March 15, 2011 05:53
Yesterday I had a negative experience that caused me to think about some of the practical consequences of climate change. Instead of taking my usual route home, I and many others were forced to use an alternate route because a major state highway was closed due to flooding from an adjacent river. This condition will exist for several days, and its occurrence has been increasing in frequency and severity within the last ten years. Worse than that inconvenience to me and other drivers is the flooding of homes and business that occurs with greater regularity in my area of New Jersey including the communities of Wayne, Little Falls, and Fairfield.Is anyone thinking about potential legislative solutions to our storm water problems? The answer in New Jersey is, “yes Virginia”. Three primary sponsors in the New Jersey Assembly have introduced five companion bills that are aimed at improving our storm water management and greening our built environment. We will examine each of these bills in turn over the next few days. They could provide guidance to other States considering how to respond to this increasing problem. All of the proposed bills provide various incentives for Green roofs or Blue roofs. A “Green roof” is one that includes, among other things, a growth medium and a vegetation layer of drought resistant and hardy plant species, designed to improve stormwater management. A “Blue roof” is constructed with mechanical controls, such as gravel beds, perforated pipes, or rooftop detention systems, that drain stormwater to improve stormwater management.
A3679: Requires incorporation of Green or Blue roofs on new State buildingsBill A3679 would require any new building, facility or structure having at least 15,000 square feet in total floor area that is constructed for the sole use of a State governmental entity to include a functioning Green roof or Blue roof.The bill directs the Division of Property Management and Construction to consult with the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that designs for such roofs comply with this Act. As currently drafted the law would be effective one year after passage, allowing appropriate lead time for all concerned parties to comply with this fundamental design shift.A3681: Requires Green or Blue roofs on new buildings using State, EDA, or Schools Development Authority FundsThis bill is nearly identical to A3679 in terms of substantive requirements. However, it expands the scope of the legislation to include any new construction projects that are funded by the State, or that are funded by the NJ Economic Development Authority, or any schools that are built through the Schools Development Authority. The number of such structures that are built each year is almost always greater than the number of structures that are built for the exclusive use of State government. As the bill states, in most instances projects that use Green or Blue roofs will also achieve operational cost savings from increased energy efficiency. The question that some might raise in this context, or with respect to other green building mandates, is whether the costs of construction to comply with the heightened standards will increase, thereby decreasing the number of projects can be built. That is a topic of much debate that is beyond the scope of this series. Tomorrow, more about the wide reach of this body of legislation.