In recent years, being green has become more than just a trendy buzzword—for many Garden State HOAs, it’s now a way of life. More and more communities are adopting and implementing environmentally-sensitive policies, and intentionally using more eco-friendly products.
Taking a greener course makes sense for many residents, who see helping the environment and saving money for their association’s operating expenses as worthy benefits of using green practices in their communities. While many residents recognize the value in being environmentally friendly, and will often pay a premium to do so, some green measures can be implemented in a community without being prohibitively expensive. Not only board members and property managers, but average residents also can take advantage of the green programs available to help defray the cost of greening their developments. Starting the process is often as simple as going online, finding the pertinent information and applying for the program right then and there.
While some may feel that "going green" is such an over-used term these days, the federal, state and local government offer numerous incentive programs for single-family and multi-family homeowners to achieve some substantial savings when making energy-efficiency improvements.
According to Jason Kliwinski, AIA, LEED AP, the president the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ) and the director of sustainable design for the Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., there are programs for the small residential and larger commercial sector. "In New Jersey, it depends on the size of the building and there's bit of a gray area between low-rise and mid-rise residential here. Once you get over, I believe, it's three stories, you cross into the commercial sector."
For example, says Mary Sheehy, the administrator of the New Jersey Green Homes office, a division of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, homeowners associations cover many different building types. Of the available energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in New Jersey, most are building-based (determined by code definitions of building types): According to Sheehy, available resources will be determined on whether a property is composed of single-family (less than 4 units per building), low-rise (under 5 stories with no elevator), mid-rise (between 4 and 7 stories, with an elevator), high-rise (over 7 stories), master-metered buildings and/vs. individually-metered buildings. The NJ Clean Energy Program also divides programs based on utility energy/meter type: whether a building receives commercial or residential energy service.