Letter to the Editor: AvalonBay Should Build to LEED Standards

Build for the 21st Century

To the Editor:

I read with great interest “Couple leading the way to sustainable products” by Huck Fairman (Packet, 6/22/12) about ParaTerra, a company which advises developers, architects, home owners, etc. about the many new, sustainable, money-saving products available across the country.  This is in response to a need and desire by many to build for the 21st century to lessen environmental impact including energy and water conservation and also benefit financially by doing the right thing socially.

Unfortunately, AvalonBay Communities, which proposes to build a 280 apartment monolithic structure on the old hospital site, lacks sufficient social conscience to go beyond a very limited sustainability effort and has outright rejected using LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Development) the certified standard which would leave a legacy of which Princeton could be proud. AvalonBay’s failure to adhere to its “Green Living…Sustainable Commitment” articulated on its website is yet another example of AvalonBay’s disregard of Princeton values, especially so since Princeton was pronounced by the state of New Jersey as a sustainable municipality because of its continuing efforts in this area.  One wonders why the residents of three AvalonBay Communities developments – two in California and one in Washington – have benefited from LEED certification and Princeton will not and why Princeton will not even benefit from LEED standards.

Could it be that AvalonBay Communities and its chief spokesman, Ronald Ladell has chosen to use a State loophole that lets them avoid LEED because of an affordable housing component in their proposed building despite the fact that Princeton’s Master Plan requires LEED?  If one watches Mr. Ladell closely during public meetings wherein LEED is discussed, you will see him mouth the words “cost generative” to Borough Attorney Chou. Yet to date Mr. Ladell has failed to demonstrate why AvalonBay should be exempted from Princeton’s Master Plan requirement for LEED.  There have been no cost analysis or comparisons and no projection of savings in the long term that would mitigate ‘cost generative’ measures during the construction phase.

What is at stake is that people of lesser means will not have the environmental benefits of sustainable building because AvalonBay has a short-term view to sustainability and environmental protection.  On average they retain their developments for 16 years and then sell leaving the residents of towns like Princeton with a less than sustainable monolith structure left behind.  This is unconscionable.  We all lose while AvalonBay ups their profit margin.

Kate Warren