Jersey City, New Jersey, is part of the New York metropolitan area and lies on the west bank of the Hudson River across from Lower Manhattan, where about 26% of its employed residents work. Jersey City has a population of 242,389 with a density of roughly 16,045.5 people per square mile across a total area of 21.1 square miles (14.9 comprised of land and 6.2 of water). Jersey City is a port city, commercial and industrial center, and transportation terminus, although parts of the city remain under-utilized after years of commercial inactivity.
Jersey City’s code devotes an entire chapter to “Green Building Standards.” Article I contains the Green Building Initiative for Municipal Projects. This ordinance requires that a LEED Accredited Professional certify that new municipal projects achieve, at a minimum, the LEED-NC Silver Rating and that all existing municipal buildings achieve, at a minimum, the LEED-EB Silver Rating (versions not specified). All municipal projects must also earn the U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR Building Label for their design and construction. However, an exemption does exist for existing municipal historic buildings. If the total cost for these new municipal projects to comply with the LEED or ENERGY STAR requirements exceeds the cost anticipated in the absence of such requirements by 20%, the Chief Architect must recommend such modifications to keep the costs within this amount, including a waiver of the requirements for LEED, ENERGY STAR, or both. In such a case, a LEED Accredited Professional must certify that the project achieved, at a minimum, the LEED-NC Certified Rating.
The Chief Architect must also review municipal projects in an existing building to determine if the cost of adhering to the LEED-EB Silver Rating or of achieving the ENERGY STAR building rate exceeds either (1%) of the building's current market value or $20,000.00. If so, or if the modification of an existing municipal building to achieve the LEED-EB Silver Rating is determined to be “impracticable” or to materially compromise the health, safety, or general welfare of the public, the city’s Business Administrator can waive the LEED and ENERGY STAR requirements, yet the project must achieve a minimum of a LEED-EB Certified Rating.
Article II contains Green Building Incentives in order to encourage private developers to voluntarily achieve some level of LEED certification. In order to be eligible for any of the incentives listed in this ordinance, projects for new construction must obtain at least 26 LEED points, and projects relating to existing buildings must obtain at least 32 LEED points. When a building plan proposes to meet the minimum level of LEED certification, the plan receives “priority review” status and the process is expedited. The ordinance provides for a system where projects that receive LEED certification from the USGBC can apply for a refund of building permit fees. The refund rate is a percentage scale where the refund amount increases with each higher level of LEED certification.