Amid construction boom, development stands out with help from NJ’s Clean Energy Program

The cranes rising across New Jersey signal good times for developers across the state. New Jersey saw a 10% increase in new office and retail space last year, measured by 2014 building permits, and a more than 24% increase in new multifamily units.

But construction booms bring their own set of challenges. As more supply comes onto the market, developers must find new ways to stand out amid a sea of new buildings. One approach is to capture the attention of environmentally and cost -conscious tenants through greater energy efficiency.

Green buildings standards such as ENERGY STAR and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) have been shown to increase occupancy by as much as 23%, according to the World Green Business Council, and often command rental premiums. Receiving a green building certification can also result in tax breaks and financial incentives through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP).

The NJCEP Pay for Performance program incentivizes developers who take a comprehensive, whole-building approach to saving energy. As much as $2 million in incentives are available for reducing energy use at least 15% below the state’s current energy code. Both existing and new construction projects are eligible for the program.

Ironstate Development and Panepinto Properties participated in the Pay for Performance program for the development of 70 Columbus Tower, a new 50-story residential building with 12,000 s/f of retail in Jersey City. James Ronga of Ironstate was applying for an urban transit credit from the state’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) when he learned of the benefits associated with NJCEP. Through Pay for Performance, Ronga was able to satisfy EDA green building requirements and also make significant progress in obtaining LEED certification for the project.

70 Columbus Tower exceeds building requirements on energy efficiency and water conservation. Electricity savings are achieved through high-efficiency lighting as well as packaged terminal heat pumps and air conditioners. Hot water is provided through a centralized, 96% efficient gas-fired condensing boiler. Further gas savings are achieved by reducing demand through low-flow water faucets and ENERGY STAR appliances. The building envelope’s efficiency was improved by adding insulation within the wall space and by installing more efficient glass panels.

The Pay for Performance program will provide an estimated $775,446 in incentives for 70 Columbus Tower, covering about 74% of the $1.05 million cost of the energy-efficient equipment. The upgrades are expected to result in energy savings of 1.095 MWh of electricity and 1,780 MMBtu of natural gas per year.

Energy-efficiency improvements at 70 Columbus Tower will benefit residents as well by lowering their utility costs. Ronga expects those energy savings will help differentiate the building from other high-rise buildings coming onto the market.

“There’s a definite benefit to building green. It should help us attract new residents and retain the residents in our buildings,” Ronga said. “We are focused on our portfolio of residences becoming the go-to buildings for residents concerned about their energy costs.”

For more information about the incentives available in New Jersey and New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program, call 866-NJSMART or visit NJCleanEnergy.com/MARE. Incentive programs are offered by utilities and states across the Mid-Atlantic region. Check with your local utility or public service commission for opportunities.

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