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Tag Archives | Green Building Law

Atlanta Restauranteurs Resisting Push for Green Building Legislation

Recent efforts by Atlanta’s restaurant industry to resist proposed green building legislation implicate the conclusions of NIBS’ report about state- and local-level green building policy which we noted last month here at GRELJ. The Atlanta Sustainable Building Draft Ordinance would require the city’s commercial buildings and residential dwellings three stories or higher to comply with either LEED or specifications drafted by the Sustainable Atlanta committee. What’s particularly interesting about the pushback is the extent to which it reflects the conclusions in the NIBS report; for example, Keisha Carter, director of public affairs of the Georgia Restaurant Association, stated in a recent piece in Nation’s Restaurant News that “[t]here needs to be more due diligence on this before the city council can even consider passing it. There is a lot of political play going on with this thing, but we’re trying to stay on top of it and be heard. There is major concern that it will pass, but the members of the city council must come to realize it’s not in any shape to be passed just yet.” This comment reminded me of language in the NIBS report which noted that “[a]t an increasing rate, state and local governments and their code/regulatory agencies are adopting building rating / certification systems, intended as voluntary systems, to be their code or regulatory requirements, often without fully understanding their benefits, tradeoffs, and costs.”

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Labor Law Issues May Begin to Impact Green Construction

There have been a couple of interesting articles recently that suggest the pending intersection of labor law and green building. First, you probably read about a complaint that was recently filed with the NLRB by workers who attempted to unionize while installing a green roof on the Target Center in Minneapolis. In addition to alleging a number of safety violations, the workers claimed that the contractor paid them the prevailing wage for landscapers- not for roofers, who earn $20 more per hour. The $5.3 million installation was a city project, and officials, along with OSHA, investigated the workers’ safety concerns earlier in the spring, finding that “the contractors lived up to the specifications of the contract to ensure safety.” From a prevailing wage rate perspective, is the installation of a green roof more akin to landscaping than roofing? This was the contractor’s argument and, I think, a neat example of how green construction practices continue to introduce legal wrinkles into even the most traditional of practice areas. However, what got me thinking a bit more seriously about the intersection of green building and labor law was an article (link after the jump) discussing the California Labor Federation’s two-day conference held earlier this month in San Francisco.

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Mitigating Risks When Building Green Roofs

Green roofs have been a part of building for over a thousand years. The current green building movement has, however, had the greatest impact on the growth of the green roofing industry. A green roof is commonly defined as a roof that consists of vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. There are two basic types of green roofs: (i) an extensive roof, which has a few inches of soil cover; and (ii) an intensive roof that has two feet or more of soil for a variety of grass, trees, bushes and shrubs. Green roofs are used in a multitude of buildings, including industrial facilities, commercial offices, retail properties and residences. The benefits of a green roof include reduced storm-water runoff, absorption of air pollution, reduced heat island effect, protection of underlying roof material from sunlight, reduced noise, and insulation from extreme temperatures. A green roof can thus be a critical design element for a green building. As more properties across the country are attempting to obtain LEED certification, it is worth noting that a green roof can help a property obtain over a dozen LEED credits, including credits for reduced site disturbance, landscape design that reduces urban heat islands, storm water management, water efficient landscaping, innovative wastewater technologies and innovation in design. The increase in green roofs and the green building movement is also resulting in an increase in liability resulting from errors in the design, installation or maintenance of green roofs. As a result, owners, design professionals and contractors should carefully consider ways to mitigate the potential risks involved with building a green roof.

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