Greener Buildings For Jersey City - What Will It Take ?

SJC is deepening it's focus on Greener Buildings this season, both residential and commercial buildings, in an effort to share actionable information and help JC stakeholders connect-the-dots to transform our built environment toward a more climate resilient city.  The opportunity to retrofit existing buildings and set new standards for new construction, will not only provide substantial ROI for owners and occupants, but avoid continued negative impacts to our environment. It can also be a fabulous way to ignite an economic boon for local green economy construction and building professionals, if Jersey City takes on a plan to retrofit our urban landscape with advanced technologies now available, being implemented all around us.  There are already substantial training and apprenticeship programs that have been underway by trade unions, who have recognized this market imperative for some time - why not put a stake in the ground here and now as we endeavor to make Jersey City one of the best mid-size cities in America ?

Quick Context -

  • While global warming and greenhouse gas emissions are terms that are generally associated with industry and transportation, the BUILDINGS where we work, shop, eat, go to school and live, significantly compromise the integrity of our natural resources by the effects of daily heating, cooling, ventilation and water use, all of which require the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal.  BUILDINGS account for 39 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions.
  • BUILDINGS in the United States also account for 40 percent of total energy use, 12 percent of total water consumption and 68 percent of total electricity consumption.  Am fond of saying you can't manage what you don't measure, so in my view these are useful benchmarks.  Now what ?  While these metrics (which are growing in the wrong direction) and the behavior that drives them, cannot be reversed overnight, it seems to me that GREENER MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDINGS, is a no brainer - not to be disrespectful.  (some references to these stats - US EPA, US Energy Information Administration, NRDC, US Green Building Council)

In partnership with Councilwoman At Large Joyce Watterman, SJC supported a June Public Forum on public-notice1 (3)-3_June 21 2014 Builders ForumEnhancing JC's Construction Division.  There will be a follow-up to this discussion scheduled for some time in September.  That meeting was very positive and the HEDC is working very hard to enhance the process of getting good building projects done, but we have to go further.  We must  begin to address the policies, ordinances and municipal recommendations that are all on record here; some are either not current or allow lowest end of standards range to persist, and some need implementation or amendments to close gaps - frankly, these guideposts are sometimes even at odds with one another.  We must institutionalize a Jersey City best practices framework for a sustainable and climate resilient built environment, and it must include changes to our building code.

I would say Jersey City is in the 'somewhat camp' - we have thought about this SOMEWHAT, but . . . THERE ARE NO INCENTIVES OR MANDATES IN PLACE WHICH WILL MAKE GREENER BUILDINGS IN JERSEY CITY A SIGNIFICANT REALITY ANYTIME SOON.  Fact is, this can change dramatically if folks worked together.

While those following our work know where we are headed on this - amped up education, new partnerships and working groups to help develop supportive policy proposals - this is a big conversation and would be great to know more of you who care about this topic.

Consider attending our next EAT, MEET, TALK! event on September 2nd, which is SJC's Monthly Meeting held at City Hall in Caucus Room #204.  Here's the link for more details -

http://sustainablejc.org/wordpress/ai1ec_event/sjc-monthly-meeting-eat-meet-talk/

Please consider digging in with us and joining this effort - it takes a great amount of collaboration and collective action to have something like this actually track successfully. Your engagement is very much appreciated, and everyone has something to offer that can help move this agenda forward.