Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
Ocean County, N.J.–The description sounds ordinary enough: Stafford Park Apartments consists of five buildings featuring 112 one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts. The development is part of a much larger, 370-acre mixed-use redevelopment in southern Ocean County, NJ, not far from the Garden State Parkway, called Stafford Park. The apartments were completed in October 2009.
Yet this property, developed by locally based Walters Group, is distinctive. It’s the first in the state of New Jersey to win LEED gold certification.
Recently MHN had a conversation with Edward Walters Jr., founder and partner at the Walters Group, about the property and his firm’s further plans for building another multifamily property at Stafford Park that will be entirely solar powered.
MHN: Why did you decide to go for LEED gold on this particular project?
Walters: Our plan for the entire Stafford Park redevelopment, which is a Brownfield site, is to be LEED silver for every part. During the process of analyzing with our architects and mechanical engineers what we needed to do for the Stafford Park Apartments, we determined that we could do gold, which no other apartment community in the state had done. But that was the best we could do. Platinum was unachievable — or at least a lot more expensive in every area. Still, we found that if we pushed the envelope we’d been able to get enough points to be silver.
MHN: What goes into a multifamily LEED silver structure?
Walters: It’s transit-oriented, built on a Brownfield site, uses solar energy, and we did a good job of recycling all the construction debris. We also sourced materials within 500 miles as much as was possible. The spray-foam insulation’s good, and we got every point we could for the air quality in the buildings, using low-VOC paints and low VOC-glues. We used hardy plank cement-board siding as opposed to vinyl siding, which is a little more expensive, but also more environmentally sensitive.
Also, solar supplies 100 percent of the common area electricity—a 183-kilowatt system that supplies all the lighting for the clubhouse and the stairwells and other areas.
MHN: Solar is important in the next multifamily property at Stafford Park?
Walters: Yes. We’re in the process getting a 216-unit market rate community approved right now in Stafford Park. To go with it will be a 6.5 megawatt solar farm, and those 216 apartments are going to be 100 percent electric, which is in turn going to be 100 percent solar powered — heating, cooling, cooking, hot water, clothes washing, everything. It’s going to be one of the first, if not the first, community of its kind in the country.
We don’t have a name for the apartments yet, but they’ll be under the Stafford Park umbrella. We’re looking to start building the apartments next spring, but we’ll start the solar farm this fall.