LEED 2009 Requires More Bang for Your Buck

LEED 2009 was rolled out by the U.S. Green Building Council this week. The new rating system seeks to do the following

  • make credits and prerequisites consistent across all commercial and institutional rating systems,  LEED commercial and institutional rating systems,
  • weight points based on the environmental impact each strategy will make on the project, and
  • incentivize the achievement of credits that address geographically specific environmental priorities. 

In essence, LEED 2009 now requires developers to earn more bang for their buck. Points are no longer awarded in a vacuum. Instead, the weighted point system ensures each building being certified meets a certain level of positive environmental impact. It should come as no surprise that the most heavily weighted credits are those involving energy use and CO2 emission.

 

The most interesting change (in this humble blogger’s opinion) is the new geographical bonus points. Previous versions of the LEED rating system did not take into consideration the geographical region of development. Each credit was awarded equally whether the project was located in downtown Los Angeles or located in downtown Denver (aside from certain Sustainable Site points for proximity to mass transit stations, density, etc). 

 

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Deadline to File Property Tax Appeals Extended to May 1st in Select Municipalities

In most municipalities, the deadline to file an appeal contesting a property’s assessment for property tax purposes expired on April 1, 2009. However, in those municipalities undergoing a revaluation and reassessment, the deadline to file an appeal may have been extended, in most instances until May 1st. Notice of the 2009 assessments should have been mailed on or around February 1, 2009. 

There is still time to consider the merits of filing a tax appeal to reduce your property taxes. Unfortunately, it is apparent that the trend for commercial and industrial property values continues downward. Property owners and existing tenants responsible for property taxes could be paying unfairly high property taxes. 

 

For more information, please review the following ALERT (.PDF) prepared by Fox Rothschild’s Tax Appeal Practice Group. 

 

All Hands on Deck! Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership, Inc. Releases a Report Commenting on New Jersey Energy Master Plan. New Jersey is Primed to Plant Itself as one of the Leaders of Energy Efficient Buildings, but at what cost?

On April 16th, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities accepted the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Inc.’s (“NEEP”) report entitled “An Energy Efficiency Strategy for New Jersey, Achieving the 2020 Energy Master Plan Goals. This report advances an ambitious agenda proposed by NEEP characterized by its statement that “an all-hands-on-deck approach” will be required to achieve the 2020 energy consumption reduction goals proposed by Governor Corzine’s Energy Master Plan. The NEEP report outlined ten strategies to direct New Jersey towards a path of a “new more sustainable energy future.”

In delivering its report, NEEP focuses on the N.J. Energy Master Plan’s goal to “place New Jersey at the forefront of a growing clean energy economy with aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy goals and action items, and the development of a 21st Century energy infrastructure.” Accordingly, the EMP proposes a reduction in projected energy demand by 20% in 12 years. The report predicts that New Jersey residences, businesses and institutions will realize collectively $16.8 billion in net savings by 2020. However, there will be an investment of $11.2 billion representing funds collected through the BPU rate structure and other sources, and $4.4 billion of direct investment by residents and businesses.

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New Jersey's Appellate Division holds that a landlord may not wrongfully withhold security deposits exceeding the statutory amount even where tenant has pets

In Reilly, et al. v. Weiss, (decided March 24, 2009) the Appellate Division considered the application of New Jersey’s Security Deposit Act where a landlord collected a security deposit of two and a half months’ rent because the tenant intended to keep cats in the leased premises. The Appellate Division concluded that the landlord could not justify collecting a greater security deposit amount than the one and one-half month’s rent, the maximum permitted by the Act, even if the tenant is maintaining a pet on the premises. The Appellate Division concluded that although the Security Deposit Act does not contain an express penalty for violating the maximum collectible amount, any monies that exceeded the maximum that were held by the landlord and not returned at the termination of the lease are monies that are subject to the punitive remedy of doubling the amount that is returned to the tenant pursuant to NJSA 46:8-21.1.

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S2485 - RELIEF FROM THE 2.5% FEE IMMINENT?

S2485 and A3738, a companion bill, were the Legislature’s response to Governor Corzine’s call for a modification on the 2.5% developers fee in his January State of the State address. Starting out as far-reaching legislation, S2485 emerged from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee in February modified significantly and reduced in scope. When introduced by Senator Lesniak in January, S2485 proposed a moratorium on the collection of the 2.5% fee under the A500, Non-Residential Fee Act (“Fee Act”), for 18 months with lost revenue to be replaced by appropriation from an existing housing fund. The bill proposed to exempt projects that received site plan approval prior to July 17, 2008 and to refund to developers fees paid under the Fee Act. For a summary of S2485 as initially proposed, see “S2485 - Immediate Relief for Developers. Is New Jersey Finally Waking Up?”, In The Zone, January 2009.

The Committee Substitute was passed by the Senate on March 16 by a 36 to 0 vote. It will temporarily exempt the following non-residential development from the Fee Act:

 

  1. non-residential property which has received preliminary or final site plan approval prior to July 1, 2010;
  2. non-residential planned development for a general development plan or non-residential development for which a developer has entered into a developer’s agreement or for which a redeveloper has entered into a redeveloper’s agreement;
  3. a project referred pursuant to Section 31 of the Municipal Land Use Law by a governmental agency prior to July 11, 2010; and
  4. a non-residential property for which a site plan application has received approval prior to July 1, 2010.
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Chapter 91 - Stealth Killer of Meritorious Commercial Tax Appeals

In a time when opportunities abound for real property tax appeals of excessive assessments, owners and tenants should pay close attention to Chapter 91 requests issued by municipal assessors. Named after a State law, Chapter 91 has claimed many a worthy appeal filed with the Tax Court and the County Boards of Taxation over the years. It is recommended that any taxpayer contemplating tax relief and seeking a reduction in property taxes for non-residential property carefully scrutinize Chapter 91 requests.

 Chapter 91, also called N.J.S.A. 54:4-34, allows a municipal assessor to mail a request to the addressee of record to complete a summary of the income and expenses for an income-producing property – the so-called I&E statement. The I&E statement is in a prescribed format; it, along with a summary or copy of Chapter 91 must accompany the assessor’s request. Failure on the part of the assessor to follow this procedure may give a taxpayer an “out.” 

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