Green

Millburn to Use New Development Ordinance to Encourage More Green Building

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This home at 7 Sherwood Drive in Short Hills exemplifies the green building Millburn Township officials are encouraging. The house—which features energy-efficient materials, appliances and heating and cooling systems—qualifies for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating.
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MILLBURN, NJ - With a new development ordinance, Millburn Township officials are seeking to encourage more green building in the municipality.

The ordinance, passed by the Township Committee in August, lays out green building practices for township-funded building projects as well as for construction by private developers. Its stated goals are “to encourage resource conservation, to reduce the waste generated by construction projects, to increase energy efficiency, and to promote the health and productivity of residents, workers, and visitors to the township.”

“There are so many practical, sustainable, cost-effective measures that can be easily incorporated into many building plans,” said Arlene Yang, a member of the municipality’s Environmental Commission who sits on the Planning Board. The Planning Board worked on the ordinance for a year and sent it to the Township Committee for final approval.

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The ordinance relies on a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The system has been used to design other buildings in the state.

For township-funded building projects, the rating system will be used for the design and construction of new buildings and major renovations and additions to township-owned buildings. Township-funded capital improvement projects are to meet a minimum LEED “Silver” rating.

For private development projects, the township has established a sustainability checklist as part of the checklist for site plans and subdivision applications. The checklist asks for the name of any LEED accredited professionals working on the project; a list of applicants, fixtures and construction techniques which meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star and WaterSense standards; and a list of green and recycled building materials used in construction, renovation and maintenance.

In addition, the applicant must provide a waste management plan for recycling and/or reusing 60 percent of all construction and demolition waste generated in projects larger than $25,000, outlining where the waste will be sent, together with a letter from each of the receiving facilities.

Applicants will be asked if they are using any water efficient landscaping, on-site renewable energy systems—solar, wind or geothermal, roofing materials that reduce heat or stormwater systems that recycle or retain water. Applicants are also being asked to supply a list of native and well-adapted species used in landscaping to eliminate the need for fertilization and pesticides.      

For each of the building or design items on the checklist, applicants must indicate the extent to which the measure is being incorporated in the project, or, alternatively, the reasons why not.

The new ordinance was an outgrowth of an experience the Planning Board had during a site plan hearing, according to Planning Board member Sandra Haimoff, who is also a member of the Township Committee. The board regularly asks applicants how a building will affect the environment, she said.

On one particular occasion, the board asked an architect about his use of green standards and he seemed surprised or taken aback by the line of questioning.

“The board said we have to do something about that,” Haimoff said.

The township’s construction code official, Stephen Jones, was asked to review the ordinance before it was adopted. He made a change in the section about township building and gave the measure his endorsement.

“We’ll continue to see the interest and desire to make building as green as possible,” he predicted.

Jones is one of 18 directors of the International Code Council, which has worked with other organizations to create a set of model codes and standards for green building in the U.S. The codes, just released in March, can be adopted by states and towns, which will be responsible for enforcement.

“Whereas before, the desire to build green might have been there, doing so was cost prohibitive,” he said. “With new technology, that’s changing.”

Passage of the ordinance aids Millburn’s effort to become certified under the “Sustainable Jersey” program, according to Yang. The program encourages municipalities to go green, save money and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term.

The township has a Green Team, which has been working on the certification. Gary Rosard, an architect, heads the team. 

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