New Jersey 50th State to Adopt Sub-Metering for New Construction Multi-Family Properties

New regulations reflecting the Christie Administration’s environmental and energy conservation policies are beginning to emerge, as the NJ Board of Public Utilities approved a petition submitted by the  New Jersey Apartment Association (NJAA) for approval of water sub-metering in newly constructed multi-family properties on Thursday.   

New Jersey becomes the 50th state to allow renter households to pay only for their own usage of utilities, rather than all of the households in a building absorbing the entire burden regardless of consumption.  New Jersey’s new sub-metering provision is limited to water-related usage, which is expected to be reduced by 15% or more in sub-metered buildings, following the experience of other states studied by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This approval is the culmination of more than eight years of active engagement by the NJAA with the Board Commissioners and professional staff, and is one of the first energy policy recommendations from the Lt Governor’s bi-partisan Red Tape Review Commission Report to be enacted.  The need to re-visit New Jersey’s restrictive policy on sub-metering in rental housing was listed as a specific policy recommendation in the Lt Governor’s bi-partisan Red Tape Report of April 2010.  NJAA received support from 15 state Legislative leaders as well as Plan Smart NJ, a leading planning and land use organization, who voiced support for the Board’s approval of the petition,

“Approval of sub-metering by the Board of Public Utilities is a win for renters, a win for property owners, and a win for the environment,” said Jean Maddalon, Executive Director of the NJAA. “Education is key to any efforts to conserve our natural resources, and with sub-metering we can help educate residents on their personal water usage habits. Better knowledge of personal usage habits leads to better personal decision making and advances conservation.”

Multi-family property owners in New Jersey have long sought to employ new technologies to advance water conservation and help educate renters on their personal consumption practices. Forty-nine of the fifty U.S. states allow sub-metering, and New Jersey has been the remaining hold-out in approval of this proven and reliable conservation technology.

“Sub-metering offers many benefits and no downside. The successful implementation of sub-metering will lead to significant conservation benefits, including water use reduction of 15%.  Equally important, we hope sub-metering of new buildings will lead to greater understanding and broader use of the benefits of this proven technology as a conservation tool,” says John Cranmer, Esq., partner in the law firm of Archer & Greiner, who crafted NJAA’s petition.

Clear evidence of the benefits of sub-metering was indicated in 2004 study by the EPA uncovering an average water savings of 15% after sub-meters were installed in multi-family rental communities by measuring individual in-unit consumption.  Dartmouth University also conducted a study that same year which identified savings of 20 to 32%. These studies indicate that sub-metering encourages people to conserve when they are fiscally responsible for paying the bill and held accountable for personal usage. Renters and property owners have a vested in conservation of our natural resources and sub-metering is a proven tool to advance greater conservation practices.

“New Jersey is famous for being a state at the cutting edge of environmental protection and preservation of our natural resources yet sub-metering was the exception to this long-stand record of promoting conservation. We are very pleased that New Jersey has joining the other 50 states in allowing sub-metering.,” says Conor Fennessy, Vice President Government Affairs of NJAA. “From the beginning, we have been a strong proponent of a sub-metering policy that is fair and equitable for both renters and property owners.

NJAA represents apartment owners throughout the state and fully supports sub-metering to end the waste of billions of gallons of water each year.