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A Closer Look at the 2011 Midtown Manhattan Green Building Opportunity Index Profile Report

gbNYC takes a closer look at the Midtown Manhattan Profile Report, prepared as part of Cushman & Wakefield’s 2011 Green Building Opportunity Index, in order to draw some anecdotal conclusions about the state of green real estate in the country’s largest office market.

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LEED 2009 Creeps Into New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan

Although the costs of auditing were raised by opponents to the plan earlier this year, mandatory energy audits are now required every ten years, though buildings certified under LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance or which receive EPA’s Energy Star label are exempt. It’s this exemption that’s of particular interest to us here at GRELJ.

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Model Green Lease Lands in New York City at Urban Green Expo

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to join a panel discussion on green leasing at the Urban Green Expo here in New York City. The session, which was titled “Green Leases: Aligning the Incentives of Landlord and Tenant,” presented the results of four projects which aim to provide brokers, landlords, tenants, and their attorneys with guidance towards creating more sustainable leasing structures. The projects, which may be familiar to you, were the Real Property Association of Canada’s (REALpac) Green Office Lease, the BOMA Green Lease Guide, and the NRDC’s Green Lease Forum, which aimed to create a set of principles for lease negotiations and other recommendations for making existing leases more energy efficient. I presented the Model Green Lease Task Force’s Model Green Lease- an effort which, as you may know, was spearheaded by green leasing guru Alan Whitson (who has contributed here at GRELJ previously in an insightful response to an article that we wrote on environmental performance objective clauses). Unlike the BOMA Green Lease Guide (created by Jones Day partner Steve Teitelbaum, who also participated on the panel), the Model Green Lease is an extremely compact document, drafted from scratch, which is fundamentally based on the theory that, in order to make a more compelling business case for green buildings, leases must be crafted as gross (i.e., the landlord is responsible for building operating expenses, unlike in a net lease, where the tenant pays for its own share of those costs). The document, which also includes a corresponding reference guide, comprises just 17 pages plus exhibits and incorporates ten essential elements that aim to support a specific definition of a green building created by the Task Force for purposes of the project: “[a] building that is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to live or work.”

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Contractor Leads Attack Against Nashville’s LEED Legislation

Some interesting legislative developments are taking place right now in Nashville, Tennessee that implicate many of the green building policy issues that we’ve been wrestling with over the past few months here at GRELJ. Since 2007, metropolitan Nashville has required most new and major public projects to larger than 5000 square feet or costing more than $2 million to earn LEED certification. Recently, city councilman Duane Dominy of suburban Antioch introduced legislation that would “allow the Metropolitan Government to pursue an alternative sustainable development design standard to LEED certification based upon pre-determined energy reduction and efficiencies. If Metro chose to pursue an alternative to LEED, the contractor would be required to warrant for a three-year period that the annual energy use for the building will be less than similar buildings” or will earn a minimum score under EPA’s Energy Star program.

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RICS Study: No Premium for LEED-Certified Commercial Office Buildings

Last week, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (“RICS”) released the results of a study authored by Piet Eichholtz and Nils Kok of Maastricht University and John Quigley of Berkeley. Titled “Doing Well By Doing Good? An Analysis of the Financial Performance of Green Office Buildings in the USA,” the purpose of the study was to determine whether investors are currently willing to pay any premium for green (Energy Star- and LEED-certified) commercial office buildings and, if so, what that premium is. The authors identified 1360 buildings- 286 LEED-certified, 1045 Energy Star-certified, and 29 certified under both systems- and were able to obtain complete building characteristics and monthly rents from CoStar for 649 of them, as well as sales data for 199 buildings that swapped hands between 2004 and 2007. To create a pool of peer buildings, the authors used the CoStar database to identify all other office buildings within a quarter mile radius of the subject green building to create a “cluster” of buildings for each of the 893 subject buildings. The study concluded that “the type of label matters. We find consistent and statistically significant effects in the marketplace for the Energy Star-labeled buildings. We find no significant market effects associated with the LEED label. Energy Star concentrates on energy use, while the LEED label is much broader in scope. Our results suggest that tenants and investors are willing to pay more for an energy-efficient building, but not for a building advertised as ‘sustainable’ in a broader sense.”

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Introduction to the Stimulus Package: Green Building and the Stimulus (Part I)

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 after the jump.

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