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Assembly Panel Advances Ambitious Package Aimed at Fostering Design of Green Buildings

Ramos, McKeon, DeAngelo & Wagner Bills Would Boost Development of Energy Efficient, Environmentally-Friendly Buildings

A three-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ruben Ramos, Jr, John McKeon, Wayne DeAngelo, and Connie Wagner, which is designed to encourage the proliferation of environmentally-friendly buildings, was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

The first two bills aim to encourage the incorporation of green and blue roofs into the design of new and existing buildings. Green and Blue Roofs use vegetation or mechanical devices, respectively, to prevent roof water from draining too quickly, not only improve storm water management but also provide cost saving opportunities, such as more efficient energy usage for heating and cooling.

“It’s time to start making forward-thinking, eco-friendly solutions a priority for today, not a promise for tomorrow,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “Blue and Green roofs are a smart approach that will help save money in the long-term while also protecting our environment.”

The first bill (A-710) would require any new state government building, facility, or structure with at least 15,000 square feet in total floor area to be designed, constructed, and managed to include a functioning green roof or blue roof.

“Practicality and convenience do not have to be mutually exclusive,” said McKeon (D-Essex). “In the long run, buildings with environmentally-friendly designs end up saving more money. It’s time to start looking at the bigger picture and encouraging development with a conscience.”

The second bill (A-711) would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules and regulations within one year requiring, where feasible, any new development to incorporate blue or green roof technologies to limit the release rate of storm water runoff, as well as the use of blue or green roofs in storm water management plans and storm water management ordinances.

“When you consider the record amount of flooding we’ve received in recent years, and the rising temperatures we’ve been experiencing, it’s critical from both an environmental and fiscal sense, that we incorporate measures that help regulate storm water runoff and mitigate the urban ‘heat-island’ effect,” added Ramos.

“Green buildings mean greener communities, and a better quality of life for our residents,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We need to start thinking about our long-term future and how we can protect our environment in a manner that is energy and cost efficient.”

Priority consideration would also be given to any application for a permit, grant, approval, loan application, or other authorization granted by DEP for a project that includes the use of a blue or green roof.

“Given the fact that priority consideration will be given to projects that incorporate blue or green roofs, hopefully more project developers will be encouraged to adopt this environmentally-conscious approach,” said Wagner. “We need to do everything in our power to promote eco-friendly designs.”

The third bill (A-3103), sponsored by Ramos and Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, directs the Department of Community Affairs, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, municipal agencies, and county planning boards to give priority consideration to permit applications for green building projects.

“Green building projects” are defined as a project designed and constructed in a manner to: (1) achieve certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System as adopted by the United States Green Building Council; (2) qualify as Energy Star by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and United States Department of Energy; or (3) achieve at least a two globe rating according to the Green Globes Program as adopted by the Green Building Initiative; (4) achieved at least a Gold Certification according to the National Building Standard.

The measures were approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee and now await consideration by the full Assembly.