More Green Building Legislation May be Imminent for Garden State

Two pieces of green building legislation introduced by a Hudson County legislator are now pending before the New Jersey state legislature in Trenton, and would apply to residential development in the Garden State.

Earlier this week, Hudson County Assemblyman Ruben Ramos of Hoboken sponsored two green building bills as New Jersey’s fall legislative session opened up in Trenton.

The first, A1626, would require affordable housing to implement green design features, though the bill as proposed does not mandate any particular formal certification or include specifics on how the legislation would be enforced. The second, A2065, would provide low-interest loans available to developers who construct or renovate a building that qualifies as a “high-performance green building,” which is defined in the bill as “a building having at least 15,000 square feet in total floor area that is designed and constructed in a manner that achieves at least a [S]ilver rating according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System as adopted by the United States Green Building Council.”

Ramos was also a co-sponsor of last year’s Green Building Tax Credit Act (S1077, which is apparently still pending before the legislature); that bill would provide developers with up to $20 million in annual tax credits which they’d be able to apply to their state corporate, income, sewer, and water taxes. The amount of credits that would be awarded for a particular project increases as the developer builds to higher levels of LEED certification, up to an additional six percent for LEED Platinum. Over the course of the seven-year program, the total amount of available credits could increase to $50 million.

When we pointed out S1077 earlier this year, we noted that it did not include any flexibility in terms of allowing projects to comply with any rating systems other than LEED. We mentioned this because, even earlier this year, New Jersey amended a mandate that all new public construction greater than 15,000 square feet meet LEED Silver requirements to also allow a two Green Globe rating to satisfy the original bill, which was enacted on March 5, 2007. Accordingly, it’s curious that both S1077 and A1626 make no mention of Green Globes or other alternative means for satisfying the legislation’s requirements.

Given New Jersey’s ongoing budget crisis that was considered dire even before this week’s catastrophic events on Wall Street, it’s likely that lawmakers will run into increased opposition in Trenton with respect to the bills that would give financial breaks to private interests. Accordingly, we expect to see significant debate and, ultimately, perhaps amendments to each of the bills as proposed that could harmonize the requirements across each piece of legislation as currently drafted.

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One Response to More Green Building Legislation May be Imminent for Garden State

  1. Chris Cheatham Friday, September 19, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    The 2008-2009 legislative sessions should be a huge year for green building legislation at the city, state and federal level. I just wrote about Virginia’s efforts to pass green building legislation: Like New Jersey, Virginia is struggling with the choice between LEED and Green Globes. Even the federal government has included both LEED and Green Globes in recent legislation.

    My guess is that there is some serious green building lobbying going on across the country. The end result should be interesting.

    Keep up the good work,