Under an administrative order that supporters say is good for property managers and the environment, New Jersey last week became the last state to approve sub-metering for water at multifamily properties.
The order was the culmination of an eight-year debate over whether sub-metering was a landlord-tenant issue or a state conservation issue.
Conor Fennessy, vice president of government affairs for the New Jersey Apartment Association, said getting the state Board of Public Utilities to see the conservation potential of the directive was the biggest hurdle.
“It benefits the property owners, because we stop paying for waste,” Fennessy said. “Right now, we cannot educate our residents on how much water they’re using, because we can’t measure their usage … when folks can see their usage, it becomes much more real to them, and much more of a motivating factor to conserve.”
Fennessy said two studies completed in 2004 — one by the Environmental Protection Agency and one by Dartmouth University — offered real-world evidence of saving water. The EPA estimated water savings of 15 percent after installation of sub-meters, and Dartmouth reported 20 to 32 percent water savings after installation.
Sub-metering will now be allowed on all newly constructed multifamily developments in the state. Fennessy said the NJAA did not ask for older buildings to be retrofitted in its petition to the BPU, due to the “significant upfront investment” installing meters requires.
The advancement of the NJAA’s petition to approval by the BPU was spurred by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno‘s Red Tape Review Commission, Fennessy said. That “was a very, very important piece of the puzzle, because that sent a signal to the departments — and the entire Red Tape report did — that these things should be looked at, and the BPU’s big piece of the red tape of the report was sub-metering.”
Fennessy added that the bipartisan nature of the Red Tape Review Commission was another important factor in moving sub-metering forward, in addition to support from legislatures in both parties.