ENVIRONMENT

Experts discover innovative ways to reduce state’s carbon footprint

BY Briana Vannozzi, Correspondent |

At 271 years young, Princeton University is New Jersey’s oldest college, so it probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of cutting-edge infrastructure. But, the campus is actually leading the state with its comprehensive clean energy programs and design.

The college upgraded the heating and cooling system, replaced lighting and improved its aging building stock. A sign that the more than $3 billion New Jersey poured into energy savings projects across the state is working.

Bill Broadhurst is the manager of campus energy at Princeton.

“There is something like 49 colleges and universities in New Jersey and us, as Princeton, we’re probably one of the largest energy users in the state,” he said. “So, if we don’t help New Jersey clean up the grid and conserve energy the state, it’ll be limited in what the state can do with its own goals,” said Broadhurst.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, known as the BPU, holds a clean energy program conference every year to highlight some of the industry leaders and initiatives making an impact. The topic itself may not sound alluring, but the program is becoming more and more critical. The board’s commissioner, Joseph Fiordaliso, says climate is playing a larger role.

“We see there are a lot of erratic weather changes occurring and the waters are warmer, which creates energy and that energy fuels storms. And those storms are more erratic and destructive, as we’ve seen in Houston and Florida,” he said.

According to Fiordaliso, the state’s clean energy program has one main goal: reducing the overall carbon footprint and energy consumption to mitigate climate effects. In the last 15 years, he says the BPU has reduced energy consumption in the state by seven percent.

“Now that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have a state of nine million people, you reduce energy by seven percent, you’re reducing energy considerably,” said Fiordaliso.

That’s enough to power more than three million homes. In 2000, the state had just six solar installations. Today there are over 75,000.

So what does New Jersey’s clean energy program mean for its residents? According to the BPU, the state has less pollution, a stronger economy, lower energy costs and reduced demand for energy.

Ed Hutchinson is the president of mechanical heating and cooling energy company Hutchinson Services based in South Jersey.

“People in general and businesses in general are busy living their lives and building their businesses and this is not at the top of their minds,” he said.

This is the reason why Hutchinson’s company does outreach to make people aware of state incentives to help upgrade their homes and businesses. Hutchinson Services was also recognized by the BPU Tuesday.

“They’re able to replace their outdated HVAC systems and insulate houses and receive a utility rebate for what they paid so it helps them fiscally,” said Hutchinson.

Changing one light bulb in your home may not feel like you’re making a dent in the energy crisis, but the state wants you to know it’s cumulative. It’s lots of people changing out lots of light bulbs that makes the difference.