This blog focuses on real estate, land use and construction-related topics affecting Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area. With topics ranging from contract drafting and negotiation to local and regional land use project updates, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman provide timely insight and commentary on the issues affecting owners, builders, developers, contractors, subcontractors and other players in the industry. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

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Posts tagged energy.
September 17, 2010
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Topics Green

We are joined today with a guest post from our colleague, Phil Keating, with a timely report on Arlington County’s newly released Energy Plan issued by the Arlington County Community Energy and Sustainability Task Force. In addition to being Chair of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Phil is a member of the Task Force and has provided us with some analysis and suggestions:

The Task Force released its draft Energy Plan on September 17, 2010. The plan, truly developed by a group of consultants led by Peter Garforth with input from Task Force members, County Government staff, and other interested parties, is scheduled for a public hearing Thursday, October 21 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Wakefield House School in Arlington. Additional public presentations are scheduled and e-mail comments are being accepted. The schedule for the Task Force contemplates that the Arlington County Board will consider the Energy Plan and move to adopt it in the February to April 2011 time frame.

Deepwater HorizonFor the first time since we started the blog, I have gotten stuck in place unable to write.  Like everyone, I have watched the oil spewing into the gulf with horror, frustration and a sense of the inevitability of this type of disaster when dealing with extraction and transportation of oil.

January 29, 2010
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Topics Green

Empire State Building in SpringThe Empire State Building retrofit project is reaching for rarefied air: improved energy efficiency,  reduced carbon emissions, and rapid and healthy return on investment.  Recent case study documentation for the project suggests this project will hit the ball out of the bark on all fronts.  Highlights include:

An estimated 38% energy savings compared to high level class A office space

A 3.1 year payback on the incremental cost increase to fund proposed energy efficiency measures

  • An 9.2% estimated tenant space savings when increased project costs are weighed against the net present value of energy savings to tenant space fit-outs
  • Reduction of well over 100,000 tons of CO2 emissions over 15 years

The Trends in Building Green panel last Thursday morning was a great success.  There were a couple interesting take-aways from the panel's materials and presentations:

  • Smart property owners need to be taking energy savings seriously; Tommy Russo, Chief Technology Officer of Akridge, described their highly detailed efforts to analyze and implement projects with a reasonable return of investment horizon;
  • Per Tom Mawson, Executive Director of the USGBC National Capital Region Chapter, the "USGBC is all about market transformation"
  • Bobby Christian, CEO of Green 20 Now, LLC, and Mike Scelzi, President of Net Metering, Inc. demonstrated just how far we have come with access to energy metering information, and its implications on operations and cost savings
  • Chris Pyke, Director of Research for USGBC, provided a wonderful overview of where LEED has been and where it may be going, in particular in the context of on-going performance of buildings and where those measures may not match design.  For Chris and USGBC, the question primary question: "Is there a commitment to demonstrated performance ... which is leadership" with regards to energy efficiency and sustainability.
  • I covered some of the press crititiques of LEED, what the actual projects demonstrated, and finally where the performance debate may create significant liability issues in the future

My presentation is here for those who are interested.  Mike Scelzi was also kind to provide his presntation as well.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or are interested in tracking down some of the participants or issues we covered.

January 12, 2010
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Topics Green

LEED Green Building Bellevue Washington I am pleased to invite everyone to attend the upcoming Trends in Building Green Seminar on January 21, 2010. 

Date:       January 21, 2010

Time:       9:00 am - 12:00 pm (breakfast 8:30 am)

Location: National Rural Electric Cooperative Ass'n

                  4301 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA 22203

A full listing of speakers and information is available, but the main topic is on green buildings and energy.  I will be speaking on some of the historical energy related issues with LEED structures, the attention they have received, and what this may translate to in the future both for LEED and liability exposure;  these topics have received a lot of interest and commentary generally, and we have also commented on them frequently here.

Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to Nancy Shipley of Rutherfoord by Tuesday, January, 19 at 703-813-6575, or nancy.shipley@rutherfoord.com.

Image by Wonderlane

January 4, 2010
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Topics Green

Back to the Future RideAs we kick off 2010, it is a good time to make some predictions on the future of green building. While these predictions anticipate a longer time horizon than just the coming year, my bet is we will see some of these trends manifest during 2010. We can also expect that some of these topics will be the subject of a lot of discussion here and elsewhere over the coming year.

November 13, 2009
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Topics Green

Mark TwainThere are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Mark Twain, paraphrasing Benjamin Disraeli

We have a new and very interesting recent report on green building to examine, the Regional Green Building Case Study Project: A post-occupancy study of LEED projects in Illinois. The Illinois report studied a mix of projects of various certifications levels, certified under various versions of LEED, with various applications, that used various baselines, and that used various reporting methods for utilities. The small sample and disparate projects involved lends itself towards a scattershot of data.

We have previously discussed the New York Times article criticizing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its arguable lack of translation to improved energy efficiency.  We also discussed energy codes and their interplay with LEED and ongoing reporting.  More recently, similar concerns were raised with respect to performance of LEED certified buildings at Dartmouth College (hat tip to Rich Cartlidge who wrote a nice piece on this topic with an ensuing series of good comments). Stephen Del Percio of Green Real Estate Law Journal has similarly analyzed the 2007 reports from the University of Massachusetts that found various LEED certified buildings used significantly more energy than anticipated under applicable modeling used for the LEED certification process.

The recent New York Times piece criticizing LEED (discussed previously) has reignited discussion of the potential for decertification after initial issuance of LEED certification. Some previously pointed to the USGBC addition of extended energy reporting for five years after occupancy as a "Minimum Performance Requirement" and the threat of decertification as an enforcement mechanism.  More recently, commentators have predicted recertification programs.  Rich Cartlidge even called for a wedding between LEED for New Construction and LEED for Existing Buildings.

The USGBC changes must be viewed against the backdrop of the development of international, state and local building codes and even Congressional legislation.  Codified efficiency standards would clearly and immediately raise the minimum energy bar across the board and reduce or eliminate some of the arguments raised by the Times article.  Reducing compliance to clear codes may also reduce in part the increasingly complex interface between local authorities interpreting prescriptive codes and the interpretive voluntary third party organization subject to little if any legal challenge or appeal (commented on previously by Chris Hill).   LEED as a voluntary tool has succeeded in driving the dialogue and advancing knowledge of green building.  LEED as a remotely delegated code interpretative structure with limited avenues of legal challenge is far more complicated.