Thursday, April 29, 2010

Experiential: The NJHEPS Sustainability Summit

By Jon Lindenauer

Held March 26th in the Ramapo College’s Ansfield School of Business, the NJHEPS Sustainability Summit saw a number of important working and student minds come together for a better understanding of New Jersey sustainability events, organizations, offices and information. Including student and faculty representatives from Richard Stockton College, Montclair State University, Kean University and (of course) Ramapo College amongst others, the event gave many individuals an opportunity to share ideas, backgrounds and goals regarding the past, present and future of sustainability in New Jersey.

The first speaker of the NJHEPS Summit (which stands for New Jersey Education Partnership for Sustainability) focused her presentation mainly on New Jersey homes and micro-sustainability initiatives. A representative of the NJ Department of Energy, she discussed a home insulation and power reconfiguration program called Energy Star, in which individuals have their homes assessed and altered to save money on heat and energy expenses. In conjunction with this program, Energy Star also certifies certain household appliances, providing tax incentives for individuals who own these appliances.

Moreover, Energy Star assesses homes on a three tiered system. The first level is 85 HERS (Home Energy Rating System) and the requirement for new homes built in the state of New Jersey. The second tier is 65 HERS, in which homeowners receive tax incentives for low power consumption. The third level is 50 HERS or less, which – if renewable energy is taken into consideration – accounts for individuals with extremely low or possibility self-sustainability power consumption (0 HERS); the ultimate goal of the system.

Beyond Energy Star and the Department of Energy, another important point discussed was New Jersey’s macro-sustainable energy initiatives. Currently, New Jersey is ranked only behind California as far as leading in sustainable energy (a rating of 530 to 125). Along with this, a program called the “Clean Power Choice” was brought up, a program in which individuals request renewable energy through their local utilities. These and many more topics were deliberated, even discussing sustainability at the campus level, with Ramapo College’s sustainability report card being shown to the audience.

Even from the perspective of someone who has no membership or association with a sustainability organization, the NJHEPS Summit provided more than its share of important and useful information regarding New Jersey sustainability issues. Information that will certainly not be lost on its eager spectators, who already began to set the gears of networking and idea-exchange in motion well before the summit ended.

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