Battered New Jersey town seeks a green salvation

The town of Morristown New Jersey is building an "EcoCenter" to house sustainable and locally focused business to revive its economy.
Written by David Worthington, Contributor

A conceptual sketch of the EcoCenter. Illustration by Ben Walmer, Limn Architects.

The town of Morristown, New Jersey is taking a strategic bet that sustainable businesses and entrepreneurship will pull its local economy out of doldrums.

The economic downturn hit Morristown hard; empty lots and vacant buildings encumber Bank Street, a thoroughfare that once was bustling with commerce. Its solution is to build an “EcoCenter” in a building that once housed a 20,000-square-foot auto dealership.

Morristown EcoCenter’s planners proposed the project last month, which promises to bring a variety of green themed businesses to the town. The center will house green technology start-up offices and laboratories as well as containing rooftop gardens, a cultural center, a “green” store, and a Jersey farm-to-table restaurant.

I learned about the project on Monday from Bob Dombrowski, chief technology officer of a non-profit start-up services firm called Sustainable Business Incubator (SBI). SBI is helping to spearhead the project in partnership with local property owners.

Morristown has corralled together business leaders, residents and other stakeholders to aggressively promote sustainability as a path toward renewed prosperity.

The American Institute of Architects, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development have supported the program.

Other cities, including Mill Valley, CA have turned to sustainability out of environmental concerns. Projects have included roadside solar powered speed monitors, photo cell streetlights, a solar powered pizzeria, LED stoplights, energy efficiency, and reusing fallen trees as lumber.

Mill Valley believes that energy savings will pay for the projects in the long haul as energy costs inevitably rise. The state recently passed a renewable energy standard into law.

Related on SmartPlanet:

Mill Valley California becomes a "green city"

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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