The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Montclair Township a $75,000 grant to help residents, schools, businesses and municipal operations reduce their energy usage, utility bill costs, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Montclair’s award is part of a half million dollar Climate Showcase Communities grant which will launch the “NJ Sustainable Energy Efficiency Demonstration (NJ SEED)” – a partnership that includes Cherry Hill, Highland Park, the Office of Clean Energy at the NJ Board of Public Utilities, and the Municipal Land Use Center at the College of New Jersey.
The prestigious Climate Showcase Communities program is a $10 million competitive grant, for which 450 cities and towns nationwide applied; only 25 municipalities were selected. The award was announced Tuesday, March 31 at a press conference in Cherry Hill. In attendance were Montclair Mayor Jerry Fried, EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck, elected officials from Cherry Hill and Highland Park, and representatives from the partner organizations.
“As a New Jersey Clean Energy Leader and one of the charter Sustainable Jersey communities, Montclair is honored to be recognized once again as a true advocate of protecting the environment,” said Mayor Fried. "The grant will allow us to introduce a number of measures that will help reduce energy use and save money for our residents, small businesses, and our local government.”
“Climate change is one of the most serious economic and environmental problems facing our nation,” said EPA’s Enck. “Actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and move toward a more sustainable, clean energy future begin in our communities. The NJ SEED Program is part of a national showcase of community actions to address global warming,” he said.
The three partner communities have already demonstrated leadership in the area of sustainability, and are good candidates to showcase green initiatives in municipalities of similar sizes, ranging from 16,000 (Highland Park) to 37,000 (Montclair) to 75,000 (Cherry Hill) residents.
The grant awards will allow the towns to demonstrate how significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are made possible in small- and medium-sized municipalities. Their efforts may include enrolling community members and local businesses in state and federal energy-efficiency financial incentive programs, making efficiency retrofits to municipal buildings, updating local building codes and policies, and using more energy-efficient vehicles in municipal fleets.
Environmental Coordinator Gray Russell will administrate the grant in Montclair. A grant project team will set aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets and publicly report on the community’s progress. After one year, the project team will assess its efforts.
Data gathered from project partners will help identify enhancements that may be required to improve the program. Finally, the project partners will share lessons on the program through state-wide workshop and regional workshops. The work will be integrated into Sustainable Jersey certification, – a voluntary program for municipalities that want to adopt sustainable policies and achieve cost savings.
Climate Showcase Communities grants are designed to assist local and tribal governments to identify, implement, and track policies and programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their operations and surrounding communities. Over the course of the grant program, the EPA will offer training and technical support to grant recipients, and share lessons learned with communities across the nation.
A list of the Climate Showcase Communities and profiles of each recipient is available at: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/local/showcase.