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Assembly Approves Eustace, Spencer & Benson Bill Requiring New State Buildings to Include Renewable, Sustainable Energy Features

Buildings Must Include Distributed Energy Resources such as Microturbines, Fuel Cells, Solar Panels, Wind Turbines

By a vote of 56-14-4, the full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, L. Grace Spencer and Daniel Benson to require certain new state government buildings to be constructed with renewable or sustainable energy features.

Specifically, the bill (A-4261) requires any new building having at least 15,000 square feet in total floor area that is to be constructed for the use of a state governmental entity to include a distributed energy resource.

“New state building structures are an opportunity to improve sustainability and energy performance,” said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). “When constructing new buildings we must consider environmentally friendly designs and look at maximizing efficiency by reducing operation costs and lessening the environmental impact.”

The bill defines a “distributed energy resource” as one or more electric power generation, management, and storage technologies, excluding diesel fuel technologies, located at or near the point of energy consumption, which are capable of providing the standard energy needs of a building or structure if the normal source of electricity is disrupted due to a power outage. Distributed energy resources include microturbines, fuel cells, solar panels, wind turbines, gas-powered reciprocating engines, batteries, flywheels, and combined heat and power systems.

“New buildings designs should include techniques which promote sustainability and energy conservation,” said Spencer (D-Essex), who chairs the Assembly Environment Committee. “Reducing energy consumption and the cost of heating, cooling, and lighting buildings, without sacrificing the building’s efficiency, can save money and help reduce our environmental footprint.”

In addition, the bill requires that when a state governmental entity prepares to reconstruct, renovate, repair, or improve an existing state building having at least 15,000 square feet in total floor area, it must consider retrofitting the building with a distributed energy resource, and if feasible, include in its request for proposals a specification that the project include a distributed energy resource.

“This is yet another way to begin decreasing our reliance on non-renewable sources of energy,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Not only will it reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and save taxpayers money, but it will also set an example for other businesses to follow.”

Furthermore, all plans, specifications, and bid proposal documents for applicable buildings would have to identify the distributed energy resource to be constructed or utilized by the proposed building.

Finally, the requirements of the bill would not apply to any building work for which a request for proposals was issued prior to the effective date of this bill, and are in addition to other statutory requirements that require state buildings to be designed and managed to meet standards for a high performance green building.

The bill now awaits further consideration by the Senate.