In New Jersey, Conserving at a Ground Level

October 11, 2009

In New Jersey, Conserving at Ground Level

By Charanna Alexander

When it rains in Hopewell, New Jersey, the water does not puddle on the pavement. It sinks right through a porous material, preventing runoff and recharging the water supply.

Innovative pavement is just one way that Hopewell, a rural upper-middle-class town of 6,200 in the center of the state, has become more environmentally aware. In 2007, Hopewell, with the assistance of the Rutgers Center for Green Building and a grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, redesigned its land-use ordinances and adopted other beneficial rules.

"They worked with us on creating a package for land-use criteria, like recycling, building design, pedestrian circulation, bike ways and pedestrian ways, " Paul Pogorzelski, Hopewell's administrator and engineer, said of the center. "It's a big deal to change our land-use ordinances."

Many other towns in the state have become more environmentally friendly. Since March, 227 of New Jersey's 566 municipalities have taken part in the Sustainable Jersey program, which teaches local leaders how to "go green," said Matthew Weng at the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

Hopewell has also installed solar panels on its public works building and hopes to do so on more public structures, and it is planning to purchase alternative-fuel vehicles. And, Mr. Pogorzelski said, "We have done energy audits on all our public buildings, where we evaluate how we can use less energy."

"We want to be sustainable, that's the bottom line," he said. "This is a forever commitment and we are very fortunate to have green-minded residents here."