Its cutting-edge participation in a number of “green” programs has earned Somerset County an Environmental Stewardship Certificate from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
“We’re honored to receive this recognition from the DEP,” said Freeholder Director Peter S. Palmer. “Somerset County has long been a leader in ‘green’ buildings, solar projects and other programs aimed at reducing our carbon footprint.”
The county was lauded for providing outreach programs offering information and assistance to address environmental issues in the community; for implementing “green” building design within its own facilities; for various operational changes leading to reduced energy consumption; and for a countywide initiative that has placed solar panels on dozens of county, municipal and school buildings.
- The Board of Freeholders established the Somerset County Energy Council in 2009 to advocate for energy efficiency and conservation, promote public understanding of energy-savings opportunities and choices and recommend alternative energy and other sustainability initiatives.
- The county Planning Board has sponsored numerous topic-specific events and programs, including several energy forums, urging residents to minimize their carbon footprint. The county Park Commission hosts an annual “Eco-Rally” at the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge that draws more than 1,000 participants a year.
- The conversion of county traffic lights to LEDs, traffic signal optimization, the installation of a co-generation power plant at Raritan Valley Community College and the purchase of four special fuel-efficient and reduced-emissions recycling trucks were recognized by NJDEP as outstanding energy-conservation initiatives. The recycling trucks take more particles of soot out of the air than they emit, and also get two miles more per gallon of diesel fuel.
- The countywide renewable-energy initiative provided funding through the Somerset County Improvement Authority in 2010 and 2011 for the installation of solar panels on more than 60 municipal, school and county facilities, which as a result will cut their electrical power usage by about 26 percent.