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24 APRIL 2023
building technology, which incorporates sensors that automatically turn lights on and off based on occupancy and control water use in bathrooms, ventilation, heating, cooling and more. Energy- efficient lighting and HVAC equipment are mainstream these days as well. Implementing a computerized building automation system that monitors and controls major systems can have a big impact on energy savings. Such a system can also help make decisions about changes in
the building’s operations and other energy-reduction investments.
For the balance of the CRE community, which includes
owners, asset managers, investors, professional firms, contractors — anyone who owns property, has a business and has employees — you can implement hybrid work schedules where the business facility closes for one or two days per week to reduce energy and automobile traffic.
Being the organic naturalist, there
is one more approach I recommend: “Go native.” When landscape planning your properties, choose plants
that attract pollinators and birds. Most food crops in the U.S. are not pollinated by honeybees, but rather by little bugs, beetles and insects
that many consider a nuisance.
Native plants are important because they provide food and habitat for insects and birds. They are also
easy to grow and maintain because they’re adapted to our climate
and soil. Try perennial plants like inkberry holly (Ilex glabra) cultivars instead of boxwoods. Try black eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
or false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) instead of annuals.
Try bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Pennsylvania sedge
(Carex pensylvanica) or bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis) instead of pachysandra. For more information on native plants, contact Rutgers Cooperative Extension (, Jersey Friendly Yards ( or your local county extension office.
Should you really want to stand out, you can follow the guidelines from the Monarch Waystation Program and plant milkweed. The hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies that annually migrate between Mexico and Canada and the U.S. rely on the nectar from milkweed
to sustain themselves. Herbicides and development have depleted
this food source and threatens their existence in the U.S. You can even have your monarch habitat certified as an official Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch. Your habitat will be included in the Monarch Waystation Registry, an online listing of Monarch Waystations worldwide, and you
will be awarded a certificate bearing your name and your habitat’s unique Monarch Waystation ID number. You may also choose to purchase a metal sign that identifies your monarch habitat as an official Monarch Waystation. This display helps convey this important monarch conservation message and will simultaneously impress your employees and tenants.
Undoubtedly, we can all do a better job to raise awareness regarding mankind’s impact on the global climate and how, collectively, we can affect positive change. As cited above, commercial real estate developers and property owners are indeed taking steps to ensure that the goal
of Earth Day is being achieved, as evidenced by widespread initiatives in green design and sustainable building practices.
(Portions of this article were obtained from: 8 Sustainability Trends Driving Commercial Real Estate for Earth Day 2022 by The Robert Weiler Co.)
MICHAEL MCGUINNESS is CEO of NAIOP New Jersey and has led the commercial real estate development association since 1997. NAIOP represents developers, owners, asset managers and investors
of commercial, industrial and mixed-use properties, with 830 members in New Jersey and over 19,000 members throughout North America. RE
One of the things I learned when
I was a Boy Scout was to always leave your campsite better than you found it. Clean up any trash and don’t disturb the area more than necessary for pitching your tent and building a fire
for cooking and
staying warm.
It might also
mean leaving
some chopped
for the next
camper. That
concept has remained with me, and I’m reminded of it whenever I’m encouraged to “reduce, reuse and recycle.” What a great lesson and advice for all of us to help celebrate this year’s Earth Day on April 22.
When it comes to commercial real estate development, our industry has done and continues to do a commendable job improving (and not worsening) the environment. Take, for example, the many cleanups of contaminated sites thanks to redevelopment. The enactment of the Site Remediation Reform Act in 2009 established
the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) program, which fundamentally changed remediation in New Jersey. With the goal of reducing the threat of contamination to public health and the environment, the LSRP program has accelerated the cleanup and return of contaminated properties to productive use. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, at the end of 2021,
the Site Remediation and Waste Management Program reported 14,461 contaminated sites. Of these, 11,205 were active LSRP cases.
Perhaps one of the best measures of the industry’s success in reducing the contamination threat is the
total of cases closed by issuance
of a final remediation document. Final remediation documents can be issued for areas of concern at
a contaminated property, such as
removing an underground storage tank, or for entire commercial and industrial properties. From 2009 to 2021, nearly 60,000 cases were closed. But more recently, this effective program has run into challenges, including a slowdown in the review and processing of applications, reopeners and lack of closure.
NAIOP New Jersey, along with other business and industry groups, have met with and are working with
DEP to find a solution. Part of the problem may be a lack of clarity
on DEP’s jurisdictional limits, an exodus of seasoned staff and subpar submissions from some LSRPs.
Another widely used CRE practice is installing solar panels on warehouse and other commercial building
roofs. Beyond reducing a building’s carbon footprint by substantially lowering the power needed to operate, heat and cool the building, these installations may also help low-income residents enjoy reduced energy bills through so-called community solar arrangements. The Solar Energy Industries Association ranks New Jersey as the seventh- highest solar state in the nation. The Garden State’s attractiveness for solar power is due to its many favorable clean energy laws and its 206 days
of sunshine each year. However, according to Google’s Project Sunroof, New Jersey has achieved a fraction of its solar potential.
CRE developers are also embracing adaptive reuse where it makes sense. The retention and rehabilitation
of existing buildings reduces the consumption of building materials, for which availability problems
and costs have risen dramatically. The retention and rehabilitation of existing buildings also reduces the consumption of other resources, such as energy and water. Despite this and the cost-savings from reducing the need for demolition and debris removal, adaptive reuse is a labor-intensive process that requires a close case-by-case evaluation.
Most newer buildings use smart
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