What is the New Jersey Green Building Manual?
The New Jersey Green Building Manual (the “Manual”) is a voluntary, web-based educational resource tailored for New Jersey that provides economic and environmental best practices across the spectrum of green building categories including energy, emissions, water, waste, transportation, and human health. The New Jersey legislature authorized the creation of the Manual (C:52:27D130.6) to provide this guidance to owners and builders who participate in any state program that either encourages or requires the construction of green buildings.
The 2019 update of the Manual introduces a “resiliency lens” with an emphasis on traditional and smart infrastructure that jointly benefit energy efficiency and resiliency. This emphasis further reinforces the synergistic relationships among other green building goals, such as carbon emissions reduction and healthy buildings. Featured case studies highlight replicable examples of Solar Islanding, Heatwave Resiliency, and Load Shedding.
How the Manual is Organized
The Manual comprises Commercial and Residential sections – each of which contains best practice strategies applicable to new and/or existing buildings, and New Jersey specific case studies that illustrate strategies within a “lessons learned” framework.
Best practice strategies include all the main objectives of green building and design with an added focus on those that jointly promote energy efficiency and resiliency in keeping with prevalent policy objectives. The Manual does not attempt to prioritize the best practice strategies; instead it organizes them according to a flexible operational framework based on a design-build-operate-evaluate process for new commercial and residential buildings. Existing commercial building upgrade strategies are organized by focus areas such as “energy & resilience” or “environment & health.” Green home remodeling guidance is structured by common home renovation and upgrade projects such as “kitchen and bath” or “finished basement.”
Strategies in the Manual are customized for New Jersey climatic and other variables, and include a short explanation or definition, implementation recommendations, examples (when available), and sections on strategy benefits, costs, resiliency (if applicable), and additional resources.
The Rutgers Center for Green Building subscribes to the notion that “the future of green building is operational performance,” as is evidenced in its published works on building life cycle analysis (e.g., Life-Cycle Assessment of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Center for Environmental and Scientific Education Building).
Additionally, several new strategies in Manual on smart infrastructure point to the future role of buildings in helping to modernize the power grid (see Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings). The GridOptimal Building Initiative by the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and US Green Building Council (USGBC) also support this vision by working to develop standard metrics for measuring and quantifying building features and operating procedures that integrate buildings and the grid and increase energy efficiency, support the incorporation of renewable energy, and balance new loads, such as electric vehicles. The Center’s work on load shedding and the occupant experience (see Load Shedding Case Study) also align with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings research and funding opportunities, which integrate advanced sensors and controls, and communication with flexible, energy efficient building technologies to optimize the grid.
An eventual policy goal of the Manual is to associate operational performance-based targets with GridOptimal metrics that either require or incentivize developers and project teams to meet these targets.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for reference as voluntary guidelines for green and resilient building and design. The mention of a particular product, business or manufacturer does not constitute an endorsement, expressed or implied.
Why update the New Jersey Green Building Manual?
Building design and operation affect building users, the broader community, and the environment. Green building aims to: minimize adverse environmental and human health impacts that may result from buildings; restore degraded environments; and, contribute to the sustainable management of our air, energy, water, and other resources. Green building methods provide positive and healthy environments that lead to more satisfying and economically productive outcomes.
While the objectives of green building have not changed since the Manual’s initial release, available technologies, cost data, new best practice strategies, and research and understanding in the field of green building have since evolved. Additionally, the State of New Jersey has adopted newer versions of model codes in recent years, creating another reason for revisiting the Manual. Now, as then, the barrier that the Manual seeks to overcome is slow dissemination of what works into mainstream practice.
New and existing buildings in New Jersey continue to represent untapped potential in terms of energy efficiency, environmental performance, improved indoor air quality, and occupant comfort. Recent experiences, an increased awareness, and a deeper understanding of climate change impacts to the built environment as well as more instances of extreme weather, grid failures, and safety and security issues has garnered support for resilient design or “the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.” Buildings can play a pivotal role in keeping occupants safe and, ideally, comfortable during disruptive events, such as storm-related power outages. Many green building strategies enhance building resilience – e.g., daylighting, a tight building envelope, solar islanding. Guidance on the synergies of green and resilient buildings stands to benefit New Jersey policymakers, builders, insurers, building occupants and communities.
Likewise, advances in and the adoption of smart grid technologies, building automation systems, and smart sensors and controls have brought “smart” buildings to life in recent years. An emphasis on occupant health and wellness, and the reality that people spend most of their time indoors has sparked the movement towards buildings designed for active living and well-being. As a result, buildings, now more than ever, hold tremendous opportunity to advance green, resilient, smart, and healthy building objectives.
The Manual supports policy prerogatives concerning energy efficiency and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, including evolving smart grid and storage initiatives, along with the imperative of sustainable and resilient economic development.
Is this yet another green building program?
The Manual is not a stand-alone green building program nor does it intend to replace other green building programs and rating systems such as the USGBC LEED Rating System. It is a voluntary, web-based, educational resource that leverages existing, highly-researched and widely-piloted green building standards and rating systems to identify best practice strategies that are most relevant for new and existing commercial and residential buildings in New Jersey, along with specific building illustrations that draw upon Rutgers Center for Green Building’s own research. The 2019 update of the Manual includes a review of the following key resources, among others:
- Athena Sustainable Materials Institute
- ENERGY STAR
- General Service Administration (GSA) – Sustainable Facilities Tool
- International Living Future Institute – Living Building Challenge
- International WELL Building Institute
- National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) -Whole Building Design Guide
- New Jersey Clean Energy Program
- Passive House Institute US
- The RELi resilience rating system
- Resilient Design Institute
- The Sustainable SITES Initiative – SITES Rating System
- US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Indoor AirPlus
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – WaterSense
- US Green Building Council (USGBC) – LEED Rating Systems including LEED Resilient Design pilot credits
- US Green Building Council (USGBC) – The Center for Resilience
 Krogmann, U., Minderman, N., Senick, J. and Andrews, C.J. “Life-Cycle Assessment of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Center for Environmental and Scientific Education Building”. 2008. Prepared by Rutgers Center for Green Building for New Jersey Meadowland Commission. At http://rcgb.rutgers.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/LCC-Final-Report-5-21-08.pdf