New Jersey Future Report Seeks to Guide Municipalities in Addressing Climate Change

New Jersey Future Report Seeks to Guide Municipalities in Addressing Climate Change 789 444 DMR Architects

(Image courtesy of New Jersey Future)

New Jersey Future has published the Guide to Local Climate Change Adaption Planning, a first of its kind roadmap on how municipalities can proactively address climate change vulnerabilities in their communities.

“Municipalities can initiate comprehensive climate adaptation through hazard assessments, adaptation planning processes, and purposeful implementation of adaptation actions that make the entire community climate-ready. In fact, municipalities are now required to incorporate climate assessments and strategies into their comprehensive plans,” New Jersey Future outlined in their announcement.

Daniel Hauben, PP, AICP, LEED Green Associate was a contributor to the document.

Is A P3 Right for Your Infrastructure Project? A Case Study. (Join Us at NJLM)

Is A P3 Right for Your Infrastructure Project? A Case Study. (Join Us at NJLM) 789 444 DMR Architects

Join us as Charles H. Sarlo, Esq. joins a professional development session at the New Jersey League of Municipalities Annual Conference.

Tuesday, November 14

10:45 a.m. 

Room 415, Atlantic City Convention Center 

Public entities now have procurement options when considering a capital infrastructure project. Public-Private Partnership agreements, commonly known as P3, can have certain advantages over the traditional use of the Local Public Contracts Law. The panel, which is currently working through the process of the first P3 project under New Jersey’s P3 law, will offer a regulatory overview & provide insight from the views of both the public and private sector.


  • Timothy McDonald, Mayor, Lacey Twp.
  • Veronica Laureigh, Administrator, Township of Lacey
  • Charles H. Sarlo, Esq., General Counsel and Partner, DMR Architects, Inc.
  • James Fuja, Director of Sustainable Infrastructure, Johnson Controls

CEU Details:

CMFO Off Mgmt-1.5, CCFO-Off Mgmt-1.5,CPWM-Mgmt-1.5, RMC-Prof Devel 1.5,QPA-P/P-1.5, CPA-PD 1.5,NJCLE-1.5, PACLE 1.0, LGLP-5.0, Engineer(PE)-1.0,CRP-Classroom 1.25,RPPO/RPPS-P/P 1.5



LEED Certification: Building a Sustainable Future

LEED Certification: Building a Sustainable Future 789 444 DMR Architects

By Lisa Fant

Sustainability is on the rise in the real estate sector, driven by homebuyers’ preferences for eco-friendly properties and environmentally conscious building practices. With the pressing global issues of climate change, resource depletion, and the need for more sustainable alternatives, sustainability is now a top priority. It’s no longer an option but a necessity, fundamentally reshaping how architectural firms approach their projects.

Chief Operations Officer and Partner at DMR Architects in Hasbrouck Heights, Pradeep Kapoor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is recognized as an early champion of sustainable design as one of the first architects in New Jersey to achieve LEED accreditation. Crediting a longstanding interest and passion for sustainable design, Kapoor significantly expanded the firm’s sustainable design portfolio, including projects at certified, silver, and gold levels, such as Carlstadt Elementary School, the first LEED Silver public school in New Jersey.

Among many sustainability initiatives and projects, LEED certification stands out as a symbol of excellence in architectural sustainability. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a globally recognized third-party standard for designing, constructing, and operating high-performance green buildings and neighborhoods. This program employs a point-based rating system, with designations like silver, gold, and platinum levels based on the total points earned during the assessment. To attain LEED certification, a project must meet specific prerequisites and accumulate points in various categories, including carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health, and indoor environmental quality.

“It’s about building holistically. It’s not just about saving energy and water, but the quality of the building,” said Kapoor. “The system considers everything from the use of locally sourced materials to minimize the carbon footprint associated with transportation and supporting the local economy to resource conservation strategies like collecting rainwater to reduce water demand.”

The specific LEED certification process and rating system are dependent on the project’s category—commercial, neighborhood development, residential, or cities and communities; however, the process generally includes the following steps:

  1. Registration: The process begins with registering the project with the Green Building Certification Institute to officially start the certification process.
  2. Selecting LEED Category: The project team must determine the appropriate LEED category.
  3. Goal Setting: Project teams must establish their sustainability goals and objectives. The goal should determine the desired level of LEED certification (Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum). The total number of points required to meet each level of LEED certification are:
    • Certified: 40-49 points
    • Silver: 50-59 points
    • Gold: 60-79 points
    • Platinum: 80+
  4. Preliminary Review: The project team will review the project plan, and then proceed with design development, design completion, and construction commencement.
  5. Documentation: The project team must provide detailed documentation for each LEED credit they aim to achieve. Documentation can include plans, calculations, and specifications.
  6. LEED Review: GBCI conducts an official review of the project’s documentation, assessing whether the project meets the necessary prerequisites and qualifies for the selected credits.
  7. Certification: Once GBCI approves the project’s compliance with LEED standards, the project earns LEED certification at the appropriate level (Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum).

While the process may initially appear demanding, it is integral to crafting environmentally responsible structures. In a world where sustainable design has become the new standard, achieving LEED certification sets a benchmark for sustainability that not only benefits the environment but also enhances the long-term value and appeal of the project. While LEED represents the highest sustainability standards, projects don’t require LEED certification to integrate sustainability.

“Sustainability is at the core of our projects, regardless of whether our clients are working towards LEED certification from the USGBC,” said Kapoor. “We keep in mind that one project can inspire many others.”

One of the standout projects within DMR Architects’ portfolio is the renowned Carlstadt Elementary School in Bergen County. During the school’s initial design phase in the early 2000s, there were fewer than 10 LEED-certified buildings in New Jersey. “Pursuing the certification back then was more of a challenge than it is today,” said Kapoor. “Most people just weren’t aware of it.”

By choosing to align with these groundbreaking guidelines, now adopted by more than 2,200 structures throughout the state, the project showcased a forward-looking commitment to sustainable construction and the enhanced well-being of its occupants. Carlstadt Elementary School became the 26th building to meet LEED standards in the state, earning the prestigious distinction of being the first LEED Silver public school in New Jersey and the pioneering LEED-certified building in Bergen County.

The school presented an opportunity to educate the community about sustainable architecture practices and how green design contributes to the well-being and quality of life of the building occupants and the broader community. “It’s about education and why these architects are committing themselves to this initiative,” said Kapoor. Additionally, DMR created a curriculum to teach Carlstadt students about the school’s eco-friendly features. “We want the students to see that because of the sun, the school has energy or that the items they recycle become materials.”

With the rise in LEED certification recognition in the real estate industry, more real estate professionals are embracing sustainable design benefits. This awareness is driving their growing interest in sustainable practices and the unique advantages they offer. “Real estate developers and agents are now promoting buildings and attracting clients and tenants to buildings that are visually appealing, but also have reduced operating costs due to resource efficiency,” said Kapoor. “What many people don’t know is there’s a LEED rating system for existing buildings. The certification isn’t only for new builds.”

By adopting a comprehensive approach to sustainable design prioritizing health and safety, office spaces, schools, and residential dwellings have undergone a transformation, resulting in more welcoming spaces and less impact on natural resources. The shift towards transit-oriented design is fostering the development of walkable plazas and neighborhoods. Although these concepts have always been present, there is now a newfound emphasis on their creation and implementation.

This article was written by Lisa Fant and originally appeared in New Jersey Realtor(R) Magazine.

Edison BOE Moves Forward with $100 Million in Projects

Edison BOE Moves Forward with $100 Million in Projects 789 444 DMR Architects

A Nov. 1 groundbreaking ceremony marked the commencement of a 48,000 SF DMR-designed classroom addition at J.P. Stevens High School in Edison. It is part of a $100 million investment by the Edison Board of Education at six of its facilities.

“Working closely with the district, DMR designed these spaces to improve the education-related experience for the students that utilize these buildings,” said Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C.  “We commend Dr. Aldarelli and the school board for advancing improvements to their facilities which will improve the learning and development of their students.”

The projects will be phased over several years to reflect current technologies, changes in education strategies, and address the dynamic increase in New Jersey’s sixth largest municipality’s school-aged population.

“The Edison school system is well-known for its high academic standards and ability to prepare students for post-graduation studies and careers,” said Pradeep Kapoor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C.  “The work we’re doing will assist teachers and students in their pursuit of the best education practices.”


Montgomery Library Featured Among Country’s Most Celebratory Libraries

Montgomery Library Featured Among Country’s Most Celebratory Libraries 789 444 DMR Architects

The Montgomery branch of the Somerset County Library System is among vibrant, celebratory and stimulating libraries across the country that were featured in Library Journal’s Architecture Issue.

The exceptional design of the branch, built as part of the design and construction of a new municipal center, focused on providing a modern space that met the varied social and intellectual needs of the community, while also honoring the township’s history as an agricultural community.

Design features implemented in pursuit of this goal include:

  • The main “living room,” with a fire feature and soft furniture for casual reading. Seating is also located along the full height, glazed façade which overlooks the surrounding landscape, primarily open space, and connecting the patrons to the outside. The use of heavy timber throughout the exterior and interior is also a tribute to the township’s agricultural history.
  • A sort-o-matic, a book sorting machine. Special design considerations were taken for patrons to enjoy watching their books move through the grand piece of machinery.
  • A digital preservation lab, equipped with a large format archival scanner, advanced video and audio editing technology, a light box for photographing historical objects and access to many other digital programs. Designers strategically placed this room in a central location and utilized glass walls to maintain visual connection.
  • Additional technological integrations, including reserving materials online to after-hours pickup from an outdoor book locker.

Construction Milestones at DMR-Designed Schools Reveal Unique Funding Sources and Delivery Methods

Construction Milestones at DMR-Designed Schools Reveal Unique Funding Sources and Delivery Methods 789 444 DMR Architects

DMR has recently participated in construction milestone celebrations in four New Jersey municipalities, delivered through a variety of funding and procurement methods for projects that enhance the learning experience for school-aged children while also being fiscally responsible to residents.

In Carteret, sixth through eighth grade students recently began their second year in the new DMR-designed Junior High School.  This is the successful culmination of a project that started with a referendum to build the first new education facility in the borough in 40 years.  DMR played a key role in creating and presenting materials to residents about the need for a new school as well as the benefits to taxpayers.

“Our work in Carteret included adjusting the program to make sure that we adhered to a strict tax dollar value that was palpable to residents as well as selecting projects so that its five schools and all 4,000 students benefited from the referendum,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA. “DMR was also involved in strategic planning with the Carteret School Board and Mayor on finding the best site for the new Junior High School that fit its educational needs and budget.”

In Plainfield, the DMR-designed Charles and Anna Booker Elementary School was constructed through the New Jersey Schools Development Authority design-build program. This is the first year for 700 K-fifth grade students to matriculate in the facility that replaces the outdated Woodland Elementary School with 41 classrooms in addition to rooms for science demonstrations, a technology lab, a media center, physical therapy, a speech room, a cafetorium, a multi-purpose room with a stage, a playground, and basketball courts.

The design-build method will also be used to fund the construction of Hudson County Vocational at Bayonne High School, a project for the Hudson County Schools of Technology, Bayonne Board of Education, Hudson County, and the Hudson County Improvement Authority.  DMR is the architect of record for the project which recently broke ground and will provide vocational and career technical education in mechanics, construction, carpentry, plumbing, electrics, finance, digital communications, criminal justice, cosmetology, and medicine.

In New Brunswick, the DMR-designed Blanquita B. Valenti Community School just opened replacing the Lincoln Annex School, formerly St. Peter’s High School and Elementary School, which was demolished for construction of the state’s first free-standing cancer hospital.

“This was a very unique situation where the building had outgrown its benefits to the city but the land underneath it was valuable enough to fund a new state-of-the-art educational facility that will shape the minds of students for generations to come.”

DMR designed the three-story, 127,400 SF facility with advanced educational spaces including a media center, technology lab, makerspace, labs, and other traditional educational spaces.

“Just as each school system requires its own customized solutions for additional space, new technologies and teaching modalities, STEM labs and spaces for extracurricular activities, they also need tailored approaches to funding.  Sometimes we take what we’ve learned working with one municipality and apply it in another because their education needs and funding barriers are similar.”

Among other funding sources for school districts is New Jersey’s Energy Saving Improvement Program [ESIP]. DMR-planned projects totaling more than $35 million in Edison, Hackensack, Tenafly are currently in progress. Through the program, energy-related projects, such as HVAC upgrades and solar panels, are funded using the value of the energy savings that result from the projects so that school boards do not have to utilize municipal capital reserves or utilize taxpayer dollars.

bergenPAC Honors DMR’s Lloyd Rosenberg for his Support of Performing Arts

bergenPAC Honors DMR’s Lloyd Rosenberg for his Support of Performing Arts 789 444 DMR Architects

On Sunday, October 15, Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, president and CEO of DMR Architects will be honored by bergenPAC, one of the most iconic Northern New Jersey performance spaces, for his contributions to supporting the performing arts community.

Lloyd’s prolific career includes the recent redesign of bergenPAC’s lobby, concessions/bar area and new VIP area into a vibrant gathering space.

“bergenPAC’s trust in DMR’s vision to evolve their spaces into a cohesive experience that starts long before the curtains go up was a great honor in and of itself,” he said.  “I am grateful and humbled by its recognition of our work here and throughout the region in support of the arts and thank them for all they do to advance artistic expression and make it available for everyone to enjoy.”

DMR re-energized bergenPAC using raw industrial design elements—bare beams, exposed brick, pendant light fixtures and visible ductwork—juxtaposed to the refined traditional décor expected in a theater setting. The firm also redesigned the box office to refresh its aesthetic and meet current ADA compliance and the mezzanine level to increase the number of bathrooms.

DMR has been a pioneer in activating and designing performance spaces including the award-winning repurposing of Hackensack’s 140-year-old Masonic Temple into a 224-seat performing arts center and conceptual designs for a proposed state-of-the-art renovation to the Stephen J. Capestro Theatre Complex. DMR’s portfolio also expands to high schools, inspiring the next generation of performers and theatre technicians. Ten recent auditorium renovations are breathing new life into six districts by not only offering the equipment and technology to support advanced technical production and performance space, but also by bringing the often decades-old spaces up to proper compliance.

In addition to restoring historically significant theaters, DMR also redesigned historic buildings including the Annin Flag Factory into modern loft-style apartments in Verona, NJ.

In Middletown, Renovation Reflects Social Identity of the Library

In Middletown, Renovation Reflects Social Identity of the Library 789 444 DMR Architects

While libraries have always served as hubs of curiosity and enlightenment, changes in technology, resources and styles have called for many renovations. Middletown is the latest municipality to turn to DMR to renovate their public library to address these modern needs.

DMR’s plans at the Middletown Library will soon reshape the facility into a destination that will better serve the social and intellectual needs of the town through new and expanded programming space including a makerspace and business skills lab, café/coffee station with a fireplace lounge, and dedicated history, teen, reading and community rooms. The design considered visual connection, existing natural light and overall flexibility.

Previously, DMR helped fund library projects in numerous municipalities and completed projects in Montgomery, which received national recognition, and for the North Hunterdon Regional High School District.

Where’s the Party? It’s In Your Lobby

Where’s the Party? It’s In Your Lobby 789 444 DMR Architects

Pre-COVID-19, public spaces – everything from waiting rooms to bank branches – were quickly evolving into engagement space that encouraged interaction between employees and visitors.

While COVID caused many businesses to rethink spacing, counterintuitively, it hasn’t been about reduction or elimination of gathering areas.

Or, said differently, organizations of all types might as well be saying “Let’s get this party started.  Again.”

DMR Architects explains:

“Common areas should not be used simply as comfort and waiting stops, they should stimulate relationships among their visitors – whether that be a full-time employee walking through or a customer who may visit very infrequently.  The idea of fostering relationships and making people feel wanted, comfortable and entertained has enormous value – and it can be accomplished for a modest investment,” said Lloyd A. Rosenberg.

DMR has executed public space strategies for a wide array of companies. Some, like Blue Foundry Bank’s administrative office, were commenced before the pandemic and others, like Ridgefield’s municipal offices, were designed during the pandemic.  Each is responsive to a different set of criteria in pursuit of a specific objective. But they all have one thing in common: they are easy places to be.

“A generation ago, waiting rooms and reception areas were sterile places that people wanted to leave and meeting rooms were dominated by conference tables and uncomfortable seating,” Lloyd Rosenberg continues.  “Whereas in the past you were lucky to have coffee service, at Blue Foundry one of the main meeting spaces is a lounge-style cafeteria with beer on tap. Companies know that the more people are interacting the better they perform as collaborators. And in places like sports venues, such as the East Brunswick Ice Rink, the focus on food service and meeting spaces has transformed their use.

“And that’s all the more important since the pandemic, when people were intentionally kept apart and may be out of practice at socializing with customers and teammates.  The expected functions of an architect – like addressing circulation, capacity, wayfinding and safety – are in support of a broader consciousness.”

Even libraries and police departments are getting into the act.

“You wouldn’t think librarians would emphasize the need for places to gather, but libraries express community and culture through their public spaces, which is brought to life in the exceptional design of the Montgomery branch of the Somerset County Library System.  And in both Ridgefield and Montgomery, where the stationhouse adjoins the municipal building, the designs address practical and security concerns but are welcoming and accessible.

“These are not just buildings, they are representations of culture and community, and they should be developed as sources of pride.  And, they can be a lot of fun.  Now, it’s not a coma-inducing waiting room – it’s a party in the lobby.”

Dunellen Among First NJ Municipalities to Adopt Climate Resiliency Plan

Dunellen Among First NJ Municipalities to Adopt Climate Resiliency Plan 789 444 DMR Architects

Dunellen is believed to be the first municipality in New Jersey to adopt a stand-alone Climate Resiliency Plan following Governor Murphy’s 2021 amendment to the Municipal Land Use Law. The borough retained DMR to write the plan which addresses its susceptibility to flooding and other global warming hazards.

“Preparing a roadmap for anticipating and avoiding the flooding and other devastation that we saw after Hurricane Ida in September 2021 is so crucial to us in Dunellen that we took the important approach to prepare this plan as a stand-alone document,” said Dunellen Mayor Jason Cilento of the plan that will be used to guide decision-making related to zoning, redevelopment, housing, infrastructure, green initiatives, pedestrian safety and other aspects of daily life and municipal governance. “DMR’s practitioners helped us complete a comprehensive, proactive and intentional plan that will advance municipal redevelopment and sustainability practices and benefit the borough for generations.”

The Climate Resiliency Plan includes recommendations to the Borough for the next decade and beyond to mitigate its exposure to worsening flooding, precipitation, and heat, such as:

  • Partnering with regional agencies and neighboring municipalities to address riverine flooding;
  • Amending local zoning and exploring other options to reduce development intensity in flood prone areas;
  • Promoting green building practices that help to reduce flooding and stormwater runoff.

“Similar to how DMR’s planners approach any project, we drew on our diverse expertise from land use and zoning to sustainability practices that will help protect Dunellen for the next decade and beyond,” said Daniel Hauben, PP, AICP, LEED Green Associate.  “It is wise for municipal leaders to plan ahead of natural disasters as we see one in a hundred-year storms making landfall more and more often.”

DMR’s work to complete the plan included:

  • Analyzing the existing infrastructure, including water, sewage, power and gas; Dunellen’s flood zones and vulnerability for flooding regardless of the designated zones; and natural hazards;
  • Completing a vulnerability assessment which examined and rated the risks facing community assets, such as brooks, parks, transit lines, and buildings;
  • Completing a build out analysis to project how much redevelopment could occur within vulnerable areas under current zoning;
  • Recommending resiliency strategies, design standards and policies;
  • Identifying grant programs to provide critical funding for the projects outlined in the plan.

DMR’s previous planning work in Dunellen also included a Master Plan Reexamination; the Master Plan, Complete Streets and Transit Friendly Planning Survey; Cannabis Business Public Survey; and numerous Redevelopment Plan amendments and other efforts to address affordable housing and infrastructure projects.