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Green Globes Legislation Grows in Garden State: Will Proposed Tax Credit Act Follow?

The New Jersey Green Building Tax Credit Act of 2008 may soon give developers in the Garden State up to $20 million in annual tax credits that they’ll be able to apply to their state corporate, income, sewer, and water taxes. Under S1077, the bill containing the proposed legislation, the amount of credits that would be awarded for a particular project increases as the developer builds to higher levels of LEED certification, up to an additional six percent for LEED Platinum. Over the course of the seven-year program, the total amount of available credits could increase to $50 million. The bill is being sponsored by Essex County Assemblyman John McKeon (D), who hopes that it will be signed into law by July 1. However, given the state’s current financial predicament and Governor Corzine’s aggressive push to reign in finances, it’s likely that the bill will meet significant opposition in Trenton over the coming weeks.

It’s also important to note that as currently drafted S1077 does not provide any tax credits for projects that choose to follow any other green building rating system. We mention this because, late last month, New Jersey became the 12th state in the U.S. to incorporate the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes system into legislation. Last year, New Jersey mandated that all new public construction greater than 15,000 square feet must meet LEED Silver requirements. It’s unclear exactly how Green Globes was added to last year’s legislation, but the state now allows a two Green Globe rating to satisfy the original bill, which was enacted on March 5, 2007.

Ward Hubbell, head of GBI, noted in a January 28 press release announcing the legislation that “[b]y allowing more than one rating system, the state is providing more options geared to mainstream design and building professionals and, as a result, encouraging the accelerated adoption of green building practices. Policies such as this set an example we hope others will follow with their own sustainability initiatives.” We agree with Mr. Hubbell; gbNYC has frequently called for rating system flexibility among state- and municipal-level legislative schemes. It should be instructive to follow S1077 as it’s debated in Trenton and observe whether Green Globes is eventually similarly included in any green building tax credits that are ultimately offered in the Garden State.

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