Program Updates

On a continuous basis, through the help of the Task Forces, the Certification Standards Committee reviews Sustainable Jersey program content, standards, and feedback to ensure actions are relevant, appropriate and up-to-date with current trends, information and expertise.  Sustainable Jersey announces new program and action updates every year at the annual New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference.  New actions and action updates are typically implemented in January.


NEW! Gold Star Standards in Health and Water

In July 2021 the new Gold Star Standard in Health was released identifying specific actions and levels of performance for municipalities to demonstrate how they have effectively incorporated health in municipal decision-making and addressed certain social and environmental determinants of health within their communities. Learn more about the standard here. Learn more about the new and updated actions part of Health Gold here.

In May 2021 the Gold Star Standard in Water - a new action-based approach to improving water quality, quantity was released. Learn more.


2021 Retired Actions

Institute Complete Streets: Implementation aspects of this action are now found in the updated Complete and Green Streets for All Policy (formerly known as Adopt a Complete Streets Policy action).  Points for completion of a bicycle or pedestrian road improvement will be awarded in the Bicycle and/or Pedestrian Improvement Projects action.



2021 New & Updated Actions Released with Gold Star Standard in Health (July 2021)

As part of the launch of the Gold Star Standard in Health, nine new actions were introduced and the Lead Education & Outreach action was updated. Please see below for additional details and click on the name of the action to learn more.

New Actions



The Food Production sub-category was renamed to Food Security, and these two new actions were added to this sub-category:


Health & Wellness


The following actions were added:

A new Lead & Healthy Homes sub-category was created. The Private Well Outreach and Testing and Removing Lead in Drinking Water actions were moved to this sub-category and the following new actions were added:

Action Updates

Diversity & Equity


Lead Education & Outreach Programs: 5 to 15 Points
This action awards points to municipalities for implementing outreach and education programs to prevent lead poisoning by informing the community about sources and solutions to lead contamination pathways prevalent in the community. It also includes more detailed guidance and resources, and it was changed to a variable point action awarding 5, 10 or 15 points based on the documentation provided.



2021 New Actions

Land Use & Transportation

Bicycle and/or Pedestrian Improvement Projects: 10 to 25 Points
This new action has two tiers to award points to municipalities that have made changes in their road infrastructure to improve conditions for bicyclist and /or pedestrians. The first tier is for short-term improvements and the second is for permanent projects. The action is a way for municipalities to earn points for making changes that create a safer and more appealing walking and/or bicycling environment. Consideration will be given to a range of projects from short-term projects like ciclovias (limited time car-free streets) or tactical urbanism projects that use pop-up bike lanes to more permanent projects like streetscape improvements in the central business district or the or the installation of a greenway trail; or a bike route. There are additional points for municipalities that identify their Priority Communities (using an approach outlined in the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Complete and Green Streets for All, Model Complete Streets Policy & Guide and address a need or locate an improvement project in a Priority Community.

Complete and Green Streets for All Policy: 10 to 30 Points
This action replaces the Adopt a Complete Streets Policy and now retired Institute Complete Streets actions.  The new action adopts the language of a New Jersey Department of Transportation model Complete and Green Streets for All policy and sharpens the focus on implementing Complete Streets policies.  The model policy incorporates Green Streets, an approach that uses green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff.  The model policy also prioritizes health, and strives to include equity and fairness in transportation project selection and expenditures. The action includes guidance for either adopting the policy through a resolution or adopting the policy as an ordinance. Municipalities are eligible to earn up to 30 points depending on the content of the policy and if it was adopted by resolution or ordinance.

Natural Resources

Municipal Water Story: 20 to 25 Points
This action guides a municipality to a process to identify and prioritize their local water challenges through the development of a "water story". To do this a municipality will undertake a data collection process to create a narrative that describes drinking water, wastewater and stormwater, and the role it plays in defining and shaping the local environment. This explanation of how water is used as well as how it moves into, through and out of your community will be further explored with the wider community through public engagement events. Through participation, the local water challenges will be prioritized to highlight the municipal direction in order to resolve water issues.

The Municipal Water Story is an entry point and required prerequisite action for all communities pursuing the Gold Star Standard in Water (Water Gold - Coming Soon!). Municipalities interested in earning the Gold Star in Water will need to complete for 5 additional points a Navigational Path. Using the Navigational Path template, the municipality will identify at least two additional actions and any further steps it will undertake to address the highly-ranked water issues identified in the process of completing the Municipal Water Story.



2021 Action Updates

Community Partnership & Outreach

Hold a Green Fair: 10 Points
Virtual green fairs are eligible for points in 2021 certification application submissions. The virtual green fair must be a minimum of five different but related initiatives spread out over a period of time. Initiatives could consist of any combination of the following virtual activities: presentations, discussions, exhibits, vendor meet and greets, etc., and allow for interaction among participants. All of the initiatives must follow the theme of and be promoted as the virtual green fair. Any educational sessions/presentations submitted as part of the virtual green fair will not be eligible for points in other Sustainable Jersey actions, including the Community Education & Outreach action. If a film screening is held as part of the virtual green fair, it also will not be eligible for points in other actions, including the Community Education & Outreach action.

Land Use & Transportation

Enhanced Stormwater Management Control Ordinance: 5 to 35 Points
This action awards points to municipalities for the adoption of an Enhanced Stormwater Management Control Ordinance that goes beyond the NJDEP model minimum ordinance requirements. This action was updated to be consistent with the March 2, 2020, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) amendments to the state’s stormwater management rules (NJAC 7:8). The Enhanced Stormwater Management Control Ordinance includes provisions to assist municipalities in managing stormwater more effectively to improve water quality and reduce local flood risks. This action links to two sources for enhanced model stormwater management control ordinances, one developed by the Watershed Institute and the other developed by New Jersey Future. Municipalities can use the guidance provided in this action on how to select enhancements from either or both of these model stormwater management control ordinances developed by New Jersey Future and the Watershed Institute.

Please note: In response to Governor Murphy’s climate change goals outlined in Executive Order 100 - NJ-Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJ-PACT), NJDEP anticipates further amendments to the stormwater management rules (NJAC 7.8) in 2021. Some of the ordinance enhancements suggested in this action are expected to address future regulatory amendments.

Natural Resources

Open Space Plan: 10 Points
Updates include links to new resources and guidance to assist in the development of an Open Space Plan. The action update also clarified what needs to be submitted to earn points for this action and how it fits into the Gold Star Standard in Water - Coming Soon!

Water Conservation Education Program: 10 Points
Updates include guidance on required activities, new resources to use in undertaking the action and a new submission worksheet to use in documenting action completion.


Previous Program Updates

View Sustainable Jersey's Previous Program Updates to learn more about the modifications made from 2009-2020.