Last week, Green Building Law Update wrote about the Dillon Rule and how it is thwarting Virginia cities’ green building regulations. Under the Dillon Rule, the Virginia legislature is empowered with passing building codes, thus preempting city building codes or building regulations.

As we detailed, Indiana also follows the Dillon Rule but was successful in passing a green building regulation. The regulation was actually an executive order passed by Governor Mitch Daniels requiring new state buildings to achieve green building certification. You may remember that Governor Tim Kaine passed a similar executive order in 2007 requiring the incorporation of green building strategies in public construction. So how are Virginia cities including green building regulations?

  • Alexandria, Virginia has set a goal “to achieve LEED-Silver rating for all new City-owned facilities over 5,000 square feet.”

  • Arlington County “encourages private developers to evaluate the environmental impacts of all site plan projects.”

Importantly, notice the language in these green building provisions. Virginia cities have recognized that green building regulations affecting private projects must be passed in the Virginia State Legislature and so they either set “goals” or “encourage” green building. But this doesn’t mean the Virginia cities aren’t testing the limits of the Dillon Rule:

Arlington County is deliberately pushing the limits of state law to insist on green standards for development. A decade ago, Arlington pioneered green building standards through its planning and zoning approval process.

Arlington County has created one of Green Building Law Update’s favorite green building incentive structures. Stay tuned to read more about it.

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