This is the first of a series of articles here at the Green Real Estate Law Journal on the impact that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will have on green building generally. Future articles will provide greater detail as to the projects utilizing federal funds in a multitude of states, some unique legal risks associated with these projects, and the disputes that may arise in connection with such projects.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Recovery Act”) offers multiple opportunities for property owners, developers and other stakeholders in the green building arena. There are tens of billions of dollars in funding initiatives for green building in the Recovery Act. Many of the provisions are complex and the specific projects that are to be have yet to be fully provided. That being said, the commitment to green building is clearly apparent throughout the Recovery Act and a quick summary of the critical green building funding proposals are detailed below:
- Federal Building Efficiency: At least $4.5 billion is allocated to the U.S. General Services Administration (“GSA”) to convert GSA facilities to “High-Performance Green buildings”, thus making federal buildings more energy efficient. Pursuant to that certain GSA Memorandum to Assistant Regional Administrators, PBS Regional Realty Service Officers from Samuel J. Morris, III, Acting Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Real Estate Acquisition – PQC, dated December 27, 2007, the GSA has adopted the U.S. Green Building Council’s (“USGBC”) LEED certification system and has set a goal that new construction or substantial renovation of a building or leased space over 10,000 rentable square feet receive at least LEED Silver certification.
- Establishment of Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings: $4 million in funds were set aside for the establishment of the Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings within the GSA, which office was created by the 2007 Act. The Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings may have the longest lasting impact on the green building movement based upon the future actions it will take regarding federal government office space and buildings overseen by the GSA
- Green Building Training: $3 million has been allocated for a green building training and apprenticeship program for federal buildings.
- Renovation of Department of Defense (“DOD”) Buildings: A portion of the $4.2 billion in funds to modernize various DOD facilities will go toward green building related improvements.
- Local Government Energy Efficiency and Conservation: $6.3 billion in grants to help state and local governments make investments that make them more energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.
- Energy Star Appliances: $300 million to provide consumers with rebates for buying energy efficient Energy Star products to replace old appliances.
- Public Housing Capital Fund: $4 billion is allocated for the Public Housing Capital Fund to retrofit the public housing projects to make them more energy efficient.
As detailed above, the specific projects that will receive allocations pursuant to the Recovery Act have not been fully released. A multitude of websites are being increasingly utilized and/or created in order to provide up-to-date information as to the available Recovery Act projects. The website www.fedbizopps.gov is an excellent resource for federal projects. As of March 1, 2009, conducting a “Quick Search” using the term “LEED” results in 313 specific federal opportunities. Another useful site is www.recovery.gov, which provides specific details regarding the Recovery Act, including a useful tool that contains links to each of the individual state websites that have been created in connection with the Recovery Act. Here at GRELJ, we will continue to track the Recovery Act and keep our readers aware of where things go from this relatively early point forward.
Geoff White is a Senior Associate in the Commercial Transactions and Real Estate Group at Frost Brown Todd. He is a contributing author to Green Real Estate Law Journal. He also oversees the Green Building Series on the Frost Brown Todd’s Construction Law News website. Mr. White is licensed to practice law in Kentucky and Ohio and is a member of the Kentucky Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. Learn more about Geoff at http://www.frostbrowntodd.com/geoffwhite/