POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Jersey City launches green business program

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

The 2016 Super Bowl, or Super Bowl 50, was not just a big deal to the victorious Broncos, but to Princetel of Hamilton Township, it made some of the fiber optic cables for the big game. That’s a selling point for the state Department of Environmental Protection, or NJDEP, because, as it said at a summit in Jersey City, Princetel is a founding member of the New Jersey Business Sustainability Registry.

“They’re doing something really innovative, really different and they also have this great sustainability ethic. And they have found through the course of their business that it has really allowed them to grow and become a million-dollar business in a relatively short amount of time,” said Helaine Barr, a research scientist at the Division of Energy Security and Sustainability of the NJDEP.

The state laid out how, through the registry, businesses can get certified in practicing sustainability or going green.

“What we really want to see is, you have, at a minimum, five sustainable practices that your business has implemented. Additionally, we would like one of those practices to have a measurable benefit,” said Barr.

An example of a benefit is how much water a business has saved in a year. The state says the bar is not that high for reaching sustainability.

“What we want, our ultimate goal, is to let people know that they can actually do something about this. Sustainability is not this amorphous subject that is so all-encompassing that they can’t bring it down to their level,” said Athena Sarafides, supervisor for the Bureau of Energy and Sustainability at the NJDEP.

Michael Mastropasqua, of the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, gave out fliers detailing how businesses and homeowners can take advantage of and get rebates for programs they already pay for, from upgrading businesses to homeowners getting rid of energy inefficient appliances.

“We’ll actually pay you to come pick it up and recycle it. Only caveat is, it has to still work and we have to pick it up in your house, and we have to confirm that. It can’t be completely dead,” said Mastropasqua.

Jersey City just launched its Green Business Certification Program. Kanibal & Company is among the ten early businesses to register through the program’s website, which is indicated by a green sticker in the window.

“With us, you basically just need to note what practices you’re doing, and then you have to sign a pledge that you are trying to be a sustainable business,” said Kate Lawrence, director of Office of Sustainability in Jersey City.

Jersey City says it launched its sustainability program because it wants to help businesses become sustainable and it wants to show them just how easy it is.

“It’s not that hard,” said Lawrence.

“I loved it. I loved it. I thought it was very informative,” said Susan Williamson, owner of Talfreyja.

Williamson attended the summit to learn more about sustainability in New Jersey. She just moved from Washington D.C. and is starting a company that would connect developers and businesses to the city’s and state’s sustainability incentives.

“Some of these things, they’re not ignored necessarily, but they’re not thought of,” Williamson said.

Jersey City and the NJDEP say that’s why they host the summits, to share how going green is saving some businesses a lot of green.

“They saved almost $4 million,” noted Barr.