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The Antitrust Implications of Green Building Legislation (Abstract)

While California’s recent adoption of a state-wide green building code once again has green building legal practitioners focused on the legal issues surrounding green building legislation, the antitrust implications of incorporating LEED or other third-party green building rating systems into state- and local-level legislation has yet to be fully explored.

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Bad Breath(e): New Study Reflects Urgent Need to Green NYC’s Black Smoke

If you’ve been on the street in New York City — and it’s doubtful you’re able to avoid that, unless you use FreshDirect more than I do — then you’ve seen the black smoke belching, all Dickensian and foul-smelling and just-plain-awful-looking, from the chimneys of some of the city’s bigger buildings. The likelihood is that you’ve breathed it in, too. And while it would certainly be a great “whodathunk” story if we could tell you that somehow all that dense black smoke was good for you, this is one of those instances where the intuitive conclusion happens to be the right one — according to a new study by New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity, the soot-laden black smoke that is the main byproduct (along with heat) from so-called Number Four and Number Six Heating Oil is every bit as bad for you as it looks.

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“The Green Tragedy: LEED’s Lost Decade” Now in Print

The Green Tragedy: LEED’s Lost Decade was released while I was away last month. Author and Community Solutions executive director Pat Murphy traces the historical argument promoting minimal green building cost premiums, reviews the ongoing marketing effort behind LEED, and concludes that policy makers should demand energy efficiency standards more akin to the German Passive House rather than “cheap quick ‘green’ solutions.”

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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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National Institute of Building Sciences Identifies Risk & Policy Problems Flowing from Green Building Rating Systems

In September of 2008, the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Building Sciences (“NIBS”) assembled a Task Group of design professionals, builders, and its own staff members to review third-party building performance rating systems and associated individual accreditation programs currently in use across the United States. The Task Group identified twenty systems and programs and interviewed representatives from AIA, ASHRAE, BOMA, GBI, NAHB, EPA, USGBC, and Victor O. Schinnerer & Co.. among others, in compiling its “Report on Building Rating and Certification in the U.S. Building Community,” which was released last month.

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