The regulations encourage environmentally responsible design practices consistent with the guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit organization based out of Washington, DC. It is the nation's leading organization representing the development community on environmental building matters, and it rates and certifies environmentally friendly buildings throughout the United States.
NJMC Chair and New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Susan Bass Levin offered her support for the new regulations.
"These regulations will serve as an incentive for those bringing new projects to the Meadowlands to build green," she said. "Furthermore, today's actions coincide with the DCA Green Building Task Force's mission to transform New Jersey into a national leader in green program and policy initiatives. The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission is at the forefront of these efforts. We have a unique opportunity to pursue sustainable building practices in a regionally integrated manner."
It's not easy being green, but worth it
Green architecture is a design method that attempts to minimize the impact of construction on the environment. Once thought of as an unconventional fringe form of development, green architecture is being increasingly accepted into the mainstream by both state and federal agencies, as well as the general public.
For a building to qualify for the USGBC's LEED certification, it must take several categories into consideration, including sustainability, materials, water management, energy efficiency, land use, and waste reduction.
The incentives that developers can benefit from if they comply with LEED standards are considerable. These incentives include a partial refund of required zoning review fees based on the level of LEED certification achieved.
Refunds will be 30 percent for a Platinum project, 25 for Gold, 20 for Silver and 15 for Certified. Applications for LEED-certified projects will receive a priority review by NJMC staff. There will also be density incentives for new LEED-certified buildings and additions where residential uses are permitted.
Incentives part of NJMC strategy
These incentives are the latest step in the NJMC establishing itself as a leader in green building and sustainable energy. Earlier this year, the NJMC formed the Regional Renewable Energy District in the Meadowlands, with the goal of creating 20 megawatts of renewable energy within the Meadowlands District by the year 2020.
This district will consist of NJMC municipalities, boards of education, neighboring municipalities, developers, fellow state and government agencies that will work together to achieve this goal.
A new science center and observatory for the NJMC's Meadowlands Environment Center (MEC) will be constructed according to LEED Gold standards, and current buildings will be retrofitted to meet standards for existing buildings.
"This agency's commitment to green building practices and renewable energy will enhance the quality of our environment and the quality of life for those who work and live in this area," said NJMC Commissioner Leonard Kaiser. "The old ways of constructing buildings and consuming energy are now obsolete, and we must lead the way toward a better way of doing things. By encouraging compliance with green building standards, this agency is ensuring that we have both an economically and environmentally secure future as a community."