Sponsored by a trio of Assemblymen, namely Ruben Ramos, John McKeon and Wayne DeAngelo, a package of bills governing so-called “blue roofs” and “green roofs” has started to make its way through the Legislature. Three of these bills, A3680, A3681 and A3682, are discussed briefly here.

First, Assembly bill A3680, directs the Department of Environmental Protection, among other things, to adopt regulations requiring “any new development to incorporate blue roof or green roof technologies to limit the release rate of stormwater runoff[]” and to give priority consideration to any application for a permit, grant, loan or any other authorization filed with the DEP that involves a blue roof or a green roof. The term “development” is defined broadly under the bill to include any subdivision of lands, new construction or alteration of existing structures, mining excavation or landfill and any use or change in use of any building or other structure or extension of use of land for which permission is required under the Municipal Land Use Law. Only agricultural development is expressly excluded from this definition. The “blue roof” and “green roof” concepts are also specifically defined under the bill.

The remaining two bills from the package that we selected for discussion here relate to financing. One of these, Assembly bill A3681, requires any new building, facility or structure receiving financial assistance from either the Economic Development Authority or the State, which is to be constructed after the bill’s effective date, “shall be designed, constructed, and managed to include a functioning green roof or blue roof.” The effective date of this bill is proposed to occur on the first day of the thirteenth month following the date of enactment.

The other, Assembly bill A3682, amends and supplements N.J.S.A. 26:2C-45, et seq. – the law that authorizes New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and establishes the Global Warming Solutions Fund (GWSF). Under this bill, the conservation of water and the improvement of stormwater management through the construction and acquisition or installation of green roofs are added to the list of items for which monies contained in the GWSF may be utilized. In this regard, the State Treasurer is authorized under the bill to establish a new account within the GWSF known as the “Blue and Green Roof Revolving Loan Account” from which annual appropriations may be made to finance, among other things, the blue roofs and green roofs loan programs created by the bill. Specifically, under Section 3a of Assembly bill 3682, the DEP in consultation with the DCA is directed to set up “a program to provide loans to owners of single family residences to assist them in financing the cost of . . . a blue roof or green roof on the residence.” Section 3b of the bill requires the DEP to work with the EDA to institute a similar loan program for commercial, institutional and industrial entities.

All three of the above-referenced blue roof and green roof bills were reported out of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee with amendments and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on February 10, 2011. Each of these bills has also been introduced in the Senate.  Should Assembly bills A3680 and A3681 pass both houses of the Legislature and be signed into law, they will likely make building, renovating or using just about anything in connection with real estate more expensive. Therefore, in the event that occurs, hopefully the Legislature will also enact Assembly bill A3682, so that developers may have an easier time underwriting compliance with any ensuing blue roof or green roof design and installation requirements.