AIA NJ Supports NJ Re-entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

January 30, 2018

As licensed architects, we are all working to advance quality of life and protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. AIA NJ stands for a sustainable future. The efforts of our statewide professional committees reinforce our commitment to our Value Statements. Our Committee on the Environment (COTE) is devoted to educating our members and the public on making responsible choices to protect all of us, future generations and the planet. AIA NJ and COTE support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

On January 29, 2018, www.politicopro.com announced that NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order to re-enter the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The move will kick off the process to rejoin the cap-and-trade program from which former Governor Chris Christie withdrew in 2011.

“It signaled a retreat from a comprehensive and collaborative effort to curb the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change,” Murphy said of Christie’s decision to leave the program. “It was a decision that frankly lacked any common sense. So, no more. It is time for New Jersey to lead again.”

Currently, nine mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states participate in RGGI, not including New Jersey. The initiative sets a cap for carbon dioxide emissions from power plant operators, who then must buy a certain number of credits permitting them to emit a designated amount of greenhouse gas.

Operators whose emissions come in below the cap can sell or trade credits at RGGI auctions held throughout the year. Those who can’t meet the target can buy more credits to keep emitting. Proceeds from the auction either go back to the state government to give back to residents or are invested in clean energy initiatives.

New Jersey will now have to begin discussions with RGGI, Inc., and the participating states, to set a state cap that fits within the framework of the program at-large.

There are also three pieces of RGGI legislation moving in the Senate.

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee advanced a bill, NJ S611 (18R), last week that would prevent a governor from ever unilaterally withdrawing from the program again, without first obtaining consent from the state legislature.

The other two pieces of legislation — NJ SCR40 (18R) and NJ S612 (18R) — would ensure the proceeds generated from RGGI are only spent on clean energy initiatives like electric vehicles.

AIA NJ’s President, Verity Frizzell, AIA, LEED AP +BD+C had these comments:

“Yesterday’s move by Governor Murphy to re-enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a step in the right direction to address climate change.  With 130 miles of coastline and over 1700 miles of tidal areas, New Jersey is very vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge as we saw in Superstorm Sandy.  Reducing the amount of carbon emissions from power plants addresses a major contributor to climate change.  Ensuring the proceeds from the RGGI program are spent only on clean energy initiatives is another crucial step to encourage the use of renewable energy in multiple arenas.

As stewards of the built environment, architects are responsible for ensuring that carbon neutral design is standard practice by 2030.  AIA New Jersey applauds efforts to promote passive design techniques, energy efficiency measures, embodied carbon reduction strategies, and renewable energy in every project, and Governor Murphy’s action to cap carbon emissions is commendable.  We stand ready to act as a resource for lawmakers on any issue concerning the building sector, from zoning and codes to energy efficiency and disaster assistance.”

AIA NJ COTE is currently welcoming new committee members. To become more active, please contact COTE Committee Chairman, Jason Kliwinski, AIA, at designs4life.jason@gmail.com.

 

About AIA and AIA New Jersey

 

Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through a dynamic network of more than 250 chapters and more than 90,000 member architects and design professionals, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. The organization’s local chapter, AIA New Jersey, has served as the voice of the architectural profession in the Garden State since 1900. Based in Trenton, AIA New Jersey has 2,000 members in six local sections. For more information, please visit http://www.aia-nj.org.

 

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