NJ Cool: EDA to offer grants (up to $1M) to help commercial buildings reduce greenhouse emissions

Much has been made of the costs to retrofit or convert commercial buildings to enable the buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. (You may have seen an ad campaign.)

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is working to do something about it.

On Thursday, its board approved the creation of NJ Cool, a $15 million pilot program that will provide grants to commercial building owners and tenants undertaking retrofit construction projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing commercial buildings.

The NJEDA will provide grants of up to $1 million to applicants for eligible hard construction costs for energy efficiency projects, such as updating a building’s heating and cooling system.

Applications are expected to open in 2024 and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Click here for more details.

The program will start as a pilot for projects in Atlantic City, Edison and Newark — three communities the state has identified as having a significant number of commercial buildings that will be potential applicants for the program.

They also are municipalities with high commercial energy usage, represent the different geographic regions of the state, and most critically are considered Overburdened Communities per the New Jersey Environmental Justice Law.

This pilot is funded by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative proceeds allocated to NJEDA under the RGGI Strategic Funding Plan: Years 2023-2025. It is the first investment of EDA RGGI funding to be allocated toward the plan’s Initiative One: Accelerate Healthy Homes and Building Decarbonization.

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan obviously is happy about the potential impact of the program.

“Under Gov. Phil Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is combatting the effects of climate change by supporting projects that will reduce our carbon footprint, creating a cleaner and greener state,” he said.

“The NJ Cool Program will help fund the transition of commercial buildings to clean energy systems in overburdened municipalities, which will improve the health of families and kids living in these communities. The program will also bolster New Jersey’s clean energy industry by creating jobs and strengthening our economy.”

The EDA, as it does on a regular basis, may seek approval to expand the pilot program in the future to include other municipalities — and add more money to the program.

In addition to reducing emissions, EDA officials hope the program will accelerate the adoption of more environmentally friendly building systems, technologies and construction practices within New Jersey.

Commercial buildings alone account for 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey.