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NJ COOL PROGRAM


The NJ Cool Program was approved by the NJEDA Board on November 16, 2023. Additional notice will be made when applications are open. Please reach out to njcool@njeda.gov with any initial questions in the interim or if you would like to be added to the program mailing list.

The NJ Cool program is a $15 million pilot program launched by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) to provide financial assistance to commercial building owners and tenants undertaking retrofit construction projects that reduce operating greenhouse gas emissions from existing commercial buildings in Newark, Edison, and Atlantic City.

The NJEDA will provide grant awards ranging from $50,000 to $1 million to reimburse applicants for eligible hard construction costs from projects that upgrade building heating and cooling systems to less polluting alternatives, as well as implement other energy efficiency measures or on-site renewables. This pilot is funded by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds allocated to NJEDA and will accelerate the adoption of more environmentally friendly building systems, technologies, and construction practices within New Jersey.

AMOUNT

Grant awards will cover 50% of eligible project costs up to a maximum award of $1,000,000 per project (with a minimum award amount of $50,000 per project).


BENEFITS

Commercial building owners and tenants receive funding for retrofit projects that can:
A. Reduce operating greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change
B
. Improve indoor and
outdoor air quality
C
. Reduce energy costs

ELIGIBILITY

Only existing commercial buildings located in Newark, Edison, and Atlantic City are eligible for the initial pilot. Eligible applicants may own or lease the building space that will be improved using the grant funding. If the space is leased, the Applicant must provide building owner approval for the project. 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Applicant

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Commercial building owner or a commercial tenant with landlord/building owner approval to complete the proposed project
  • Have a valid New Jersey tax clearance certificate no older than 180 days at time of application approval
  • Be in good standing with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
  • Demonstrate proof of funding/financing for the estimated project costs plus 15% project contingency following grant award approval and before finalizing grant agreement
  • Participants in the NJ Clean Energy New Construction Program (Gut Rehab) or Large Energy Users Program are not eligible to participate in the NJ Cool Program Pilot

Building

Buildings must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Existing building located in the municipality of Newark, Edison, or Atlantic City
  • Meet building occupancy class Mercantile Group M, Assembly Group A-2, Business Group B per Chapter 3 of the New Jersey Building Code. For mixed-use buildings with multiple occupancy classes, project improvements must at least affect space inside the building that meets at least one of these three occupancy classes. Excluded from Business Group B are Airport traffic control towers, civic administration, educational occupancies above the 12th grade, and post offices​.

Project

Projects must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • All work must be conducted in accordance with NJ prevailing wage and affirmative action requirements
  • Total eligible project costs must be greater than or equal to $100,000 (there is no upper limit to project costs)
  • Not consist of new construction or enlargements (adding square footage to the building)
  • Project scope must include:

A. Switching (75% or more) of building space heating loads from existing fossil fuel-based combustion systems to non-combustion-based heating systems with low to zero direct operating emissions.

and/or

B. Replacing (75% or more) of existing high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants with lower GWP alternatives.

Plus, optionally 

C. Supporting work that further reduces operating emissions and/or improves energy efficiency of the building, including but not limited to:

  • Installing on-site renewable energy generation and/or storage systems 
  • Upgrading electric service and/or electric panels
  • Replacing gas powered appliances (ex: hot water heaters, clothes dryers, kitchen equipment) with electric alternatives 
  • Installing building management systems or energy load controls 
  • Conducting weatherization or building envelope (ex: façade, doors, windows, insulation) upgrades
  • Installing heat recovery equipment
  • Replacing lighting with more efficient equipment and/or controls

Note, if the Applicant is a tenant, the minimum 75% switching requirement for heating load or existing refrigerants will only apply to the portions of the building within the tenant’s lease or the building systems affecting the tenant’s space within the overall building.

GRANT AWARD

Maximum grant award will be calculated based on 50% of total eligible project costs. Grant awards will be a minimum of $50,000 with a capped maximum award amount of $1,000,000 per project. Grant awards will be calculated based on eligible project costs net of any expected incentive payments from NJ BPU/Clean Energy Programs or New Jersey utility programs.

Eligible Project Costs: 

  • Materials, labor, and/or equipment provided by Publics Work contractor that are directly related to emissions reductions/energy efficiency improvements or enabling work necessary for proposed emissions reducing/energy efficient building systems to be operational (i.e., upgrading electric panels, structural improvements for rooftop solar or HVAC systems)
  • Equipment and/or materials procured directly by the Applicant that are directly related to emissions reductions/energy efficiency or enabling work necessary for proposed emissions reducing/energy efficient building systems to be operational

Ineligible Project Costs:

  • Soft costs: including but not limited to energy audits, design professional services, 3rd party construction management costs, permitting fees, commissioning costs, inspection fees
  • Interior finish improvements and upgrades not related to operating energy/emissions reductions (ex: flooring, artwork)
  • Other building system upgrades not related to operating energy/emissions reductions (ex: fire sprinklers, security cameras), even if required for overall building code compliance
  • Furniture: non-permanent items (ex: desks, chairs, cabinets)
  • Prior energy efficiency/emissions reductions improvements began or completed before time of application approval
  • New construction, including enlargements or additions to existing buildings that increase overall building square footage
  • Facility or site acquisition 
  • Fines incurred because of code or zoning violations during construction project(s) associated with this grant

CONTRACTORS

What requirements are contractor(s) subject to on this project?

  • Contractors must be registered as a New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOL) Public Works Contractor. More about Registered Public Works Contractors can be found here
  • Contractors must agree to pay prevailing wage, which is set by county and by construction trade
  • Contractors with 4 or more total employees must abide by affirmative action requirements
  • To help connect potential applicants with NJDOL Registered Public Works Contractors, the NJEDA will develop and maintain a public list of NJDOL Registered Public Works Contractors that have expressed interest in the program.  This list will be made available as an optional resource to potential applicants. If you are a Registered Public Works Contractor and would like to be on this list, please click here.

EMISSIONS CALCULATIONS

Applicant must submit as part their application the annual and total projected operating greenhouse gas and co-pollutant emissions avoided as a result of the project. These calculations must be prepared by a qualified professional (see list below). See program Emissions SOP for guidance on how these calculations should be prepared and the Summary Form for a reporting template that must be uploaded with submitted applications alongside supporting documentation. Please note, these estimates are for program reporting and tracking purposes. This reporting is required by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the source of funding for the NJ Cool Program. The magnitude of the projected emissions avoidance does not affect program eligibility or potential award size.

Qualified professionals include but are not limited to:

  • Licensed engineer (NJ state professional engineer or other state’s equivalent)
  • Licensed architect (NJ state registered architect or other state’s equivalent) 
  • Certified Energy Auditor (CEA certification from the Association of Energy Engineers) 
  • Certified Energy Manager (CEM certification from the Association of Energy Engineers)
  • Energy Management Professional (EMP certification from the Energy Management Association)
  • Building Energy Assessment Professional (BEAP certification from ASHRAE)

APPLICATION PROCESS

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications will go through the following review process:

Step 1: Applicants submit application and supporting documents, requesting a grant award amount based on estimated eligible construction costs.


Step 2: NJEDA reviews application materials and if acceptable provides approval of a maximum grant award amount.


Step 3: Applicant has 2 months from application approval to provide proof of funding for estimated project costs plus an additional 15% contingency.


Step 4: NJEDA reviews proof of funding documentation. If acceptable, applicant will enter into grant agreement with NJEDA.


Step 5: Applicant has 6 months from completion of grant agreement to begin construction activities on the building site.


Step 6: Applicant has 2 years from start of construction to complete construction and submit proof of expenses for reimbursement. Applicant can submit proof of expenses for reimbursement in two occurrences: When 50% of estimated eligible project costs are incurred by the applicant and when project construction is fully complete. In order to be eligible for reimbursement, the Applicant’s project must be in compliance with NJ Prevailing Wage and Affirmative Action requirements.

FEES

Application fee: non-refundable $1,000 fee for applying to the program.

Fossil fuel-based combustion heating systems: Heating systems that burn fossil fuels (i.e.: natural gas, propane, heating oil) to warm interior building spaces through distribution of hot air, water, steam, or another medium.

Non-combustion-based heating systems with low to zero direct operating emissions: Heating systems that don’t burn any material to warm interior spaces. Examples include but are not limited to air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, water source heat pumps, or variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems.

Commercial building: Meet building occupancy class Mercantile Group M, Assembly Group A-2, Business Group B per Chapter 3 of the New Jersey Building Code. For mixed-use buildings with multiple occupancy classes, project improvements must affect space inside the building that meets at least one of these three occupancy classes. Excluded from Business Group B are Airport traffic control towers, civic administration, educational occupancies above the 12th grade, and post offices.

Refrigerants: Halogenated gases (i.e.: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), or HFC blends) used for cooling (refrigeration and air conditioning) within buildings.

High Global Warming Potential (GWP)Refrigerants: For the NJ Cool Program, high GWP refrigerants eligible for replacement grants are defined as refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential greater than or equal to 2000(100-year GWP value).

Lower GWP Alternative Refrigerants: New refrigerants being installed under the NJ Cool Program must have a lower GWP than the existing high GWP refrigerant being replaced and must be permissible for installation per latest relevant federal, state, and local regulations. The following links provide additional information regarding refrigerants and relevant regulations: