The fifth week of my summer internship at Sustainable Princeton began with signing up for the 2017 New Jersey Sustainability Summit by Sustainable Jersey and figuring out which two breakout sessions I would attend. Before attending any of the breakout sessions there was an interesting presentation for all attendees on something called the State of the State report. This report goes over where New Jersey is with regards to sustainability and how New Jersey has improved or worsened in terms of each aspect of sustainability.
Out of the six sessions available in the morning I chose to attend the one called “Protecting our Natural Resources: Local Action, Regional Impact.” This breakout session was about how local efforts are critical to guaranteeing the protection of natural resources and what one can do to help. For example, a presenter from Jersey Water Works discussed how to plan out and develop green infrastructure on the local level to minimize storm water runoff via impermeable surfaces. Another example was the presentation by a member of Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) on the value of setting aside open spaces within towns so that there are habitats for animals like bees, birds, and butterflies to name a few. Overall this breakout session was a great experience for me as I not only learned a lot about open spaces and green infrastructure but I learned about the procedures for gathering support for such things and planning out their implementation.
Out of the six sessions available in the afternoon I chose to attend the one called “Shining the Light on Solar.” This break out session was all about solar energy and how to both promote and implement solar energy within your local community. This session discussed what steps your community could take to become a nationally designated SolSmart community. SolSmart is a national designation program funded by the United States Department of Energy’s Sun Shot initiative that helps members of communities applying for designation to reduce the soft costs of solar panel installation such as the installation itself, local government administrative and bureaucratic application processes and so on. They do this by assigning a member of the Solar Foundation to the community so that they can get six months of technical assistance to help local governments reduce the soft costs of solar installation on their side by streamlining and simplifying the local laws with regards to solar energy. This breakout session was very informative not only in terms what steps one can take to simplify the local laws to make it cheaper and easier to install solar panels safely but it also taught me about the ways in which you can convince a local community to get involved in an initiative such as this.
All in all, I would say this was quite the eventful week and I am excited to see what next week will bring!