SSP Recognized for Green Building Toolkit
SSP Architectural Group has been recognized by Somerset County for their role in developing The Somerset County High Performance Public Buildings Program, a public policy document that incorporates the most relevant aspects of the LEED program, into a tailored program specific to Somerset County. The publication consists of three sections; The Policy and Implementation Model guides public officials toward the adoption of a green building program; the Building Program Toolkit provides guidelines for implementation for building code officials, municipal engineers, and administrators; and the Program Requirements serves as the summary of building performance goals.
This “Toolkit” is the first of its kind in New Jersey, and possibly in the country. The program establishes two primary goals:
LEED certification is based on a system that awards points in multiple categories, including sustainable sites; water efficiency; impact on energy and atmosphere; use of recycled materials and renewable resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovative solutions to environmental issues. High Performance is a “complete approach” to facilities design, operations, and performance, resulting in building maintenance and utility savings while maximizing productivity of those individuals working in the facility. It’s not as simple as adding a particular HVAC or window systems in isolation. All aspects of design, from building orientation, to architectural design and its supporting mechanical and lighting systems, have to be planned simultaneously at the outset. This “integrated design” doesn’t necessarily add to construction costs but it does result in direct savings on energy costs. Moreover, it results in healthier and more productive occupants. There is even market demand for high performance buildings, leading to higher rental rates. When the commercial development community is building high performance, you know it’s cost-effective and profitable, in addition to being the right thing to do.
Specific issues addressed in the Somerset County High Performance Public Buildings Program include window and room design to maximize available daylight; providing effective ambient lighting and individual task lighting; design for thermal comfort utilizing optimum temperature and humidity goals; reuse and recycling of construction waste; use of materials with recycled content, and the use of materials from local providers, thereby reducing a project’s “carbon footprint” attributable to materials transport.
Therein lies the greater reason for building green. The United States Green Building Council has said that the building sector is the major producer of CO2 emissions and that the construction of LEED certified buildings has the potential to reduce those emissions by 50%. The result is an immediate and measurable impact on the devastating effects of climate change on our planet.
The Somerset County High Performance Public Buildings Program is not a proprietary program. The Business Partnership anticipates that this methodology will be considered for adoption by other counties, agencies, and municipalities throughout New Jersey. Further, the Task Force encourages the County and municipalities to develop and adopt a more comprehensive sustainability plan to be added as an element to their master plan, addressing such issues as transportation pollution reduction and incentivizing neighborhood redevelopment projects to encourage sustainable practice.
Somerset County’s record of leadership and innovation continues with the Somerset County High Performance Public Buildings Program initiative. The Somerset County Business Partnership is addressing global problems on a local level with the potential for outstanding results. High Performance building is imperative. It is the organization’s mission to show the rest of New Jersey - and our country - that it can be accomplished economically, efficiently, and in partnership with the sustainability objectives of the state.
The Toolkit is available online at www.scbp.org/member/greenbuildings.html.