up to 20% on heating and cooling energy costs. Learn about heating and cooling degree days to help yourself remain energy efficient, and further reduce your energy costs by making the most of the New Jersey Clean Energy COOLAdvantage Rebate Program and the WARMAdvantage Rebate Program to help fund HVAC upgrades.
It is the law to recycle in New Jersey! By practicing all 3 of the R’s in your household, you conserve energy, reduce the amount of material ending up in landfills, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction, manufacturing, and disposal of waste. Check out the NJDEP Residential Recycling webpage to learn more!
Conserving water not only helps the environment by saving water overall, but it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions due to the amount of energy it takes to pump, treat, and heat water. Do simple things like turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth and fix a leaky toilet. Invest in new fixtures with the WaterSense label to ensure you’re purchasing water-efficient products. For landscaping, only water when needed and do it at the coolest part of the day. For more tips on how to conserve water inside and outside of your home visit the NJDEP Every Drop Counts webpage.
By installing solar panels on your home, you not only will save money on your electric bill, but you will use less electricity from grid sources, which typically have higher emissions. Electricity production is the source of approximately 16% of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey! Learn about more solar incentives here. Check out the NJDEP Solar Siting Analysis to learn about the potential for solar in your community.
When you plant trees, you directly reduce your carbon footprint (because trees sequester CO2), and potentially save energy. Trees and vegetation lower surface and air temperatures up to 9°F by providing shade and through evapotranspiration. Take advantage of free and low-cost tree seedlings from the NJDEP Forest Service to plant more trees on your property. If you own over 5 acres of land you’d like to protect, consider participating in the NJDEP Forest Stewardship Program. Learn about NJDEP’s Urban and Community Forestry program here.
Local government plays an essential role in ensuring New Jersey achieves its 2050 statewide greenhouse gas emissions target. Strong local leadership is needed to transform municipal emissions and to stimulate local action through innovative policies, programs and projects. This list was created to inspire local governments to embrace their role and responsibility in reducing carbon emissions and increasing community resilience to our changing climate.
Planning for climate action begins with conducting a greenhouse gas emissions inventory. An emissions inventory helps your local government operations or community as a whole, establish a baseline to track and measure against future performance. For New Jersey communities just getting started, take advantage of the New Jersey Clean Energy Program Local Government Energy Audit and consider implementing the Sustainable Jersey Municipal Carbon Footprint Action. Advanced municipalities should check out ICLEI’s Local Governments for Sustainability ClearPath Tool. ClearPath is a full-service web application for energy and emissions management.
New Jersey municipalities should develop Climate Action Plans to serve as a roadmap for achieving local emissions reductions and to become more resilient. A Climate Action Plan is a strategic framework to measure, plan, and lower greenhouse gas emissions and related climate change impacts. At a minimum Climate Action Plans include an inventory of existing emissions, reduction goals, and a list of prioritized actions to achieve emission targets.
To learn more about how to develop a Climate Action Plan check out:
Framework for implementing a municipal Climate Action Plan
If you are not already a Sustainable Jersey Community, consider becoming one! Sustainable Jersey is a nonprofit organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and encourage communities to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve environmental quality. If you are a Sustainable Jersey Community, learn how to reach Gold Star Standards.
With 42% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from transportation, alternative modes of transportation are key to mitigating climate change. Local governments should consider adopting a Complete Streets Policy to encourage walkable, bikeable and livable communities. Complete Streets can incorporate green street design elements to further reduce urban heat island effects and address climate related impacts to strengthen resiliency. Municipalities can take advantage of funding from the Transit Village Program, the Transportation Alternatives Program, the Pedestrian Safety, Enforcement and Education Fund, and the Safe Routes to School Program to transform their streets.
More Complete Streets and Green Streets Resources:
Local governments can support the transition to cleaner transportation by investing in green fleets and facilitating the spread of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Municipalities should consider adopting minimum fleet fuel efficiency targets and commit to purchasing alternative fuel vehicles. Towns should update ordinances to streamline electric vehicle charging infrastructure and adopt designs standards to facilitate consumer adoption. Check out the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Alternative Fuel Vehicle Readiness Guidebook for Municipalities to learn how you can take action today! Explore State and Federal incentives and learn what New Jersey is doing by visiting Drive Green New Jersey.
Encourage and provide incentives for the use of alternative energy in your community. Become a Solar Friendly town by adopting a supportive Solar Ordinance and through streamlining permitting and inspection. Explore generating your own renewable energy through a solar, wind or geothermal system. Learn how the Egg Harbor Township School District’s use of solar panels helped them reduce energy, cut emissions and save over $9 million dollars a year! If onsite renewable energy generation is not viable, consider buying electricity from a renewable source.
Recycling is the law in New Jersey, but going above and beyond compliance helps in the fight against climate change. On average, approximately 1.67 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalents are avoided for every ton of municipal solid waste recycled! Learn how the Borough of Fair Lawn achieved a recycling rate of 46% in 2015 by combining enforcement with extensive outreach efforts. Also, remember to promote backyard composting to your residents, check out the Sustainable Jersey Backyard Composting Program Action for more information.
Use the CHANJ tools to help make New Jersey’s landscape friendlier to wildlife movement. The online CHANJ Web Viewer maps key wildlife habitats and movement corridors across the state, and a companion Guidance Document helps users to make strategic choices about preserving land, restoring habitat, and mitigating the impacts of roads on wildlife.
Adopt an open space plan that incorporates climate change considerations, like vulnerable habitats and species, offsetting carbon emissions and resiliency goals. Consider assembling a new priority map for land conservation to preserve carbon sinks, provide buffers to sea level rise, reduce flooding, and to maintain habitat health and connectivity. Develop goals and plans to increase tree cover and native species throughout your community. Check out NJDEP’s Community Forestry Resources and the Institute for Local Government’s Open Space and Offsetting Carbon Emissions Resources for more information.
Stormwater infrastructure systems are getting frequent use, especially with increased storm events due to climate change. Managing them proactively can help the system run efficiently. Best practices include: establishing an asset management plan, utilizing asset management software systems for documentation and tracking and reviewing innovative options for managing stormwater infrastructure. Additional information and resources to help implement these best practices can be found on the Department’s Stormwater Infrastructure Toolkit webpage.
The majority of climate change impacts will affect the youngest members of our world and future generations. The children of today must become the change agents of tomorrow, and schools are the perfect venue to cultivate these transformative climate action leaders. Schools can teach how best to reduce our impacts on the environment, showing the next generation how to be environmental stewards. You can make a difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a student, educator or school administrator. Check out our suggestions below to learn how!
Learn about our changing climate and what you can do to help! Check out NASA’s Climate Kids Webpage, where you can explore the world, our environment and what you can do to protect it.
Talk to your parent/guardian and teachers about how you can act locally to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This may include encouraging your school to reduce and compost food waste, participate in community clean up events, or start a school vegetable or pollinator garden. Need ideas for what actions your school can take? Visit Sustainable Jersey for Schools to help get you started. Consider becoming a schoolyard steward. Learn about the stewardship projects that New Jersey middle and elementary school students carried out on their school properties and in their communities to reduce the impacts of flooding from storms, a weather condition influenced by climate change. There is no age limit for being a climate hero!
Inquire about your school’s energy usage and find out how your school measures up to other schools nationwide using Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager Tool. Your school may earn the ENERGY STAR if it qualifies as the top performer. And remember, even small energy choices add up. Turn off lights, TVs, and computers, when you do not need them to cut your energy usage. Unplug any electronic gadget you can turn on with a remote, such as TVs, DVD players, and gaming systems, all of which use power even when they are shut off.
Learn how your local and state government representatives are voting on climate actions, and let them know you care about the world they are leaving to you. There is currently a landmark U.S. federal climate lawsuit where youths now ages 10 to 21 argue that the federal government is violating their constitutional rights by failing to act on climate change. You are never too young to act.
Instead of asking for a ride, walk or ride your bike for short trips. Since its always more fun to walk together, consider organizing a “walking school bus” for your school. To learn how, visit www.walkingschoolbus.org.
Sanjana Kaloth won the 2017 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in Environmental Education for inspiring others to pick up litter in their communities and backyards. Picking up litter can prevent trash from entering storm drain systems which may drain into the ocean and effect marine life.
Get involved in your existing environmental club, or inquire about how you can start your own. Encourage your school to become certified as a Green School with Sustainable Jersey.
Find out about community clean ups, forest conservation efforts, and sustainability events in your area, post flyers and network with fellow students about participating in local environmental actions together.
Inquire about your school’s energy usage and find out how your school measures up to other schools nationwide using Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager Tool. Remember to turn off lights and electronics when not in use to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Your school may earn the ENERGY STAR if it qualifies as the top performer.
Explore six real world scenarios faced by New Jersey’s coastal municipalities that have community hazards due to being located near tidal wetlands. Tidal wetlands are often overlooked but can be invaluable for reducing flooding from coastal storms and sea level rise, both symptoms of climate change. Students are challenged to research and design their own solutions for these sites then compare their work with the actual work that was done at the sites by professionals. To learn more, go to Ecological Design Challenges.
The majority (42%) of New Jersey’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions come from transportation. Do your part to reduce emissions by purchasing electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles. Strive to carpool, use public transportation, walk or ride your bike before driving solo. Check out Drive Green New Jersey and EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide to learn more!
Morris Hills High School Environmental Club cleaning up their community
Find out about how you can participate in your school’s environmental club or inquire about how you can form one. Encourage your Fraternity or Sorority to direct is philanthropic endeavors towards green and environmentally friendly efforts.
Learn how to reduce energy usage in your dorm room, and even showcase your ENERGY STAR, energy efficient lighting, office equipment, and home electronics.
Did you know that up to 40% of all food produced in the U.S., intended for consumption is not eaten? That equates to about 20 pounds per person each month! Food that gets thrown away often ends up in landfills, where it releases methane as it rots, a greenhouse gas that is 28 to 36 times more potent than CO2 in causing global warming. So next time you add that extra piece of fruit or scoop of veggies to your plate, make sure you’re really going to eat it. One way you can help your school reduce the food waste it generates is to see if your food service professional or sustainability organization on campus is interested in running a food waste audit. They say you cannot change what you do not measure! Also, talk to your school about donating uneaten foods to local food banks and shelters rather than tossing it out. Finally, ask if your school would consider composting to reduce their contribution of food waste to landfills. There is much you can do to Save the Food.
Use My Campus Wall to post items you want to share (such as tools, reusable bags, and appliances), sell, or swap, and encourage others to post their items as well. You can also find a local thrift store in your area and organize a carpool with others who are interested in shopping second hand.
If you go shopping for groceries or supplies periodically, see if you can get a group together to ride share with. The more the merrier!
Encourage Presidents or Chancellors at your school to join the Second Nature Climate Leadership Network to solidify their commitment to setting and achieving climate action goals. Learn if your school is participating in the AASHE STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) program, which tracks and rates colleges and universities sustainability performance.
Include supplementary lesson plans about climate change and other related subjects using:
Remember to check out the New Jersey State Environmental Education Directory to learn about new teaching resources and to connect with the NJDEP AmeriCorp Watershed Ambassador program for free environmental education presentations.
Get involved in your school’s environmental club to provide an outlet and resources for students to get involved in climate change mitigation actions.
Encourage your school to get involved in Earth Day activities or help support existing Earth Day activities. Reference Earth Day Network’s educator resources for support and inspiration.
Make the pledge with the Second Nature Climate Leadership Network to solidify your commitment to setting and achieving climate action goals.
Schools that are not energy efficient can use up to three times as much energy as schools that take steps to improve their efficiency. School districts can save money by partnering with ENERGY STAR for K-12 School Districts and using the Portfolio Manager to track and rate their energy performance. Take advantage of the New Jersey Clean Energy Program’s free energy benchmarking service and other financial incentives for energy efficiency.
Develop an inventory of your school’s greenhouse gas emissions to identify where improvements can be made. For higher education institutions AASHE STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) can help you gauge your school’s sustainability and find out where and how your institution can improve. Consider becoming a certified Sustainable Jersey School.
Promote change in your school by creating a Climate Action Team and passing a climate action resolution.
Find out how you can improve your school’s energy efficiency!