Important School District Vote Alongside General Election + Open Space Ballot Measure

In just a couple of days, Tuesday Nov 4th, your opportunity to have your VOICE heard arrives - yes it is election time and you get to choose worthy leadership.  Politics can be a maze to navigate but the single most important responsibility you have as a citizen is to VOTE - if you don't, you forfeit your right to complain, anguish and have expectations of YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. Congressional Candidates

In addition to the NJ General Election where you will choose your state representatives, there are two Referendums / Ballot Measures you will be asked to weigh in on - 1) Dedicating State Funds for Open Space, Farmland, and Historic Preservation, which you will hopefully support, and 2) Allow a Court to Order Pretrial Detention

You can create a sample ballot for yourself and learn more about the candidates you will be presented with and the referendums you will be asked to vote on in the voting booth, by going to this website -  You can donate to their good work or simply visit the website and get informed.  If you don't know where in Jersey City you should go to vote, you can find out here -

Jersey City Board of Education (BOE)

In addition to the NJ General Election, we have a very IMPORTANT Local School Board of Education election taking place, in case you've missed the barrage of campaign snail mail, email and social media.  These candidates will also be presented to you to vote on; you can find out more information about them and the school district here -

While SJC is not endorsing specific candidates, there is an excellent explanation of some of the issues that have been bantered about in the media, which may help voters understand some of the more confusing aspects of what's happening in the district.  See the Civic Parent website here -

Personal Note On Our School District

I must share how encouraged I was when I participated in a Facilities Tour this past month.  There has been great progress in aligning building & environmental fixes / upgrades, with innovative education interventions that are turning the school district around.  For those of you who don't usually tune in to school district news, check out these links below and periodically tune in to their new website, which is filled with pride - for good reason.

And as the Sustainable Jersey For Schools statewide certification program launches, with our JC School District jumping in to participate (the current BOE supports this !!)  SJC looks forward to Jersey City becoming a more sustainable place to live and work AND go to school :-)

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Solar in Jersey City - Here and Now

The time is right for Solar in New Jersey, and in Jersey City we have a lot of opportunity.  Whether you are a condo owner, home owner, or have a small or large business, if you own a rooftop or parking lot with unobstructed sunlight, you have a money making machine.  Add to that the local jobs you create, and the environmental benefits...what's not to like? ShopRite JC Solar Roof

Cruise around Jersey City from above with Google Maps and you’ll see dozens of solar installations, from the 30 panels on my rooftop on Wayne Street to the giant installations atop Macy’s and ShopRite.  We can expand this to hundreds of installations and make a significant dent in the city’s Carbon Footprint, reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect, and create hundreds of local jobs in the process.

If you want to go solar, first make sure your roof is in good shape.  Panels last 30 years, and so will a good commercial roof.  A typical residential roof needs resurfacing every 15 years, so you’ll need to replace your roof once during that time, but why do it twice?  And consider combining with a green roof, which can last 50-100 years, provide much needed insulation, and reduce storm water overflow.

Second, decide whether you want to own the system, or simply rent your roof.  This second option, called a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement), lets a company install panels on your roof, and sell you the power at a specified price over the next 20 years.  You’ll generally save 20-30% on your electric bill now, and even more in the future.

On Tuesday, November 4th, 7pm at City Hall, we’ll have three presentations giving an overview of solar installation and financing, how community solar can accelerate installations in your neighborhood, and advocacy opportunities for legislation to encourage and streamline solar in Jersey City.  Event details:  SJC Eat Meet and Talk

There’s more information on Solar in our Resources page in the Energy section.

Don’t own a roof?  Don’t have time for advocacy?  Still want to lower your carbon footprint and support Clean, Renewable energy?  You can choose an Energy Supplier that uses Wind and Solar Farms to power your apartment and only pay a few extra dollars per month.  Track down your PSEG account number and you can make the switch online in just a few minutes.  Learn about the NJ Clean Power Choice program here:  Clean Energy Providers.


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A Sustainable Network of Community Gardens in Jersey City

Sustainable JC is launching a new project, under the generous and collaborative umbrella of the Good Food Now! initiative, involving Jersey City's community gardens. A first step encourages existing community garden stewards to create a free account on Farming Concrete and use their BARN tool for logging garden data. Most of the city's community gardens are already listed - check it out. The use of the tool was made possible through Sustainable JC's relationship with Farming Concrete, developers of the tool, which is being deployed primarily in New York, through the Design Trust's Five Boro Farms project. Sustainable JC is initiating the use of this tool in New Jersey through the Jersey City pilot.

This is what the current distribution of community gardens look like, after listing them on Farming Concrete - not bad but we need more of them !


Why is it important to monitor and keep accurate track of community garden parameters? Just like in any successful enterprise, measurable indicators make it much easier to manage and improve the gardens' efficiency and impact, increasing their benefits to the community. We all know that there are not nearly enough community gardens in Jersey City, helping to address affordable community access to fresh and healty food for all ("food security"). Thus, it becomes increasingly important to sustainably MAXIMIZE the benefits of the existing ones.
A more detailed explanation of why community garden data collection is important can be found here and by watching the following video:


One of the goals of SJC's Good Food Now! inititiative is to connect a comprehensive community garden network for Jersey City, initiate exchanges (know-how, seeds, success stories etc.) and hopefully make available a "quantitative platform" compelling enough to attract funding to support a city-wide community garden / sustainable landscape design improvement project.  The team working on this aims to provide technical assistance to gardeners to help maximize productivity and sustainability of garden sites, while mitigating and reducing urban contamination. A website for this aspect of the project is currently under construction.
To participate in this project, please follow these steps:
  • STEP ONE: Use the form provided below to contact the project coordinator with the name and location of your community garden, to make sure your garden is listed. A rough estimation of the area surface of the garden would be greatly appreciated, along with a description of the physical limits of the garden.
  • STEP TWO: Go to and register for a user account. Do not worry about the Five Borough reference, Jersey City has its own community garden circle already setup inside the tool.
If you have any questions about this project or the online tool, please feel free to contact the project leader using the form provided below.
[contact-form to='' subject='Farming Concret'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]


Sustainable community gardens can integrate no / low cost solutions like rainwater collection for irrigation and composting for enriching and treating the soil. This project is connected to two other SJC Projects: 1) Green Infrastructure / Rain Gardens +ART Campaign / Rain Barrels and 2) Community Composting. We are avid supporters of Bokashi, a fermentation approach to food waste recycling, which provides multiple benefits for urban landscapes and which can be a stand alone approach or be integrated into traditional backyard and community garden composting systems
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Totally Solar Powered Community in Annandale NJ

Richard Meurer believes that the United States should end our dependence on foreign oil. In a solar powered community in Annandale, NJ, he's done just that.  Everything, even HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), is powered by a 322kW solar farm right on the property. Renters benefit from well insulated homes with high efficiency electric heating and cooling, and 10% discount from the utility electric rate. Annandale Solar Farm - ground view

The public ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 5-7 p.m. at the Village Green at Annandale, and includes a random drawing for a residential solar package.  In the press release, Meurer reports that the residential units are more than 50% occupied.

The development also includes retail and commercial units, and is walking distance from a NJ Transit stop on the Raritan Valley line, which makes this the kind of walkable neighborhood with public transit that we see happening more and more in Jersey City.

Meurer, in addition to owning Meurer Development, also founded Green Power Energy, a solar firm that handles residential, commercial and solar farm installations.  Their installations span New Jersey, right down to the Jersey Shore, where he built zero utility units that run on a combination of geothermal heat pumps and rooftop solar.

When asked if renters in Annandale are receptive to energy efficiency and solar power, Meurer says, "I was surprised, the younger generation really believes in renewable energy.  Everyone is excited about it."  But at times it can be a struggle:  some buyers of his Jersey Shore homes listened to his explanation of the utility savings of his properties compared to others in the neighborhood.   Even though the purchase price was the same, they remarked, "Can I get one built the regular way?".

The Annandale site was an old lumbermill.  Meurer reduced the energy cost of construction by reusing foundations and building materials.  By owning both the development firm, and the solar farm, he was able to take advantage of federal investment incentives and keep his total construction costs level with standard construction, but the long term savings are enormous.  This is another example of real estate development that both greatly reduces ecological impact and makes a profit.

Can we do this in Jersey City?  Open land is scarce, but rooftops and parking lots aren't.  Wall mounted panels and solar windows for high rises are a little more cutting edge but already financially viable.  Higher density development makes being 100% solar a challenge, but every watt generated by solar means one less watt needed from nuclear or fossil fuels.  Advances and price cuts in insulation, HVAC systems, solar electric and solar hot water have made solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency both possible and profitable, with just one caveat:  buyers and renters need to include utility costs in their decision making.

Like Rich Meurer, we all have the power to take our beliefs and make them real through big plans or small daily choices.  There are plenty of solar success stories in Jersey City already, and more being planned:  from single homes, to big box retail, to community collaborations in Eco-Districts.  Tell us your story in the comments below.

For further reading:

And keep checking our Resources page in the Energy section.

Annandale Solar Farm - aerial view


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Spotlight on East Coast Greenway Cleanup

Great news for JC bicyclists and pedestrians – the section of the East Coast Greenway connecting Jersey City and Newark is now clear of trash, weeds, and other debris thanks to the work of NJDOT! Local citizens and advocacy groups successfully brought attention to the neglected path along Truck Rt 1&9 a few weeks ago, even earning some air time on NJTV. As you can see, the path had become nearly impassable with overgrown weeds and garbage.

Photo Credit: Tony Borelli, Bike JC

After some attention from NJDOT, it’s now smooth sailing on the approach to the Hackensack River Bridge. With beautiful fall weather just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to check out this newly spruced up path.

Photo Credit: Tony Borelli, Bike JC

We at SJC think this path is a really great first step towards improving and greening the gateway to Jersey City. Imagine if the next iteration of this trail was capable of collecting stormwater runoff from the highway? A rain garden strip like the one pictured below would help filter pollutants and beautify the path, adding some much-needed green space to Jersey City!

Rain garden strip built in Nashville as part of a Complete Streets project. Photo Credit:

In the meantime, go ahead and take a jog or bike ride across the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers along the East Coast Greenway. The path is accessible from the west side of Lincoln Park. Just take the loop until you reach the track field, where you’ll see a small bridge with a marked bike lane. You’ll cross over this and find your way onto some trails that will lead you to the entrance. It can get a little confusing, but don’t give up!

Now take a right and continue on as far as you’d like. Be aware that there are a few dicey crossings and sections if going all the way to Newark, but if you’re alert and prepared, you’ll make it just fine. For a map of this route and the rest of the ECG (which stretches all the way from Florida to Maine!), check out their website:

As a new project leader with SJC, I'm excited to start working with you to improve Jersey City. To learn more about what SJC is doing around Green Infrastructure in Jersey City, visit our Project page, and get involved by filling out our Volunteer Welcome Survey. After you fill out the survey, send a quick email to with Lyndsey-GI in the subject line.

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