For about seven months, city officials and citizens have united with the common interest of creating sustainability for Margate and Absecon Island.

Margate's newly formed Green Team has a wealth of initiatives and goals that will help the barrier island toward its goal to become more environmentally friendly.

Monica Coffey, of Margate, is the citizen chairwoman of the Green Team. She said the Green Team is for anyone interested in sustainability issues in Margate.

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"Margate is a very progressive, forward-thinking town, and we already have a lot of initiatives under way," Coffey said. "What we'd like to see is for the city to get credit for all the wonderful programs that are already happening."

The Green Team is enacting guidelines that have been laid out by Sustainable Jersey, a nonprofit certification program for "municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term," the nonprofit's website said.

The organization provides training and financial incentives for participating communities.

Among some of the existing programs in Margate are the use of solar power on all of Margate's schools, the use of a recycling depot, and the newest initiative - active since Feb. 4 - is the collection of curbside bulky rigid plastics for recycling.

According to a press release, Margate is the first city in Atlantic County to offer this service.

"Our goal is to have Margate certified at the bronze level this year. We are working on compiling data and documentation on some things that are already underway that qualifies us for Sustainable Jersey recognition," Coffey said.

Some actions outlined by Sustainable Jersey that municipalities can take fall under categories like "animals in the community," "energy efficiency," "land use and transportation" and "waste management."

Each action is worth a certain number of points that count towards certification. For example, the action of an "energy audit for one (municipal) building" under the category "energy efficiency" is worth 20 points toward a certification.

A municipality needs 150 points for a bronze level certification and 350 points for a silver level certification.

This year, Coffey said, the Green Team would like to audit all of Margate's municipal buildings' energy use.

She also said the group would like to see a bike and pedestrian audit, a fleet inventory of vehicles, a safe walk to school program and perhaps a natural resource inventory.

The bike and pedestrian audit would aim to make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly, while the fleet inventory of vehicles would attempt to replace old municipal vehicles with more fuel and cost-efficient ones.

"Our goals are for Margate to lessen its environmental footprint, to be as cautious as we possibly can about our environment and do everything we possibly can to be more green," Margate City Commissioner and Green Team member Brenda Taube said.

Coffey also said the team would ideally like to connect with other cities on Absecon Island, like Ventnor, which also has a Green Team.

"We want to look at Absecon Island as a whole. There are things that would bring more change as a group instead of looking at just Margate," Coffey said. "Margate City is part of Absecon Island, and we have neighbors and, most of the time, the same goals and objectives."

At this time, of the 565 municipalities in New Jersey, about 399 are registered with Sustainable Jersey and about 137 towns statewide are certified at either the bronze or silver level, Coffey said.

"I expect great things to come out of this committee of ours," Taube said.

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