Planning Board Eyes Efficient Buildings As Master Plan Goals Are Put Forth
Solar panelling on Township Hall? It may not sound all that far-fetched if Princeton's future development follows a recently-adopted set of goals by the Regional Planning Board of Princeton.
In an aim to improve the efficiency of future development in the community, the Planning Board discussed a list of goals that could effect building policy. The goals include developing structures that are more energy-efficient, minimizing waste, using alternative energy sources, and improving water conservation.
Opting to include a "sustainable building" element to the conservation plan in the Princeton Community Master Plan, the Planning Board has voted to abide by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. A voluntary set of standards, LEED-rated projects are registered, evaluated, and certified.
The system, said Planning Director Lee Solow, will result in "more green buildings." The goals are not legally-binding, but advisory, calling for new and remodeled buildings to be more efficient. They would contribute to the various environmental goals of conservation, protection, and enhancement, according to a report put out by the Planning Board.
So, while the Township Hall may not have solar panels on its exterior yet, the Borough of Highland Park's city hall does. And the same goal that is not out of reach, according to members of the Princeton Environmental Commission.
"What we are trying to do is show that Princeton is committed to environmental, economic, and social stewardship," said Wendy Kaczerski, a Borough member of the joint-municipal Environmental Commission. This commitment, she said, will yield "cost savings" to Borough and Township taxpayers in the long term through LEED certification.
"We are looking to provide healthy work environments," she said.
Ms. Kaczerski added that buildings marked "sustainable" would be using more natural daylight to curb electrical use, increasing indoor air quality, and reducing the impact on the environment from development construction.
The goals also refer to using locally-produced materials that would support the local economy and maintain "enhanced social interaction" during development and construction. Planning Board member Philip Feig questioned the necessity of those two elements. "Does that mean the community is going to sit at the table with architects and buildings I'm not sure that belongs in a master plan," he said.
Board member Marvin Reed supported the measure, saying that the increased "social" element on the developer's end would ensure a level of active participation.
"It's suggesting that the architect doesn't just sit in his office and that we get into a planning mode where architects feel more comfortable in interacting with the neighbors," he said.