Top NJ Towns Recognized with Annual Sustainable Jersey Awards

on Mar 11, 2021

Sustainable Jersey is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 municipal annual awards, which celebrate sustainability excellence, innovation and leadership. Sustainable Jersey will stream the event live on its Facebook page (@SustainableJersey) from 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm, today.

The 2020 Sustainability Champion award recipients are
(descriptions at the end of the release):

  • SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION (Large Category) with 1,240 points:
    Woodbridge Township (Middlesex County)
  • SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION (Medium Category) with 825 points:
    Madison Borough (Morris County)
  • SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION (Small Category) with 415 points:
    Island Heights Borough (Ocean County)

The 2020 Sustainable Jersey special award recipients are
(descriptions at the end of the release):

    Anthony Talerico, Jr., Mayor, Eatontown Borough (Monmouth County)
    Merchantville Borough (Camden County)
    Town of Westfield
    (Union County)
    Tri-County Sustainability’s Towns Helping Towns Committee
    (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester Counties)

At a time when communities are struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, celebrating the work of outstanding municipalities and individuals is paramount for our community. The municipalities that are receiving Sustainable Jersey’s highest recognition awards have set a new bar and aspirational example for other communities to meet as they pursue sustainability goals,” said Randall Solomon, executive director of Sustainable Jersey. “I’d like to congratulate the award winners and thank these towns for innovating and growing with Sustainable Jersey!” The 2020 Sustainable Jersey Virtual Awards Luncheon Program Book highlights the December 2019 and 2020 Sustainable Jersey certified municipalities and special award recipients.


The Sustainability Champion award recognizes municipalities that have scored the most points in the Sustainable Jersey certification program in three population categories: large (over 40,000), medium (5,000 to 40,000) and small (under 5,000).

Sustainability Champion Large Category: Woodbridge Township (Middlesex County) with 1,240 points. This is the eleventh time that Woodbridge Township has achieved this honor since the awards began in 2009; the Township received the award from 2009-2013 and 2015-2020. 

Woodbridge Township is pleased to once again accept the prestigious Sustainable Jersey silver-level recertification and Sustainability Champion Award for large-size municipalities for the eleventh year. Sustainable Jersey serves as a benchmark for our sustainable initiatives, while providing the Township with additional resources as we continue to lead the state in sustainable and green initiatives. In the quest for our eleventh Champion Award, Woodbridge Township competed against 457 participating municipalities, including 219 Sustainable Jersey certified municipalities and 64 silver-level certified towns in the Sustainable Jersey competition, earning sustainable points with 112 actions in 18 separate categories – scoring a record 1,240 points which surpassed our 2019 score by 50 points. And throughout, Greenable Woodbridge continued to advance many more sustainable initiatives and programs that serve to better manage the ways we use energy and other natural resources at work and home. The Sustainable Jersey program is an important vehicle by which our Township will continue to move into the future as a sustainable and environmentally-conscious community.” – John E. McCormac, Mayor, Woodbridge Township, Middlesex County

Sustainability Champion Medium Category: Madison Borough (Morris County) with 825 points. This is the second time that Madison Borough has achieved this honor since the awards began in 2009; Madison received the award in 2013 and 2020.

"Rolling blackouts, frequent major storms, melting ice caps; every day we are reminded of the need to address climate change and to commit to a sustainable future. We can and must do our share to preserve our future. I am so proud of our Sustainable Madison committee for their work on securing this award and certification but more importantly proud of our residents, the Borough Council and employees, committing to a sustainable future for Madison and New Jersey." – Robert H. Conley, Mayor, Madison Borough, Morris County

Sustainability Champion Small Category: Island Heights Borough (Ocean County) with 415 points. This is the first time Island Heights Borough has achieved this honor.

"Our Island Heights Green Team has inspired positive change in our community and educated our residents on the value of recycling and repurposing so many of our resources. Thanks to their work, our community continues to excel in reducing waste going to our landfills and in preserving our beautiful public spaces for the generations to come." – E. Steven Doyle, Mayor, Island Heights Borough, Ocean County 

2020 Mayor Ondish Leadership Award: Anthony Talerico, Jr., Mayor, Eatontown Borough (Monmouth County). This award recognizes the leader of a Sustainable Jersey certified community who has provided ideas, policy support and resources to enable the green team to achieve success at the local level and contribute to the statewide movement. Since Anthony Talerico, Jr. was elected mayor in 2019, Eatontown was the first municipality to pass an ordinance using the Complete and Green Streets for All model policy. Mayor Talerico, Jr. is actively involved in making Eatontown’s roads safe for all users - drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and those with disabilities, and improving the connectivity in its existing neighborhoods. Reaching beyond his borders, Mayor Talerico, Jr. hosted a meeting with ten other municipalities in Monmouth County to discuss the opportunity to group purchase energy for residents with significantly higher renewable energy content than what is required by New Jersey. This initial effort has materialized into the Monmouth Renewable Government Energy Aggregation Collaborative, with eight communities participating.

“Eatontown does great things because of our dedicated employees and volunteers. The area of sustainability is no exception. I am grateful for the recognition of the Mayor Art Ondish Leadership Award and look forward to being a part of new initiatives that better our town and the region. Thank you, Sustainable Jersey, for recognizing Eatontown’s efforts.” – Anthony Talerico, Jr., Mayor, Borough of Eatontown, Monmouth County

2020 Creativity and Innovation Award: Merchantville Borough (Camden County). This award recognizes forward-thinking municipalities that support a culture of creativity and innovation as they implement new approaches to solving problems.

Merchantville is recognized for the program: Incredible Edible Merchantville. Motivated by climate change and a TED Talk on "How We Can Eat Our Landscapes," two residents realized that securing future sustainability in Merchantville would require innovative community efforts. In July 2018, their proposal for Incredible Edible Merchantville was approved by the Borough Council under the municipal green team with the goals of promoting sustainable living, food justice and environmental education to encourage healthy communities. Since then, participants have been working to create food forests in public and private spaces to grow local food and support the local food economy.

Three years ago, a group of inspired residents adopted a mission of connecting our community by promoting sustainable living, food justice and good health through the creation of edible landscapes across our small borough. Though their work has just begun, they have already developed a vibrant outreach program with more than 30 registered gardens and donating over 200 pounds of fresh produce this summer to supplement local food pantry demands brought on by the pandemic. Incredible Edible Merchantville envisions a town filled with accessible, edible landscapes and I look forward to supporting their work, as an integral part of our town's overall sustainability strategy.”

2020 Rookie of the Year Award: Town of Westfield (Union County). This award recognizes a newly certified municipality that effectively leveraged a wide range of resources to achieve success. The Town of Westfield is receiving this award for their perseverance as they remained committed to achieving certification. The Town of Westfield was certified at the silver-level this year with 360 points.

"The Town of Westfield is extremely proud of the extensive efforts of the Westfield Green Team and I am thrilled to see their commitment rewarded with silver certification -- a first in our town's history. Our residents benefit greatly from this team's ongoing dedication as we all work toward our goal of a more sustainable community.” – Shelley Brindle, Mayor, Town of Westfield, Union County

2020 Collaboration Award: Tri-County Sustainability’s Towns Helping Towns Committee (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester Counties). This award recognizes green teams that have advanced sustainability by building strong partnerships. Tri-County Sustainability’s proactive efforts to support engagement with the Sustainable Jersey program as well as providing direct assistance to municipalities working on certification in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties is a great example of advancing sustainability through strong partnerships.<

"Tri-County Sustainability is a regional Sustainable Jersey hub that is focused on mentoring our neighboring towns. We save them time, energy, money and explore new opportunities to promote sustainability in the over one-hundred towns located in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. We developed the Tri-County Sustainability Resource Guide to support local sustainability programs.  Using the guide, ten towns have been newly certified in 2019 and 2020."– David Steinberg, Chair, Tri-County Sustainability's Towns Helping Towns Committee

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