Barnegat, N.J.–The Walters Group has finished construction on New Jersey’s first LEED-Gold certified, affordable housing community, Stafford Park Apartments.
Each detail of the Stafford Park redevelopment has been designed with energy conservation in mind, according to Jon Jensen, technical consultant for MaGrann Associates. The Moorestown-based energy consulting and design firm worked with the Walters Group on the LEED criteria, inspecting the Stafford project at various stages of construction, then performing the final inspections required for certification.
Plans for the 370-acre mixed-use project integrate housing, affordable non-age restrictive housing units, office space with a number of municipal facilities, and a large-scale retail complex. Stafford Park Apartments is situated adjacent to a retail complex.
“Durable, healthy, and efficient are the underpinnings of LEED construction,” explains Jensen. The Stafford Park development was “green” from the start, with MaGrann Associates providing energy modeling of the plans and developing a list of criteria to achieve Energy Star and LEED for Homes certifications. “It’s one of our highest performing projects,” Jensen adds. “The Walters Group is working on this in a serious and concerted fashion, and it’s evident in their level of achievement.”
Stafford Park Apartments consists of five multi-story buildings, featuring a selection of 112 one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts with rents ranging from $468 to $1,207 per month. The apartment community is part of the large-scale Stafford Park redevelopment, located in southern Ocean County, just off Exit 63 of the Garden State Parkway. A grand opening for the apartments was held in the fall of 2009.
“Building ‘green’ is an opportunity for us to use our resources more efficiently while creating healthier environments for people to live in,” says Ed Walters, Jr., founder and partner of the Walters Group.
The Stafford Park Apartments earned LEED points for features such as:
- Spray foam insulation
- High efficiency on-demand hot water heaters
- Mechanical ventilation
- Low VOC adhesives, sealants and paints
- MERV 11 – very high air filtration effectiveness
- Sealed combustion appliances
- Recycled content, environmentally preferable, and local materials
- Photovoltaic panels to supply common area electricity
- Drought tolerant plants
- High efficiency irrigation
- 63% of the construction waste stream was diverted from landfills or incinerators
- Permanent walk off mats at each entry to reduce indoor environmental contamination
Among the many rewards for reducing their carbon footprint is energy savings. Walters estimates that their natural gas costs are reduced by about 35 percent and electric usage by nearly 40 percent compared to regular building design.
“Green construction is about doing a good or better job at what you would expect builders to be doing anyway,” explains Jensen. “We work with builders to refine and improve these processes and help them take credit for producing high-quality, efficient, durable buildings that are healthy to live in.”
Framing, durability, and HVAC efficiency are the three critical components MaGrann Associates focuses on in the early design stage of any project, according to Jensen. In fact, durability is one of the biggest challenges for developers and a prerequisite for LEED certification. “Nationally in 2005, about 15% of the new homes that were delivered that year were found to have significant defects. Going forward, durability will have the biggest impact on value,” he adds. Buildings designed according to LEED guidelines are durable, reduce energy usage, reduce landfill waste, and provide a healthier indoor environment.
Solar and wind energy are also part of the developer’s overall renewable energy effort at Stafford Park. Solar panels have been installed on many of the rooftops to supply solar electricity to the common areas, according to the developer. Currently, the development has three separate solar systems equaling over 1 MW (mega-watt). “This is a good long-term strategy for maintaining the affordability of the apartments,” explains Jensen. The potential for wind turbine energy is also evaluated with a temporary 60-meter wind power test tower. Eventually, the firm hopes to initiate a wind power project at Stafford Park.