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Tag Archives | green building risk management

Can USGBC Improve the Performance of LEED Buildings by Collecting More Data?

Mireya Navarro’s recent piece in the New York Times about the energy performance of LEED buildings does not really shed much new light on a topic that many of us have been paying close attention to for the past two years, particularly in the aftermath of the controversial New Buildings Institute study that claimed LEED buildings performed, on average, 25 percent better than the CBECS database. Nevertheless, Navarro’s piece seems timed to coincide with USGBC’s press release of August 25 that announced a new Building Performance Initiative which will complement the LEED Version 3.0 Minimum Program Requirements’ ongoing performance data reporting obligations in order for projects to maintain their LEED rating and avoid the unsavory potential consequences of decertification. Any commentary on this press release – at least in the blogosphere – appears to have been lost in the August doldrums, but I think it is worthwhile to consider an effort which could ultimately have major repercussions for the underpinnings of the LEED system itself. However, many building scientists will tell you that simply collecting more data does not necessarily translate into improved performance. Consider (after the jump) the following letter that was submitted to the New York Times by ASHRAE Fellow and Distinguished Lecturer Larry Spielvogel, P.E., in response to the USGBC press release announcing the Building Performance Initiative, which Mr. Spielvogel was kind enough to allow us to reprint here at GRELJ.

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Green Building Basics for the Healthcare Industry: A Legal Perspective

Green building design, construction and operation practices have gained widespread popularity in the healthcare industry in recent years, even considering the current challenging economic climate. This trend is likely to continue because green building practices result in both decreased overall life cycle costs and healthier building occupants. This article will briefly examine the background of building green in the healthcare sector, discuss the unique needs of healthcare facilities in relation to green building practices, and finally examine the choices and challenges faced by healthcare facilities in determining whether to design, construct and/or operate a green building facility, with a specific emphasis on the legal issues therein.

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Toronto to Mandate Green Roofs for Most New Construction

Notwithstanding many of the persistent- and still emerging- concerns over the increased risks from their installation, Toronto is on the verge of becoming the first city in North America to mandate green roofs for most types of new construction. By a vote of 36-2 which, according to the National Post, “was adopted after remarkably little debate on the floor of council,” the sweeping legislation requires green roofs on all residential buildings over 6 stories, schools, affordable housing developments, commercial, and industrial buildings.

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NAIOP Responds to Critics by Making Case for Incentives to Boost Efficiency in Commercial Office Buildings

I took great interest in a number of the documents that NAIOP released in the aftermath of its controversial energy efficiency study. The organization has compiled both an FAQ and fact sheet detailing the various assumptions it made and conclusions it drew in an effort to clarify some of the unproductive vitriol that has flown around the web over the past month decrying its conclusion that 30 percent energy reductions are not practicable for the majority of commercial office properties. Both the fact sheet and FAQ are available on NAIOP’s web site and point out that the results of the study do not apply to all buildings; “[t]he study analyzes a typical office building that represents more than 50 percent of new Class A construction [that took place] in 2008.” NAIOP also clarifies that the subject building is a real 95,000-square-foot, speculative commercial office property in California, and claims that the results of its study show what’s possible for the “vast majority of new construction without having to redesign a typical office building,” calling the results “impressive.”

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CoStar, Owner’s Counsel Addressing Liability Aspects of Marketing Green Buildings

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.

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What is Green Real Estate Law?

Over the past six months, the number of attorneys that have become active in the green building space has increased exponentially. But what, exactly, is a green building, construction, or real estate lawyer? How do we define green real estate as a practice area? Over the past two years at gbNYC, I believe that we started to define the parameters of this space, and my aim here at GRELJ is to continue expanding my analysis of the emerging opportunities (and corresponding risks) that green real estate presents to industry stakeholders. To this end, perhaps our most important article at gbNYC was our “Top 5 Legal Issues to Consider on Green Construction Projects,” which we presented a little over a year ago. Two of these issues were at the very heart of the Shaw Development case, and all five are absolutely imperative for stakeholders to consider, particularly given how the current state of the economy is driving so many projects towards litigation.

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