Environmental needs for AvalonBay project

It is imperative that the following measures be included for the redevelopment of the hospital site by AvalonBay:

Heidi Fichtenbaum, Princeton
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the Princeton Environmental Commission because I care deeply about environmental issues; however, this letter is my opinion as a private citizen only.
   The challenges of climate change and the associated increase in storm intensity, require all future development in Princeton to strive for organic waste reduction, maximum energy conservation, resilient design and increased reliance on renewables.
   It is imperative that the following measures be included for the redevelopment of the hospital site by AvalonBay:
   LEED or Energy Star v3 certification.
   This requires high performing HVAC equipment, appliances, walls, roofs and windows. The proposed vinyl windows are a poor choice because vinyl has a high coefficient of thermal expansion. Over time, expansion and contraction from temperature changes loosen seals, and cause air leakage cracks which add up to significant heat loss and gain. Windows with an air leakage of 0.30 or less should be selected. Fiberglass windows are often found in the highest-performing windows. Its coefficient of thermal expansion is much closer to that of glass there by allowing the frame and glass to expand and contract at the same rate preventing cracks and air leakage.
   Water conservation.
   It takes a lot of energy to transport and treat water, and it takes a lot of water to produce the energy we use. For most homeowners, the energy-intensity of water use is hidden in water and sewer utility bills. On a per-capita basis, according to a 2006 report from the U.S. Department of Energy, energy use for water in the Mid Atlantic States is about 400 kWh/year or equivalent to running a refrigerator. Ultra low flow plumbing fixtures beyond code requirements and Water Sense appliances are a must.
   Food waste composting.
   When organic material such as food scraps are put in a landfill, compacted and covered, it removes oxygen causing the waste to breakdown anaerobically. This releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 time more potent than carbon dioxide. The separation of biodegradable waste is a simple effective strategy to reduce waste in landfills and the greenhouses gases that are causing climate change. Princeton is the first NJ community to have curbside composting, a service that every resident including renters should be afforded.
   Emergency power.
   On Oct. 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy slammed into the eastern seaboard. Virtually all of Princeton lost power and it was not fully restored for weeks while residents and businesses struggled to keep warm, prepare food and communicate. To address these critical needs when the next big storm inevitably hits, developments must be built with emergency power systems so residents can shelter in place during disasters.
   Solar power.
   Designing new developments with renewable solar energy systems or at the very least solar ready is needed for both the reduction in green house gases and energy security.
   I call on all of Princeton’s municipal officials; elected, appointed and professional staff to implement the above measures for all development in Princeton.
Heidi Fichtenbaum