February 17, 2011

NJ committee approves 5-bill package to encourage design of green energy buildings

A five-bill package designed to encourage the proliferation of environmentally friendly buildings, was approved Thursday by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

The proposals are aimed at encouraging the incorporation of so-called green and blue roofs into the design of new and existing buildings. Green and blue roofs use vegetation or mechanical devices 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.

The first bill (A-3678) would provide projects that include the construction and maintenance of a green or blue roof with additional weight in the ranking system used by the state Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program to determine which projects receive financing.

"Given the fact that this program's funding is limited and the application process is competitive, this will enable us to foster the development of green buildings by giving these ambitious projects more weight," Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos (D-Hudson) said.

"This is a smart, forward-thinking approach that will help save money in the long-term while also protecting our environment."

The second bill (A-3679) 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.

The third bill (A-3680) would require the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules and regulations within one year requiring, where feasible:

One, any new development to incorporate blue or green roof technologies to limit the release rate of storm water runoff. Two, the use of blue or green roofs in storm water management plans and storm water management ordinances, as established or adopted by a storm water management planning agency; and three, priority consideration for 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.

The fourth bill (A-3681) would require any new building, facility, or structure, which is constructed, in whole or in part, by the state to be designed, constructed, and managed to include a functioning green roof or blue roof.

The last bill (A-3682) would authorize the DEP to provide low interest loans to qualified applicants towards the construction or acquisition and installation of blue roofs or green roofs to be installed on single family residences or on commercial, institutional, and industrial properties, in order to conserve water or improve storm water management.

The bill would allow money in the Global Warming Solutions Fund to be used to conserve water and improve storm water management through the construction and acquisition or installation of green roofs. The fund is supported by greenhouse gas emission credit auctions.

The measure would also allow DEP to award and prioritize grants or other forms of assistance to local governments for the construction or acquisition and installation of green roofs, including through financial assistance provided by the state Economic Development Authority.

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