Raritan Valley Community College is being recognized as a national leader in environmental sustainability. It is the first community college in New Jersey and the third in the country to become carbon-neutral. This is done in a number of ways, mainly with the college's energy programs.

RVCC Vice President of Finance and Facilities John Trojan said the college produces a lot of its own energy  from natural gas or solar. It also buys carbon offset to cover about 15 percent it doesn't do itself.

Beyond what it produces and what it buys contractually through New Jersey Central Power and Light, RVCC pays extra to make sure they supply the school with green power. Trojan said this could be wind power but it may also be burning some corn husks. It's all certified green power.

In January, RVCC received an award from the state Department of Environmental Protection and its Charging Challenge and the New Jersey Smart Workplaces Program. That all had to do with the fact that there's so many more electric vehicles on the roads, so RVCC has charging stations on its campus.

Trojan said there are four Level 2 charging stations on campus that students and faculty can use for free.

Trojan also pointed out how lucky the college is because Somerset and Hunterdon counties have provided RVCC with capital funding for investments.

"We just completed a project last summer to replace all of our campus roadway lighting with LEDs," said Trojan.

In 2009, RVCC's total gas and electric bill was $2.3 million. This year it will be $1.3 million. The size of the campus has increased by a third over the last few years, so he said all these conservation measures help quite a bit.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education named the college a Green Ribbon School for its sustainable education, programs and practices.

For the future, Trojan said every building that will be added will have a significant energy component. Whatever can be done to reduce water consumption is on the agenda.

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