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New federal, state and local mandates and incentives are prompting the increasingly widespread use of green building practices in both new construction and existing buildings.  SPR partner Dan Chorost has authored an article in the May 2011 issue of the Practical Law Journal highlighting this trend.  Incentives are becoming available for building owners who adopt green building practices via voluntary programs under state and local laws.  More recently, governmental mandates have been issued that require owners to integrate energy efficiency considerations into building construction and operations.  Dan’s article summarizes different approaches to green building and describes the relative costs and benefits of using green practices for new and existing buildings.

The article, available here in pdf, describes the origin and purpose of the green building movement, summarizes the voluntary LEED and ENERGY STAR programs, and notes their connection to the ongoing greening of building codes nationwide.  Chorost argues that the combination of voluntary programs and mandates means that performance demands for green buildings are gradually increasing, with LEED and ENERGY STAR setting a higher “ceiling” for performance while building codes create a higher “floor.”  Building owners that comply with LEED or ENERGY STAR may reap various direct and indirect benefits in various jurisdictions, including expedited permitting, waived fees, and zoning bonuses or allowances. 

For private building owners, perhaps the most notable development discussed in the article is the passage of new laws in leading jurisdictions requiring that existing buildings conduct audits and retrocommission their energy systems.  These laws generally require owners of certain large buildings to quantify their energy use, report it, and identify and even implement energy-efficiency upgrades that would result in net savings over time.  For example, in New York City, a new law requires owners of buildings over a certain size to audit and report on their energy use and to retrocommission existing building systems to improve efficiency.  With similar laws being enacted in other leading jurisdictions, this newest green legal trend will continue to accelerate and will become the norm in jurisdictions nationwide. 

  •  Read the full article here.