It’s tougher to identify New Jersey’s real estate mega-developers than it is New York City’s. This is in part because the Monsters of NYC Real Estate build One Bryant Park, while Jersey’s mega-developers are generally responsible for less glamorous buildings. Take the byoot of a building pictured with this post, the Meadowlands Exposition Center. (Rest assured that it is every bit as elegant on the inside as it is on the outside) This is not the sort of building that gets architecture critics into adjectival overdrive. It’s the sort of building in which one hosts a boat show. But Hartz Mountain Industries, the developers behind the Meadowlands Expo, are every bit a mega-developer — 200 properties and 38 million square feet of space, per their website — and are behind many of the biggest ongoing real estate projects in the Garden State. Which is to say that, gradations of mega-developer and Jersey inferiority issues aside, Hartz Mountain partnering with the EPA in greening its significant New York and New Jersey holdings is big news. You could even call it mega-news, but no one uses that expression, so it’d be weird.
Some of this was already in action before the EPA partnership was involved — for instance, that lovely picture of the Meadowlands Expo is no longer current, as much of the Expo’s 65,000-square-foot roof is currently covered with photovoltaic panels that generate 40 percent of the building’s electricity. But the scope of Hartz Mountain’s partnership with the EPA — which includes joining both the EPA’s Energy Star and Waste Wise programs, and following the agency’s GreenScapes and Clean Construction USA programs — is impressively comprehensive, and doubly so when the size of Hartz Mountain’s footprint is considered. While Stephen and I are always glowing with Jersey pride every time a Garden State company does something green, there’s a bigger satisfaction in knowing that 38 million square feet of office and commercial space is going to be lit, cooled, plumbed and powered more efficiently. Factor in the commitments to cleaner and more responsible construction practices — at least a LEED Silver standard on all new projects – from a company that practices a lot of construction, and it’s pretty close to inspiring. Until you remember what the Meadowlands Expo looks like. (We kid a bit too much, here: Hartz Mountain also operates the totally acceptable-looking Soho Grand and Tribeca Grand hotels in Manhattan, among other New York City real estate holdings)
Then again, that ugly old Meadowlands Expo roof is generating a lot of power these days, per New Jersey Newsroom’s Joe Tyrell, who reports that Hartz Mountain’s solar arrays prevent about 25 million tons of carbon from hitting the ionosphere. Seeing the beauty in ugly things is pretty much a prerequisite for New Jersey natives, and of course it can sometimes be difficult. Especially in Passaic County. But in the case of this beautiful new friendship between Hartz Mountain and the EPA, it’s actually pretty easy.