New Jersey Passive House stepping into policy space

The New Jersey Government has ramped up its activity on setting in motion policies targeted at reducing the state’s carbon footprint. This has always been important but now is crucial since research has shown climate change is affecting NJ more than most other states!

On September 16th New Jersey Passive House submitted our detailed comments on the NJ Energy Master Plan Draft iterating how Passive House building methodology is one of the strongest tools currently available in the market to fight climate change:

  1. It leads to building energy use reduction of between 50%-80%, currently unchallenged by any other methodology.

  2. It is 'net-zero ready', improving the economics and resiliency potential of such measures. Each solar panel goes a much longer way at fulfilling the energy needs of Passive House buildings due to their extremely low loads.

  3. It’s unprecedented performance is coupled with strict occupant wellness requirements ensuring long term health and comfort.   

  4. It’s qualities rely heavily on quality of design, workmanship and field verification, driving the development of the State's skilled energy efficiency workforce.

We audibly applauded the NJ Government for committing to an energy master plan and encouraged the further development of elements that can support Passive House and Sustainable buildings in general, including green finance, building with materials with lower inherent carbon and facilitating access to high quality low energy use homes for low and moderate income New Jersey residents.     

This week another important milestone in the outreach to New Jersey residents and stakeholders was reached as the State government opened public commenting on the Energy Efficiency Transition. This 5-page document outlines implementation targets following Governor Phil Murphy's signing of P.L. 2018, c. 16 (C.48:3-87.3-87.7)  into a law, requiring  public utilities to reduce their energy use by 2% every year.

This is great, but we can do better - by reducing energy at a rate of 2% a year, we would reduce less than 20% in 10 years, still light years away from our 80%-100% targets.  If we don't tackle the energy use of buildings also, it is going to get harder and harder to meet these targets. We now have windows of opportunity with every single new and renovated building to reduce so much more! We encourage you to submit your own comments to this plan at the NJ Clean Energy Portal. Hurry, as comments are due this Friday, October 4th!!!

Some sample points and ideas:

  1. Utilities should, in addition to meeting their 2% quota, participate in supporting pilot projects aiming at ultra-energy efficiency and net zero, such as Passive House projects. A starting quota of 50 pilots a year, or 1,000,000 square feet, gradually ramping up for each utility territory is an achievable target!

  2. Encourage utilities to implement a considerable portion – 50% at least - of their annual energy reduction in low and moderate income communities.

  3. Mandate an energy analysis of buildings with easy to understand metrics when there is a change of ownership. This will help consumers to understand how their building performs and what they are buying.

  4. Provide a mechanism to encourage heating electrification via the electrical rate structure.

  5. Incentivize training of design and construction professionals to help rebuild New Jersey, which would be a great way to implement Gov. Murphy’s slogan of “The State of Innovation” right from the ground up.