TRENTON, NJ — New Jersey and other local contractors that promote the use of higher efficiency hvacr systems have some real opportunities these days.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it is enlisting the help of businesses, utilities, colleges, and other groups to meet a self-imposed goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

The department is stressing that by volunteering to conserve energy and switch to more efficient or renewable energy technology, these users can reduce their utility bills.

“We think we can make New Jersey the most efficient [state] in making products,” said Mike Winka, administrator of DEP’s Office of Innovative Technologies and Market Development. “That’s how we’re going to help New Jersey businesses compete, not only on the national market but on the international market.”

In spring of 2000, state environmental officials set a deadline of 2005 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 3.5% below their 1990 level — about 135 million metric tons of gases — then 10% of all U.S. emissions.

The state’s businesses are being urged to convert to more efficient equipment and/or using cleaner, renewable energy sources. The state’s parks and DEP facilities are also participating, according to the department. And every New Jersey college has pledged to do its part, as well as an interfaith coalition called Partners for Environmental Quality.

Now the department is working with military bases and county and municipal governments, and is trying to ensure that new schools built under New Jersey’s school construction program use renewable energy sources and energy-saving systems where possible.

The funding for these projects is in place. The state recently created a $358 million fund to subsidize business and residential purchases of renewable or high-efficiency energy technology.