Earlier New Jersey Green Economy Reports/Articles/Letters

There have been earlier reports on a green economy for New Jersey, although they didn’t usually use that description. Readers might benefit from summaries from some of these, which are shown below.

Co-authors chose some excerpts from these in the body of this Paper, but these sources have more insights which could be studied and potentially utilized.

Strategic Thinking: New Jersey’s Garden-Variety Environmentalism

This article explains how there should be a push towards green economic development. In other words, businesses should start to become greener and the article lists several ways they could do so. It talks about how some of the leading sustainable business speakers come to New Jersey, but there’s not much gain from it. It also mentions how there are lectures at different colleges, but state environmental and economic people, and people from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, don’t show up for them.

New Jersey has a great opportunity to be the leading state for green economic development, with other states learning from us. But if we don’t make that a priority, another state could take the opportunity, which would be a big loss for the state of New Jersey.

First Annual Survey of New Jersey Business Sustainability

This Survey, done over five years ago by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Institute for Sustainable Enterprise and PublicMind, provides us with a lot of great information and potential about sustainable business in New Jersey. One of the findings in this Survey is that over 50% of the businesses responded being at least somewhat engaged in sustainability practices. Just this finding alone is reassuring because over 300 business responded to the survey. The biggest sustainability practice of these businesses is recycling which 92% practiced. That’s pretty impressive but on the flip side it shouldn’t be that hard for a business to recycle. Improving energy efficiency and supporting employees in participating in community volunteerism were the next highest rated sustainability practices. This was also a good finding because these are not well-known.

Renewable energy and green LEED certified buildings were less common. It seems that sustainable approaches that are older and more common tend to be widely used, while newer sustainability practices are less common and still getting integrated.

New Jersey businesses care about sustainability practices and realize that sustainability can bring cost savings. Larger companies generally see more integration of environmental practices than smaller companies, but they both generally have the same beliefs in sustainability.

The survey also contained questions about business motives for sustainability actions, which uncovered some surprises. The highest rated sustainability motives were the belief that sustainability is the right thing to do and cost savings. The former is a very important finding because it shows the attitude of some businesses in New Jersey. And when companies believed that practicing sustainability was the right thing to do, they oftentimes enacted greater numbers of actual sustainable changes.

It was also found that satisfying investors was a key motive for implementing sustainability practices.

Letter to Senator Smith: Business and a Proactive Approach to Addressing Climate Change

This was a letter sent from Matt Polsky to Senator Smith and some New Jersey business trade associations. It contained several links to websites that show businesses have supported efforts to address climate change, including lobbying for legislation. Some of the articles explain the negative economic impacts of not addressing it. Other articles talk about the opportunities for business if they address climate change.

It asserts that businesses can be leaders in this area, both in New Jersey and the country.

Developing and Implementing a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey

This White Paper, also by the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise, uniquely promoted the idea of the state’s economic sectors embracing CSR, or corporate social responsibility, as a major way to address both environmental and economic concerns. This is a key factor because society and businesses are intertwined and impact each other.

It wrestled with the difficult issue of whether economic growth can be maintained on a finite planet, reconciling it in these ways: (a) to have sustainable growth in New Jersey we need to ensure both environmental protection and a strong economy. Anything less will be false growth, leading to instability in the future; (b) the state of the economy in New Jersey is closely related to the health of the environment. A green economy can only happen if it focuses on protecting and restoring the environmental assets upon which the economy rests; (c) it is important to explore the synergies between the economy and the environment, instead of aiming for a balance; (d) you cannot have a successful business in a society which is falling apart. That is why it should be in a business’ interest to help create the best society. Education, health care, equal opportunity, and safe working conditions are all aspects of a good society. So it would be in the best interest of business to support these because, among other things, it supplies them with a healthier, happier, and more educated workforce; (e) instead of needing more of everything, we need better. In order to support sustainable growth we need better housing, better transportation, better energy generation, smarter technologies, and smarter government–not more; (f) it has been noted that our traditional way of economic growth was simply not working to give us historically “high levels” of it; (g) “growth in real wealth is not only possible but increasingly necessary;” and (h) a green economy will need to encompass potentially all New Jersey economic sectors.

So without resolving this perennial issue, it provides several ways to look at it.

It also pointed out a sustainable approach to businesses will be important for future consumers, and that while New Jersey (at that time) was considered to be the second best green economy behind California, we could be doing better.

On the different (but complementary) issues of government spending and regulation, it advised: New Jersey needs to “distinguish between wasteful spending and necessary investment;” and we need to change conversations from arguing for less or more regulation, to “about how to get the right kind of regulation,” respectively.

The conclusion of this White Paper (in an apparent pattern) is that New Jersey can be a leader in what it calls “Sustainable Growth,” both globally and in the United States.

Governing with the Future in Mind: Working Together to Enhance New Jersey’s Sustainability and Quality of Life

This 2001 Report, by several agencies of state government, had some interesting recommendations to improve our sustainability practices. New Jersey should increase programs that support sustainable practices for manufacturing businesses. Many businesses are not aware of innovative changes in sustainability, and therefore do not put as much effort into this area as they could. Business leaders should not be under the impression that sustainability is a risky investment, but rather an essential investment for their company and New Jersey business as a whole.

State owned buildings and facilities should establish a goal to reduce their energy consumption by 25% over the next eight years. This is important because when the state prioritizes reducing energy within its own establishments, businesses may follow. Also, when the State takes the initiative, society may also follow, expediting the process of state sustainability.

Another recommendation stated: “All State agencies should incorporate sustainability concepts into goal-based strategic plans.” As each agency has a different function, each should have their own particular set of plans that goes beyond a “one size fits all” model.

This Report summed up by saying that it is important not only to improve the present state of sustainability, but also look to empower future New Jersey residents to take more sustainable actions. Therefore, another recommendation is for future generations of New Jersians to learn sustainability. “The State should consider incorporating sustainability as a standard component of the public education curriculum.” As also stated in the above-“Education” section, education should not simply teach environmental history, but also discuss the economy as well as personal responsibility. We should aim to teach the youth new ways to look for win/win situations and act to make these possible.

Returning more directly to business, it also said: “The State should expand the funding capabilities of the (then-existing) Sustainable Development Loan Fund.” Newly formed businesses focused on sustainability would be better able to receive funding.

A Look at Sustainable Development in New Jersey: How Have We Done and What are the Opportunities–If We Want Them?

This retrospective article stated the overarching challenge of the 21st century is achieving sustainable development. In order to do so, people must be open to learning new things, and lose the “we don’t know what we don’t know” mindset. New Jersey’s past is filled with missed opportunities to implement sustainability initiatives, although there certainly have been some successes.

One of the sustainability successes in New Jersey is 410 municipalities pursuing or achieving certification by Sustainable Jersey. There have been other successes like Dodge Foundation’s support of Sustainable Jersey; the longevity of, and green buildings manuals produced by, the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS), an association of colleges in the state interested in sustainability, and some of its members’ new educational offerings.

Some of the state’s sustainability failures include, the demise of the OSB within state government, and the termination of the New Jersey Sustainable State Institute at Rutgers University. Most efforts to alert legislators about sustainability measures have been ignored. Even the environmental community has not been interested in green economy ideas.