At the USGBC’s 2011 Greenbuild Legal Forum, one topic of conversation was the (still) pending 2010 updates to the FTC Green Guides and the implications those updates will have for environmental marketing generally, and green building marketing specifically.
Friday reading: it’s what you read on Fridays. Or on Saturday or Sunday if you’re busy right now. Whenever, really. Totally up to you.
The owners of a condominium unit at the LEED Gold-hopeful Riverhouse development in lower Manhattan are alleging that the project’s developer breached the terms of its offering plan by failing to deliver the “green” building systems that were specified within the plan.
In a two-part series that was published last weekend, Diana Zlomislic of the Toronto Star reviews the green building landscape in Ontario and concludes that although “[s]hoddy building is not unique to the green sector . . . with governments aggressively promoting green construction and green building still an emerging practice, consumers who opt for more eco-friendly homes and renovations are more vulnerable.”
Local banks still exist, but are increasingly the sort of thing grandparents talk about walking past on their way uphill to school (and then again, on the uphill home) back in the old days. The tellers knew your name, the locations were convenient, there were no grandiose jerkweeds in a back room tranching and re-tranching your mortgage, then making trillions of dollars worth of bets on whether or not you’d pay it back, and then going out for steak and yelling profanities at each other. Commerce Bank was one such nice-guy local bank — except for the unfeasible dual-uphill-location thing — before it was purchased by Canadian banking giant TD Banknorth back in 2007. As so often happens with your bigger banks, TD Bank went about alienating New Jerseyans (admittedly, not difficult) by acting like a Canadian Banking Giant. It will take more than some solar-enhanced drive-throughs and a bunch of carbon offsets to win back Jersey — we’re like that — but TD Bank’s recent announcement that it plans to go carbon neutral at least is a sign that the erstwhile Canadian Banking Giant is dedicated to being a Responsible Canadian Banking Giant.
Back in 2009, Stephen delivered a nice post on 100 Gold Street, a green low-rise condominium development in Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill designed by Anthony Morena’s REDD Group. The list of green features at100 Gold Street will be familiar to gbNYC readers — you’ve got your dual-flush toilets and your low-VOC and recycled and locally sourced finishes and your Energy Star appliances and so on — but are no less impressive for their familiarity. Just because those green finishes and fixtures are frequently seen at gbNYC doesn’t mean they’re ubiquitous by any stretch, and 100 Gold had (and still has) a legit claim as both the first green condominium in Vinegar Hill and one of the greener condominium developments in Brooklyn. What it doesn’t have is any intention of pursuing LEED certification that might attest to that. In his post on 100 Gold, Stephen wrote, “I’m curious about the decision-making process for each of these two developers in opting to market their projects as “green” and “eco-friendly” rather than pursuing formal certification and applying the LEED brand to their marketing materials.” Now, thanks to a report by New York One’s Shazia Khan, we have an answer from Morena himself.
This article takes a fresh look at the traditional concepts of real estate marketing as they relate to property locations through the prism of green building and sustainability.
Washington State’s High-Performance Public Buildings Act requires LEED Silver certification or a design that complies with the state’s Sustainable School Design Protocol for schools larger than 5000 square feet. In a video describing the benefits of green schools that is available on the State Superintendent of Public Schools’ web site, certain claims are made about the promise of “clean, high-performance, money-saving schools” that are “a wise business choice for cost conscious schools. Relatively small increases in design and construction costs, usually less than 2 percent, ultimately bring 10 to 15 percent reductions in long-term operating costs.” The folks at KING 5 television in Seattle caught wind of these claims and decided to do some digging; you can view the station’s full report through the link at the bottom of this article. As you might guess, the station concluded that the state’s claims about green building premiums, decreased operating expenses, and higher student test scores were highly exaggerated.
Back in January here at GRELJ, I critiqued Andrew Burr of CoStar’s list of the top ten green building stories from 2008 by noting his lack of any reference to the green building litigation and associated risk management issues that began to emerge during the course of last year. Accordingly, I was pleased to see his recent column acknowledging some of the risks inherent with marketing green buildings, both in project-specific materials as well as securities disclosures. In Mr. Burr’s piece, both Paul D’Arelli of Greenberg Traurig and Brian Anderson of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek (who describes the securities issue in detail in his Understanding the Business of Green article, available via the links below), among others, note the importance of educating owners about the terminology associated with the LEED certification process and the potential legal dangers of misrepresenting a property’s green design features in terms of ultimate building performance.
Perhaps it’s anecdotal, but SL Green’s $72 million capital investment in 100 Park Avenue is paying dividends: a Wells Fargo subsidiary has indicated it was attracted to the tower’s pending LEED Silver certification after agreeing to a major lease.