Group looks to add eco-friendly elements to town hall and library project

The town hall/library project is far from completion, but Sustainable Moorestown and the Ragan Design Group are working together to include eco-friendly elements in exterior plans of the building.

According to Rick Ragan, architect and president of Ragan Design, eco-friendly elements will encompass the inside and outside of the project.

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The 46,000-square-foot building will include UV filters in the HVAC units to help purify the air.

Ragan said since there are dust particles produced by old books, the UV filters would help eliminate the particles from circulating throughout the building.

Inside, high efficiency lighting will also be installed, as well as carpet made from 100 percent recycled material, and UV rating windows to restrict sunlight from heating the building in the summer. Low-VOC paints will also be used and a solar heating system is going to be installed.

Councilman Greg Newcomer is also requesting a charging station on the property for battery-powered vehicles.

Sustainable Moorestown is working with Ragan Design and Rutgers Cooperative Extension Program — which educates and aids state municipalities when it comes to agriculture and the environment, management of natural resources, family stability, economic security and more — to fund a rain garden, roof garden and water cistern.

According to Lisa Petriello, Sustainable Moorestown’s secretary, the plans for the eco-friendly additions are not definite.

When the project’s plans were close to completion, Sustainable Moorestown was just setting its roots.

Petriello said the organization was involved in the beginning plans, and the relationship between the two groups just happened.

“We came along at the very end. Our group has only been together maybe a year. So all of this stuff has already been in the works,” she said.

But Sustainable Moorestown had an idea of how to move forward with funding.

“We just wanted to explore the possibility of the rain garden, the roof-top garden and the cistern. We were just in that mode exploring that possibility,” Petriello said.

Rutgers became involved during the grant exploring process.

Petriello said RCE is currently working on a regional stormwater management plan for Pompeston Creek, since the project’s site is less than a mile away.

“The grant wasn’t specifically for the town hall projects,” she said. “[Rutgers] just has the grant money available.”

Don Powell, Sustainable Moorestown’s treasurer, said the grant money from Rutgers will hopefully pay for a majority of the projects.

Official plans have not been created.

Petriello said the plans are not definite, but installing a water cistern, creating a roof garden and a rain garden are last-minute tasks that would not change the structural plans.

There are financial benefits when installing a water cistern and rain garden. Petriello said a cistern could be used to irrigate the property by using reclaimed water.

According to Rutgers’ NJ Green Building Manual, a cistern collects rainwater from rooftops and stores it for later use. It is typically used for large commercial applications and helps eliminate flooding and runoff.

“So you do not have to pay for water,” she said.

The rain garden would serve the same purpose as the cistern, except it does not store water for later use.

Instead of traveling straight to the sewers, rainwater would be placed back into the ground by watering the garden and landscaping, Petriello said.

The roof garden would also cut back on thermal production, Ragan said.

According to Petriello, there are skyscrapers in major cities that have rooftop gardens to help reduce carbon production.

That might not be the case for Moorestown. She said the roof top garden would be basic.

“Theoretically, it would keep the building cool,” she said, adding there are many “reams of knowledge” that go into planning a roof garden to maximize efficiency.

According to RCE’s Program Associate Benjamin Pearson, the Water Resources Program approached the township to help enhance storm water management on the site when they found out about the plans.

“The Water Resources Program has approached the township, Ragan Design Group, Alaimo Engineering and the Environmental Commission to try to work out an agreement regarding enhancing the landscape plan to include more trees and native vegetation, to incorporate a section of green roof, and also to incorporate a rainwater harvesting component to provide rainwater for irrigation,” Pearson said in an email.

“That is still all being worked out. These are still ideas that may or may not have a place in the plan.

“That’s where we are right now,” Petriello said.

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