HOBOKEN, N.J., Nov. 16, 2018 – As the millennium population surges, owners of existing condominium and multifamily developments are rethinking living spaces and on-site amenities with this generation in mind. Individual condo sales prices have been proven to increase when the condo association upgrades common area atriums, adds needed amenities, and improves building entries and facades.
Alongside these elective decisions, condo association boards encounter environmental issues and related compliance requirements. Curing environmental concerns such as mold, contaminated soil or vapor issues requires immediate attention and can be costly; however, many of these projects can dovetail into facility upgrades that can ultimately add value to the owners’ units.
Often, tackling environmental issues goes hand in hand with making aesthetic improvements, according to Michael Novak, president of Hoboken-based Atlantic Environmental Solutions Inc. (AESI).
“Discovering or acknowledging environmental problems may initially seem like a negative for condo or co-op owners, but there can be a silver lining if the remedy serves as the first step toward a valuable improvement,” he said. “The scope of work involved with these remediation projects generally can be performed as an initial component of a planned property improvement or enhancement. A large percentage of the cost of environmental abatement or remediation are dollars that would have been spent anyway. By addressing issues and improving facilities simultaneously, condo associations save time and money and create better living environments for residents.”
Building materials in many condominiums constructed before the early 1980s contain asbestos; paint in buildings constructed prior to 1978 may contain lead. Mold and air quality issues can be caused by leaking roofs and poor drainage. Historic fill beneath parking lots and underground storage tanks need to be handled in compliance with environmental regulations. In many cases the time and money allocated to resolve environmental issues or redevelop an unused portion of a property can be performed in tandem with modernizing an existing structure.
“Removing an underground storage tank or excavating soil, for example, could be performed in conjunction with re-landscaping a property or installing an in-ground community pool. The abatement of a mold issue can serve as the first step toward a new atrium wall and ceiling. A condominium building may need to remove a portion of a roof that contains asbestos, and in the process, that space can be refurbished with a garden or rooftop amenity space,” said Novak.
Making these and other green improvements also creates a significant opportunity for property owners and managers to boost the value of their real estate assets, according to Karim Kaspar, senior counsel with Lowenstein Sandler LLP. Kaspar represents numerous condominium associations in building design and litigation. He cites a recent oceanfront roofing project to replace a ballasted roof that was no longer code compliant.
“In this case the condominium association decided to install a newer TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) membrane with a 25-year warranty. However, due to the high building height (over 100 feet) coupled with intense winds from winter storms, the Association was concerned about no longer having a ballasted roof. It decided to install solar panels on the new TPO roof which now serves the dual purpose of saving the Association money on electricity by going green.”
Atlantic Environmental Solutions, Inc. (AESI) is a full-service environmental consulting firm active in New Jersey, New York and throughout the U.S., providing a wide range of services to assist clients in complying with complex environmental laws and regulations. With two decades of experience in the regulatory, technical, and management aspects of environmental issues, the Hoboken, N.J.-based firm has handled over $60 million in environmental projects at over 5,000 client locations across 47 states. Whether working with municipalities, industrial brokerage firms, transit village developers, REITS, general contractors, or utilities, AESI is committed to managing and resolving environmental concerns to save clients time and money and to ensure a better quality of life for communities and their residents.
Photo Credit: Aaron Houston