We have the unique opportunity to improve the quality of life for residents by committing to make Hoboken more sustainable. We need to continue forward-thinking policies and legislation that will make our City greener, benefiting residents for both the short and long term.
Over the past eight years, Councilman Jim Doyle and I have been proud to play a part in our many accomplishments that have made our City greener, including the acquisition or build out of over 9 acres of open space, adding bike share and car share services, implementing the City’s composting program, and more. Councilman Doyle, a member of the Green Team, wrote the legislation adopted by the City for incentivizing green roofs, which has resulted in over 100,000 square feet of green roofs in just the past two years.
Team Bhalla’s plan for a greener Hoboken
Alternative and renewable energy sources
Explore options to facilitate the City’s energy purchasing from alternative and renewable sources, following the lead of other successful Cities across the country, including Burlington, Vermont and Aspen, Colorado. Both of these Cities now purchase 100% of their energy from renewable sources. Hoboken can be a leader in purchasing renewable energy and becoming a model for the rest of the region.
Increase electric vehicles and charging stations
Across the country, there has been a greater demand for electric vehicles, which are more energy efficient than traditional vehicles using gasoline. I will add electric vehicles to our car sharing program, and include electric vehicle charging stations in current municipal parking areas. Additionally, we will incorporate electric vehicle charging stations into all future municipal garage designs and other public areas.
Encourage participation in Hoboken’s Solar Challenge
We will encourage participation in Hoboken’s Solar Challenge, which facilitates additional solar panels on properties in Hoboken, including our municipal garage rooftops. Solar energy not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but it can also lead to energy cost savings, and provide a source of backup power in case of an emergency.
Expand energy conservation measures
We need to set an example for energy efficiency by starting with City buildings. As Mayor, I will expand expand energy conservation measures in municipal buildings by conducting new energy audits utilizing the State’s Clean Energy Program. This will allow our municipal buildings to become more energy efficient and save money in maintenance and heating/cooling costs. I will also work with New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program to promote energy savings programs in Hoboken that can provide cost savings to businesses and residents.
Improve alternative transportation options
I’m proud to have played a part with Mayor Zimmer in bringing our car share and bike share services to Hoboken. These additional transportation options allow residents to travel without dependence on a personal vehicle, and as Mayor I’ll do my part to expand both of these services. I’ll also improve and expand the existing HOP bus service to include weekend service, to further incentivize alternative transportation options.
Phase out non-energy efficient vehicles
Whenever possible, we will phase out traditional gasoline and diesel vehicles in our municipal fleet in favor of hybrid and electric vehicles. This will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it would allow for fuel cost savings.
Increase composting options
Our composting program has been a success, but we need to expand the program’s reach so more residents are incentivized to use it. My goal is to make it more convenient to compost, which includes increasing the number of drop off locations while also examining other options to lower the program’s cost.
Replace or increase 4,000 street trees
Our Shade Tree Commission does a fantastic job with its street trees program. I pledge to partner with the commission to meet its goal of adding or replacing up to 4,000 street trees by 2020.
Expand community clean-up events
One of the great things about our City is the number of residents volunteering their time on a regular basis to help maintain and beautify Hoboken. As Mayor, I’ll expand the Earth Day cleanup and planting event to two times a year, while also partnering with successful, existing organizations promoting community cleanup and restoration events such as Hoboken Grace’s One Day of Action.
Reduce reliance on plastic bags
As a City, we have the opportunity to reduce our reliance on plastic bags, which are detrimental to our environment. Hoboken’s Green Team has initiated steps to reduce single use plastic bag consumption, and I plan to work with them, as well as our local schools (such as the students from All Saints, who gave a presentation to the Council about this idea), to identify ways we can reduce plastic bag consumption in Hoboken.
Improve our recycling program
We will identify best practices to improve the state-mandated recycling program to increase efficiencies and reduce the cost of the program. This could include a system of separating types of recycling materials and a modified recycling schedule.
Join Climate Mayors Coalition
With the United States no longer a part of the Paris Agreement, Mayors from across the country have joined the Climate Mayors Coalition, which includes Cities that are willing to commit to the agreement’s goals. I plan to join this coalition and collaborate with other elected officials on best practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Add more open space
Open space not only improves our quality of life, but it is a benefit to our environment. We’ve added 9 acres of open space over the past eight years, with more to come in the years ahead, including an expanded Southwest Park and a waterfront park at the Union Dry Dock property on Sinatra Drive, among other potential areas.