LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP was first certified in 2009 with 180 points and certified again in 2010 with 200 points. Lawrence was certified again in 2011 at the Bronze level with 260 points. Lawrence Township was certified on October 13, 2014 with 230 points. Listed below is information regarding Lawrence Township Sustainable Jersey efforts and materials associated with the applicant’s certified actions. Lawrence Township has applied for Silver level certification which has a 350 point minimum.
11th Annual Mother Nature Festival
Together with the Lawrence Township Environmental & Sustainability Green Advisory Committee and Friends of Lawrence Nature Center Sustainable Lawrence hosted the 11th annual Mother Nature Festival at the Lawrence Nature Center on May 10th 2014. Among the highlights of this event were a wildlife show from the Philadelphia Zoo, demonstrations on how to make a rain garden and rain barrel, and a presentation on honey bees and their importance.
Animals In the Community Education
Animals in Community Education at the Drexel Woods and the Lawrence Nature Center The Lawrence Township Nature Center located in Drexel Woods (Township Open Space) provides excellent educational programs on nature and local wildlife. The property includes 45 acres of forest and meadow, a stream, and a network of trails that connect to two local schools. The Lawrence Nature Center houses wildlife and educational displays and offers nature programs to schools, scouting groups, families and community events. This facility was fully renovated by the Township and the Township provides support through the Recreation Department. The Drexel Woods trails are a part of the regional Lawrence Greenway Network. The Nature Center features a native plant garden, a butterfly garden, a rain garden, bee hives, nesting boxes for bluebirds, bats, wood ducks, and a nesting structure for chimney swifts. The Lawrence Nature Center Friends and local community provide stewardship for the property and offer environmental education and guided filed hikes throughout the year. The programs offered included: • Seasonal hikes each autumn, winter, spring and summer. Generally 25 people attend these programs: Bat Programs, Warbling Wonders, Scutes, Sliders & Stinkpots, and Damsels and Dragons • Summer camps – Approximately 50 students were taught during two summer sessions. • Earth Day events – Approximately 300 people attended the Mother Earth Day event. The events have included nature hikes, animal presentations, nature inspired arts and crafts, native plant sales, rain barrel painting, and art exhibitions, etc. • Tuesday Family Nights – Generally attended by 25-40 people, the programs include: Science and Nature Game Night Light & Shadows in Nature – Learn about the phases of the moon we see, sunlight, the shadows the sun creates Duck Decoys presentation Insects – Search for insects in the meadow, using hand lenses and field guides to identify them. Bees and Butterflies – Learn about their work as pollinators. Early Farm Iron – Learn how it was crafted and used.
The Sustainable Living Series
In 2013 we partnered with the School District and other local organizations, to organize a series of six town wide events that were collectively called the Sustainable Living Series. Each of these town wide events offered educational seminars, workshops and expo floors. The events aimed to systematically increase our collective and individual knowledge of sustainability concepts, explore each sustainability topic as a precursor to on going programs and find community interests and priorities with regards to the environment and sustainability
In partnership with the green teams from Ewing, Hopewell, and the Mercer County Office of Sustainable Development the Lawrence Township Green Team and Sustainable Lawrence, organized the seventh annual Living Local EXPO. The EXPO was started as a venue to showcase local green resources in the area and a place to hold short educational seminars for people interested in changing their lifestyles to become more sustainable. In the past seven years, the event has grown exponentially, to include energy efficiency NJ Clean Energy incentives, installers, and providers, electric and high efficiency vehicles, local farmers and products, health officials and hospital wellness clinics, and local schools. For the past three years, Lawrence Township has reached out to neighboring municipalities to collaborate in the organizing task force. We now feature, over 85 local vendors (including businesses, schools, faith communities and other groups) promoting “green” tracks: home efficiency, community/school gardens, transportation, local farms/products, health and healthy living, and community education. We included hands-on workshops, displays from local businesses and non-profits, and the “Ask your Neighbor” table where visitors can hear how homeowners and businesses completed successful energy-efficient projects. We had speakers presented sustainability issues ranging from local birds, “green” insurance, school science projects to the future of transportation to recycling in Mercer County, and more. We had over 1500 attendees.
Farming and gardening have always been an integral factor in the fabric of Lawrence Township. From feeding the troops during the Revolutionary War to grain mills along many of the streams that helped develop the commerce of our town. From vegetables farms and orchards to grain farms and wild lands, Lawrence has supplied and benefited from agriculture. The Trenton Farmers Market (operated by the Trenton Grower’s Cooperative Association), one of the last covered farmers markets in New Jersey has been located in Lawrence since 1937 serving thousands of customers with Jersey Fresh produce, cheese, meat, eggs, as well as extremely diverse foodstuffs. In 1975 with a low of six farmers to 2014 with 15 active farmers, the town right to farm ordinance passed in 1980, helped protect active agricultural activities. Once the state Farmland Preservation Program was enacted, Lawrence was very supportive of landowners willing to preserve their farmland. Lawrence also preserved thousands of acres through the state green acres program. At this time, several hundred are rented to food farmers. Regular citizens have also showed green thumbs from beautiful landscaped homes to backyard vegetable gardens and orchards. Through a cooperative agreement between the Lawrenceville School and the Township of Lawrence two acres of the Cranstoun Farm are utilized for a community garden.
A rain garden demonstration project was constructed in October 2010 at the Lawrence Nature Center (LNC), located at the south end of Drexel Avenue in Lawrence Township, New Jersey. The LNC is a municipal facility operated through the Lawrence Township Recreation Department. The rain garden demonstration project was developed through the input and cooperation of the Lawrence Township Green Team, Environmental Resources Committee, Public Works Department, Recreation Department and the Friends of the LNC. The Rutgers University Water Resources Program was contracted by Lawrence Township to size and design the rain garden, as well as supervise the construction. The Lawrence Township Department of Public Works installed downspout connections to the rain garden location, excavated the garden area, amended the native soils with sand, and placed mulch at the surface. Native planting were installed in the rain garden by community volunteers. The plantings were purchased by Lawrence Township from Pinelands Nursery & Supply. The rain garden is approximately 250 square feet, and manages runoff from a portion of the LNC rooftop, as well as a portion of the yard. Because the LNC was formerly a residential house, the rain garden serves as an excellent demonstration project for homeowners. Since the construction and volunteer planting, the demonstration rain garden has been utilized for public outreach within the community. A rain garden workshop was held at the LNC on November 13th, 2010. The workshop was run by the Rutgers University Water Resources Program, and featured a powerpoint presentation focused on educating homeowners on how to implement rain gardens on their own properties. The workshop also included a tour of the demonstration rain garden. The LNC has also used the rain garden through their regular educational programming, including a rain garden discussion at the Mother’s Earth Day Festival in May 2011.
The Lawrence Township Environmental Resources Committee was combined with the Green Team by the Township Council by ordinance (attached) on January 8, 2013. The powers of the Environmental Resources Committee (which functioned as the Township’s Environmental Commission) were retained in the new Environmental Resources and Sustainability Green Advisory Committee (ERSGAC). The ERSGAC meets every second Thursday of the month. In the past twelve months the Committee has been involved with the Living Local Expo, Mother Nature Day, and the Colonial Lake stream clean-up. In additional, the ERSGAC reviews applications before the Planning and Zoning Boards and makes recommendations regarding sustainability.
On Site Solar System Installation
The Lawrence Township Public School District began investigating the possibility of installing solar panels on the roofs of all seven schools in the district. The Township, in conjunction with Sustainable Lawrence, took the lead in educating the public on the advantages of using clean energy and the benefits of solar power. This enabled the governing body to support the $10,000,000 referendum that was ultimately approved by the voters. In conjunction with guidance and evaluative assistance from the township, the roofs were replaced and panels installed on five schools. Although the Board completed the project, the Board and the township worked together to achieve an end result that benefits both the community and the school district. Today, any township resident can utilize the district website or visit the interactive kiosks in the schools to access energy information and the benefits of the solar panel initiative
Work with the Local Government
Sustainable Lawrence has done a number of things in conjunction the local government of Lawrence to enhance the sustainability of Lawrence such as
- Adding a sustainability aspect to Lawrence’s master plan
- Adding an Environmental Assessment section to Lawrence’s Land Use Ordinance which states that “An Environmental Impact Statement is required by the Lawrence Township Land Development Ordinance to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of proposed land development on the environment and the community. This statement must include an inventory of the natural features, the environmental performance controls required during construction and the impact and alternatives to the project, together with proposals for mitigating any potential impact on the natural resources.”
- Adding a Tree Protection section to Lawrence’s Land Use Ordinance which controls and regulates the indiscriminate removal of trees for the purposes of protecting the trees, the environment, and for the health and safety of the community. The ordinance is designed to prevent conditions which cause an increase in storm water runoff, sedimentation, soil erosion, reflected heat, air or noise pollution, or inhibit aquifer recharge. This section of the LUO provides for tree protection zones, standards and methods of tree protection to achieve the goal of preserving where possible and replanting through the Required Tree Density and Tree Replacement Section if removal is unavoidable.
- Helping to set up a Complete Streets program to improve the safety accommodations provided to both pedestrians and bicyclists on the local roads. These improvements include shoulder lane striping, pedestrian crosswalks with striping, ADA accessible sidewalks and curb ramps with detectable warnings, crosswalks, bicycle lanes, and share the road signage.
- Worked with the local government to make a Natural Resource Inventory and a Environmental Resource Inventory to be used during the review process in conjunction with the Environmental Impact Statement that is required as part of the application for Planning Board or Zoning Board approval.
- Got Lawrence’s Local Government to approve a Sustainable Land Use Pledge.
- Worked with Lawrence’s Local Government to implement a safe prescription drug disposal program.
- Assisted Lawrence’s Local Government with signing up for the Smart Start direct install program for the seven Lawrence municipal buildings. This involved improving the energy efficiency of the buildings through things such as installing energy efficient windows and doors, programmable thermostats, low flow plumbing fixtures, and energy efficient lighting.