How New Jersey is Leading the Charge in Sustainable Building

By April Mason

All New Jersey residents have heard the jokes about the Garden State.

“You live in New Jersey? What exit?” Funny stuff. (And for the record, we’re off Exit 148.)

But we also know our state gets a bad rap—especially when it comes to smart, sustainable development. That’s because NJ is leading the charge as home to some of the country's greenest projects. Developers are reinventing decaying urban centers, creating live/work/play spaces and building offices powered by solar, wind and water.

Here are some of the state's most notable sustainable developments underway now (or just complete):

804 Carnegie Center West, Princeton


Home to some of the world’s smartest students, Princeton is the ideal location to develop one of the world’s smartest office buildings. The new building on the Carnegie Center Campus in Princeton, New Jersey, was recently awarded LEED® certification at the Platinum level–the highest level of distinction awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Designed by Jacobs Engineering, the 130,000-square-foot office space was engineered with high-performance glass fabricated by J.E. Berkowitz (JEB). The glass was designed to insulate and limit solar heat gain, which cuts down on energy costs. The building also features 10,000 square feet of solar panels, rainwater and daylight harvesting systems, a green roof, two wind turbines, and more than 30 charging stations for electric vehicles.

On3 Science Center, Nutley

When pharmaceutical giant Hoffman-LaRoche left Nutley in 2012, thousands of jobs were eliminated. Now, Prism Capital Partners has a plan to bring those jobs back with its On3 Science Center, designed to become a next-generation "new urbanist" lifestyle hub.

According to principal, Eugene Diaz, “On3 seeks to incorporate living, working and playing in the Route 3 site.”

They will do so by creating a mini-metropolis for life sciences companies. The state has already approved $16.9 million in tax credits to develop the site. Hackensack Meridian Hospital and Seton Hall University are collaborating to open the state’s first new medical school in 50 years on the new campus.

More work remains to be done. But when finished, On3 Science Center promises to be a jewel in New Jersey’s sustainable redevelopment crown.

Timber Tower, Newark


The citizens of Newark are prepared for a comeback! The city has steadily been adding jobs in the last few years and made the short list for Amazon’s HQ2. 

As if that weren’t enough, Lotus Equity Group recently unveiled plans for a 500,000-square-foot wooden skyscraper on the site of the old Newark baseball stadium. Designed by Michael Green Architecture, the site will feature two million square feet of office space, 2,000 residential units and public open spaces. The structure will be designed with timber panels to provide better light and acoustics inside the building and produce a smaller carbon footprint.

The project marks the beginning of a new vision for sustainable construction and modern architecture in the Brick City.

High Tech High School, Secaucus


Opening this month, this new school will become the gold standard for high schools across the country. Designed by RSC Architects, High Tech High School will feature four academies: School of Culinary Arts, School of Architecture and Engineering, School of Applied Sciences and School of Performing Arts. 

The modern educational institution will meet all the highest LEED standards to reduce greenhouse gases and minimize wastewater through water-efficient landscaping and bathrooms. The school also features a hydroponic rooftop garden for students to grow their own food to be used in the culinary kitchen lab.

According to Jeff Schlect of RSC Architects, "Our eco-friendly design utilizes geothermal heating and includes wind turbines that will also be used as a teaching tool within the school’s curriculum.”

It’s the perfect space for modern learning.

Unilever NA Headquarters, Englewood Cliffs


Completed in May 2018, Unilever’s new 325,000-square-foot headquarters in Englewood Cliffs was designed to attract the next generation of environmentally friendly, efficiency seeking millennial workers.

Designed by OVG Real Estate and Perkins+Will, the new “Unilever Marketplace” reduces operating costs by 20 percent, potable water demand by 50 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent and total energy consumption by 50 percent — all while providing 28 percent more usable space than before.

With an onsite fitness and wellness center, shuttles to and from Manhattan and Hoboken, and an Instagram-friendly aesthetic, Unilever has set the standard for the workplace of the future.

2 Market Street, Passaic


It should come as no surprise that development company, StoneGate, is working on a project in Passaic. After all, the company has a history of building in overlooked areas. Its latest project involves taking the 70,000-square-foot abandoned warehouse at 2 Market Street and transforming it into a fantastic live-work environment for young professionals. When it is complete, the development will house 63 loft-style units and feature 4,200 square-feet of commercial space, including a rooftop restaurant and parking structure.

The project helps the city fulfill its goal of converting empty industrial space into healthy living environments. The city and StoneGate are also collaborating to develop a new passive recreation and environmental restoration site that contributes to the overall walk-ability of Passaic.

What’s next?

Keep an eye on the Ice and Iron Railway currently being proposed by officials in Montclair and Jersey City. The project aims to connect Montclair to Jersey City through walking/bike trails and a rail line. The project has received a lot of praise from local officials, which makes it one to watch in 2018.

Did I miss anything? What other green projects are underway in the great state of New Jersey? Let me know in the comments below.

April Mason has spent the last two decades developing public relations campaigns for clients in the economic development, real estate and hospitality industries. Her Montclair, NJ-based agency, Violet PR, focuses on generating favorable media exposure for communities and companies reinventing urban areas, building sustainable projects and growing businesses. 

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