Category Archives: Codes & Regulations

Information on codes and regulations that effect architecture in New Jersey.

Save the Date for AIA-NJ

Don’t forget to clear your calendar to attend these important AIA-NJ events…

April 27. AIA NJ Fellows Reception for Jerome Leslie Eben. RSVP here by 4/17/17.

May 19. NJ Re-Forum. Municipal Land Use Law. Details and registration here.

June 12. Architect’s Action Day. Event Flyer is here.

June 22. East Coast Green: Health, Safety & Wellness. Here is the itinerary.

August 1. Community Resilience Course. Limited capacity; register here.

November 9-11. Quad States. AIA NJ Design Conference is at this event! Click here.

Fire Sprinkler Legislation Introduced

As originally printed in NorthJersey.com:

, State House Bureau, @nickpugz

Prieto, Tedesco unveil long-awaited fire legislation

Two years after a devastating fire ripped through a large Edgewater apartment complex and destroyed the homes of some 500 people, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has introduced legislation intended to better protect residential buildings from fast moving blazes that can feast on wood construction.

The Democratic lawmaker from Secaucus, who is also a construction code official, appeared at the Edgewater Community Center on Friday alongside Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland, who spoke of the urgent need for two bills related to fire safety that Prieto quietly introduced last month.

“While we cannot prevent fires from starting, there are things we can do to prevent the spread of fire,” said Tedesco, a former firefighter who demanded fire safety reforms in his State of the County speech in February. “Together, these changes to the construction code will not only save lives of the residents in the event of a fire, but they’ll also save the lives of our firefighters and other first responders.”

Politicians, fire safety experts and citizen activists have been calling for changes to the state’s building code since Jan. 21, 2015, when an unlicensed maintenance worker using a blowtorch lit a piece of insulation on fire in the wall at the Avalon at Edgewater apartment complex on River Road.

What happened next, they say, proved New Jersey’s building code to be deficient. The flames were able to spread rapidly through the entire 240-unit building and, despite the efforts of first responders from more than 40 agencies, reduced everything but the concrete elevator shafts to rubble.

“We basically had an area the size of a city block engulfed in flames in a very, very, very short period of time,” McPartland recalled Friday. “Even though the apartment complex was equipped with sprinklers, the place literally burned to the ground and the residents lost everything they had.”

A very small price to pay’

Prieto’s first bill, A-96, which is co-sponsored by assemblymen Tim Eustace, D-Maywood, and Joe Lagana, D-Paramus, responds to a few key concerns that were raised in the wake of the Edgewater fire.

First, it would mandate that all concealed combustible spaces in wood-frame multi-unit residences — the type of buildings that thousands of New Jerseyans call home — be equipped with some sort of automatic fire-suppression system.

Currently, New Jersey’s building code doesn’t require sprinkler heads in such places as attics or the void spaces in floors and ceilings. In the case of the Avalon at Edgewater complex, that meant there was nothing to knock down the fire as it traveled through the building’s attics, walls and floor assemblies.

Second, the bill would tamp down on the use of “pedestal construction”  by developers. Typically, those are parking garages on which residential units are built that allow them to construct buildings with more floors than would otherwise be permitted under the code.

Firefighters say pedestals make it harder to reach flames and can put residents on upper levels out of reach of first-responders.

Third, the bill limits the size of wood-frame buildings without a robust fire suppression system to two floors and 10,000 square feet per floor. Any developer who wants more square footage would have to install masonry fire walls between attached buildings.

That provision is intended to constrain how large any one fire can grow.

Prieto described the measure as a middle-of-the-road approach that achieves enhanced fire protection while minimizing the impact on construction costs. He estimated that the new sprinkler mandate would cost developers about $1,000 per unit.

“That is a very small price to pay to be able to get this additional protection,” he said. “We have left in place for them to be able to build the right density and be able to keep building affordable housing.”

‘They’re playing the politicians’

But several people in attendance Friday said Prieto’s legislation doesn’t go far enough.

Edgewater Fire Chief Thomas Jacobson said he had hoped the bill would restrict the use of engineered wood — commonly referred to as “lightweight wood” — in residential buildings like the Avalon complex. Developers often prefer engineered wood because it’s cheaper and faster to assemble, but it also burns and collapses faster in the event of a fire.

“I still would rather see noncombustible materials used in buildings of that magnitude, you know, concrete, steel, something that’s not going to burn,” he said. “But at least the ball has started to be pushed in the right direction.”

Alexi Assmus, a citizen activist from Princeton who manages a Facebook groups called Massive Fires Damage Lives, criticized the bill for continuing to permit the construction of “mega-lot buildings” that, in the event of a fire, can result in multiple homes being consumed.

“The bill protects life safety, but it still doesn’t protect the loss of hundreds of homes in a single fire start,” she said. “You could still have a huge conflagration.”

She also dismissed the notion that lawmakers need to be so sensitive toward the building industry when crafting fire safety legislation. A recent state Supreme Court ruling that municipalities have to clear the way for the construction of tens of thousands of affordable housing units for low- and moderate-income residents, she said, is enough of a boon for developers.

“They’re able to build these very high-density apartments with combustible construction,” she said of New Jersey’s developers. “And everyone says, ‘Oh, affordable housing, we can’t do anything.’ They’re playing the public. They’re playing the judges. They’re playing the politicians.”

The second bill Prieto announced Friday, A-97, would require a fire safety expert to monitor any construction site where multi-unit residential buildings like apartments or hotels are being built.

Advocates have called for so-called “fire watches” in light of recent fires at an apartment complex under construction in Maplewood and elsewhere across the country.

June target for passage

Prieto, who works as a construction code official in Secaucus and Guttenberg, took more than two years from the time of the Edgewater fire to propose changes to New Jersey’s building code, saying he has been working for months to earn the buy-in of various interest groups and officials. Nonetheless, one of the bills he announced Friday was nearly identical to a measure, A-1914, that has been pending in the Legislature since December 2015, when it was introduced by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex.

Prieto said he intended to get both his bills through the Legislature by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

“This is a bill that I think will have overwhelming support in the Assembly, and the Senate will follow suit,” he said.

NJ Re-Forum Event Planned

AIA NJ Members…Land Use Law Reform discussion REGISTER TODAY

AIA New Jersey has signed on a part of the MLUL Reform Steering Committee and will be involved in the discussion.  Hope to see you there.

Municipal Land Use Law Re-Forum

Are you a municipal official, planner, developer, land use attorney, architect, or anyone else with an interest in local development who has found themselves frustrated by the ins and outs of the Municipal Land Use Law?  If so, join us for a Re-Forum where our open meeting format will allow participants to shape the agenda on what changes you’d like to see!

 

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Today marks the 106th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of New York City

On March 25, 1911, mere minutes before closing time, a fire broke out in a garment factory, just off of Washington Square.

triangle shirtwaist factory image

While the building was equipped with two fire escapes, one only opened inward and the other was locked from the outside to prevent theft. Of the four elevators, only one was operational. Fire sprinkler systems were available, but the owners avoided their installation in order to continue the practice of secretly starting their own off-hours factory fires to commit insurance fraud. With corrupt and unscrupulous owners such as these, a long history of greedy and irresponsible behavior in their past, the underpaid, exploited workers, mostly desperate and undocumented immigrant young women, stood little chance of survival.

Of the 500 employees, 145 died tragically, trapped inside the inferno, many jumping to their death from the 9th floor, rather than being burned alive.

Despite public outrage, the owners got off virtually scot-free, eventually paying the victims’ families a mere $75 per life lost, and continuing most of their outrageous, life-threatening business practices for years to come.

The most horrifying of the realities surrounding this incident is how many of these atrocities still exist today. Garment factories, and many other industries, in CA and NY, especially, still employ many of the same terror tactics to keep their employees powerless to protect themselves. Undocumented immigrants still dominate America’s lowest level work force, permitting them to fall through the cracks of labor law protection. Large cities are frequently understaffed and too overworked to make the necessary inspections, ensuring that every workplace is properly constructed and maintained to meet regulations for the safety of their employees. And when it is possible, very often city government corruption allows for criminal business owners to find ways around the requirements. On top of all of that, we hear almost weekly of another fire ravaging a community, taking lives, robbing people of their homes, possessions, workplaces and loved ones.

The 2017 AIA Statement of Values includes standing for equity and human rights. It includes standing for architecture that strengthens our communities. It includes speaking up to policymakers to protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of the public.

AIA NJ continues to work, lending expertise and information, writing white papers and influencing legislation, to do our part to protect society from potential future tragedies. Look for upcoming reports on our current efforts and actions on behalf of all of our members, or better yet, join a committee and lend your voice to the call!  We invite you, we challenge you, to be a part of the solution.

For a complete record of this tragedy, click here.

The PBS documentary can be found by clicking here.

Community Resilience Course

Community Resilience Course
Hosted by: AIA New Jersey
August 1, 2017
8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
AIA-NJ
Join us for our Community Resilience course and learn about the meaningful actions that you and your community can take to enhance resilience to natural hazards and of the opportunities available to incorporate these actions into professional practice. Increase your understanding about community resilience (CR) and how it can benefit hazard planning, including practices of how community resilience can be enhanced at the local level. Learn about resources and tools that can assist to identify the various components of risk and strategies for integrating community resilience into existing plans and programs.

 

Location
Holiday Inn East Windsor
399 Monmouth St.
East Windsor, NJ 08520

More Information
Click Here

Register
Please utilize the registration code: 15706

All interested participants must need create a NDPTC online profile to register for the course, the online profiles can be created here.

Once a profile is created, the interested participant can select the course delivery and register to attend. If you already have a profile please log in using your credentials and then register for the course.

AIANJ To Host Architect’s Action Day

Save the Date for:

AIANJ Architect’s Action Day

Where: Trenton, NJ

When:  June 12, 2017

More details on this event coming soon.
Architects, Associates, Students – save the date to participate in this inaugural event at the NJ State Capital.

AIANJ_ArchActionDay2017

The voice of AIA is making things happen for you and the environment

JOIN THE CHARGE! 

Status Report on Letter to Senate Committees & Call to Action:

AIAeagle_2016On January 15, 2017, the AIA Committee on the Environment Advisory Group crafted a petition to the DOE and EPA Senate Hearing Committees. AIA-NJ has participated in this effort, signing on for its promotion. Here is an excerpt: 

We, the undersigned architects, our colleagues, and sustainable design experts, recognize that our nation will need to make substantial changes in how we utilize our natural and energy resources if we are going to be able to compete in the 21st century and maintain livable environments for future generations.  We support governmental and private sector policy programs that promote the design, preservation, and construction of sustainable communities and high-performance buildings, they are consistent with our core values and professional and civic responsibilities. These programs provide jobs, cleaner air and water for everyone, and the kind of forward looking vision the world expects from America.”

YOU, TOO, CAN SIGN THE PETITION: Please click here

The AIA has sent us an update on the status: 

Dear Ben Lee, AIA

Thank you so much for signing the recent letter to the DOE and EPA Senate Hearing Committees. The response was overwhelming – 1089 signatures and counting! We’re writing to share the status of the letter plus seek your interest in continuing to advocate for the issues raised in the letter.

First, the good news is that the letter has been delivered and was well received. It was hand delivered to several local offices of Senators on the committees including Vermont, California, Washington, New York, and Massachusetts. In addition, last week several members of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Advisory Group gave copies of the letter at meetings on Capitol Hill to key staffers at the House Democratic Energy and Commerce Committee, Senate Democratic Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and to Senator Bernie Sanders’ staff.  The group shared information about the critical importance of the many EPA and DOE programs and resources to our work in achieving energy efficient and clean energy solutions which benefit both the economy and the environment. The staff response was very positive and they urged us to provide additional facts and data supporting the importance of these resources.

We are now organizing a network of architects and design professionals to continue to advocate for key issues concerning the design of the built environment at the federal, state and local levels. Our work has just begun! We welcome your participation in this advocacy effort.

If interested in becoming part of the COTE Advocacy network, please complete the form at this address: Please click here

 

ADVOCACY VALUE STATEMENT  

February 2017

AIAeagle_2016AIA New Jersey (AIANJ) is more important than ever as our country is going through transitions. Our profession has been respected by all because of our values and our commitment to improve the built environment. It is important for us to represent our membership to support or to defend these values.

 

AIA National has released 2017 Statement of our Values, AIA NJ is united in support of the national statement:

Value Statement 

In it we state our priorities:

  • We stand for equity and human rights,
  • We stand for architecture that strengthens our communities,
  • We stand for a sustainable future,
  • We stand for protecting communities from the impact of climate change,
  • We stand for economic opportunity,
  • We stand for investing in the future, and
  • We speak up, and policymakers listen.

Read more at AIA

 

AIA New Jersey

AIA NJ has our professional values that echoes the AIA National statement. As licensed Architects we are all working to advance the quality of life of built environment and protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. We also has our values formulated through the efforts of our PROFESSIONAL Committees. The following are the values and programs specifically developed in AIA NJ:

  • Sustainable Environment
  • Resiliency
  • Health & Wellness
  • Historic Resources
  • Homeland Security
  • Diversity & Women in Architecture

As we set our ADVOCACY agenda and priorities for 2017, the above values statement for AIA and AIA NJ are the most important issues for our MEMBERS.

Therefore, it is important that the Communication, Public Awareness, Legislative & Government Affairs and Membership committees all working toward the same goals.

Ben P. Lee,
AIA NJ President

Call to Action: Federal Historic Tax Credit

Call To Action:

Federal Historic Tax Credit in Danger of Repeal in Tax Reform

The incoming Trump administration and Speaker Ryan have prioritized moving tax reform legislation in the first 100 days of the new Congress, likely including eliminating tax credits and deductions.

The HTC is the most significant federal financial commitment to historic preservation. Over the last 36 years, the credit has created 2.3 million jobs, leveraged $117 billion in investment, and rehabilitated more than 41,250 buildings – all while generating enough in federal revenue to pay for itself.

Keeping the federal Historic Tax Credit is essential to a place like New Jersey.  Without it, we would loose the traction gained on complimentary state legislation that AIANJ has supported for several years – namely, the Historic Properties Reinvestment Act (HPRA).  HPRAwould piggyback on the HTC where commercial/income-earning projects are involved.  The vast majority of states in country (and all states that border NJ) already have credit programs like HPRA.  NJ’s substantial stock of older buildings cries out for this type of re-investment and the sensible growth it promotes.

the-victor-lofts-camden-nj-building-photo

Originally the RCA Victor Company’s Building 17, the Victor in Camden, NJ was made possible through the use of federal Historic Tax Credits about ten years ago

 

Contact your members of congress!

 
Call (during office hours) or email them!

Ask them to support the Historic Tax Credit as part of tax reform legislation that is expected to move through Congress. Explain the value of the HTC and ask your Members of Congress to express support to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), and other committee members.

 

Locate the name and address of your Representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Locate the names and addresses of your Senators here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state&Sort=ASC

This link (courtesy of Preservation Action) provides a Historic Tax Credit fact sheet with key points to share with legislators:

http://www.preservationaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/HTC-Factsheet-2017.pdf 

Thank you for doing your part to advocate for the HTC!

Half Moon Offers NJ IRC Building Code Seminar

Review the adoption and enforcement of the New Jersey Edition of the International Residential Code (IRC).

Learn about recent and anticipated code amendments.

Examine code requirements for building planning and shell construction.

Discuss energy efficiency requirements and compliance methods.

Explore code requirements for mechanical, fuel gas, plumbing and electrical systems.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Holiday Inn, Cherry Hill, NJ

Instructor Daniel Scott Mascione, AIA, LEEDap

6.5 HSW AIA Learning Units
Tuition:  $ 269 per registration

More information
Offered by HalfMoon Education