Lighting up Cherry Hill, more sustainably

Mayor’s Message: Bernie Platt

The lights are shining here in Town Hall, and in the last few weeks, those lights have begun shining more efficiently, thanks to a number of upgrades being completed in our municipal facilities.

With the help of funding and incentives from New Jersey’s Direct Install program, all light fixtures in our municipal complex — both our civilian offices and the police department — and the department of public works facility on Perina Boulevard are being upgraded from T-12 light fixtures to more efficient and more cost-effective T-8 bulbs.

All offices, hallways and conference rooms are being outfitted with motion-sensor technology, which will ultimately tremendously reduce energy usage in low-traffic areas. Additionally, all of our doorway “Exit” signs are being replaced with LED signs.

These upgrades have taken place piece by piece over the last several weeks — in fact, visitors to town hall have likely seen the work in progress. It’s being completed with the help of more than $103,000 in state incentives; overall, we expect to realize more than $45,000 a year in savings, while trimming more than 379,000 kilowatt hours from our overall energy consumption at our facilities.

These improvements are a small adjustment in terms of overall municipal operations, but they are a giant leap forward with regard to my administration’s overarching Green Action Plan and our ambitious sustainability efforts. These changes and our involvement in the Direct Install program have been several years in the making, and tie into an energy-use audit commissioned in 2008.

As you well know, Cherry Hill has been recognized statewide and nationally for our sustainability efforts. In November, we received Silver-level certification from the Sustainable Jersey program — the highest level of recognition from that organization, in large part because we have been leaders in moving our municipal operations to a higher level of efficiency and sustainability.

And while I’ll always say that more can be done, it’s nice to see that those little changes such as changing light fixtures can yield such significant savings over time. After all, that is the real “win-win” for both town hall and the taxpayers of Cherry Hill: finding a way to leverage these more upgrades so they translate into a benefit to both our environment and our wallets.

That’s the bottom line, and it’s a philosophy I’ve maintained in all of the upgrades we’ve undertaken in the last two years. From the 100-kW solar array launched at DPW last year, to efforts to reduce paper usage, to purchasing hybrid SUVs for our municipal fleet, my administration has, from day one, been careful to focus our priorities where they would be most effective and have the least overall impact to our taxpayers. ­

The energy audit completed three years ago has helped guide us toward that goal; it outlined where we could consider making changes that ran the gamut from motion sensors to solar panels, while allowing us to look at realistic costs versus the potential for savings. We’ve been fortunate to be able to take advantage of programs like Direct Install, and to have the support of our local, state and federal lawmakers, like U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, whose backing was key in helping us secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grant money to complete our solar projects.

These initiatives have been a great source of pride throughout my time as mayor of Cherry Hill, and as I look toward the future, I’m proud to see them come to fruition.

As always, for more information on any of these efforts, contact my office at 488–7878, or ­e-mail me at MayorPlatt@chtownship.com.