Archives: Sustainability

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Lawsuit Challenging Approval of Genetically Modified Animals

Aquabounty 10 to 12 month old transgenic salmon
Last week a coterie of environmental groups sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approving the first ever genetically engineered animal for human consumption, a salmon engineered to grow quickly. The Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Kennebec Reborn, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Cascadia Wildlands, Center … Continue Reading

Now is the Time to Revise your Green Building Contracts

Today is the day to revise your contracts for sustainable projects. With the U.S. Green Building Council’s recent announcement that all new projects registering for LEED 2009 beginning later this week, on April 8, 2016, will need to satisfy increased minimum energy performance thresholds, everyone involved with LEED projects should promptly review their contract documents … Continue Reading

Wipe Out Zika Virus Carrying Mosquitoes with Pesticides

“Mosquito borne diseases are among the world’s leading causes of illness and death today. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million clinical cases each year are attributable to mosquito borne illnesses. Despite great strides over the last 50 years, mosquito borne illnesses continue to pose significant risks to parts of the population … Continue Reading

Sustainable Agriculture Standard Announced

Recent foodborne illness outbreaks at Chipotle despite use of ingredients that are “organic, responsibly raised meats, pasture raised dairy,” and “non GMO” have left consumers looking for better and other standards for agricultural products. Almost on cue (despite being in the works for more than 4 years), Leonardo Academy has announced that its LEO 4000 … Continue Reading

LEED Buildings and the Zika Virus

Owners of LEED buildings should evaluate the need to apply insecticides, killing mosquitoes to protect occupants from the Zika virus. Zika virus has been sweeping through South and Central America, with more than a million suspected cases during the past few months, along with a substantial increase in reporting of infants born with microcephaly. Although … Continue Reading

More Robust Enforcement of SEC Climate Change Disclosures

A great deal of attention has been paid in recent days to a 5 year old Securities and Exchange Commission guidance, “Commission Guidance Regarding Disclosure Related to Climate Change,” which seeks to provide transparency to investors on the material risks posed by climate change. Recently The Los Angeles Times reported Exxon Mobil is under investigation … Continue Reading

TSCA on the Cusp of being Overhauled by Congress

LEED Materials and Resources credits
The federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976 to protect the environment and the public’s health against risks posed by chemicals in materials in commerce. Forty years later, there is general agreement that TSCA has not kept pace with the marketplace and Congress is on the cusp of overhauling the law and … Continue Reading

USGBC Certifying Green Parking Garages Déjà Vu

Last month the U.S. Green Building Council announced that its certification body, the Green Business Certification Inc. will now administer the Green Garage Certification Program with its acquisition of the Green Parking Council. In spite of the speculation over whether Uber means more car miles or less and what impact Zipcar and other car sharing … Continue Reading

PACE Programs are Stepping Up the Pace

Property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs, where payments for energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy improvements to commercial real estate are made through a building owner’s property tax bill are beginning to hit their stride. PACE state enabling statutes generally authorize local governments to work with private sector lenders to provide upfront low interest … Continue Reading

Nevada Stops Subsidizing Net Metering

Photovoltaic panels provide electricity at yak herder's house in Bhutan
In the final days of 2015, Nevada became the front line in the nationwide debate over energy policy when the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada cut rates for net metering impacting homeowners with rooftop photovoltaic panels. The 113 page draft order found that under existing net metering rates other ratepayers were subsidizing net metering customers … Continue Reading

LEED Dynamic Plaque Coming to a Building Near You

Mahesh Ramanujam and Scot Horst discuss the LEED Dynamic Plaque at Greenbuild
With LEED Dynamic Plaques starting to appear in building lobbies it is a good time to understand this new U.S. Green Building Council platform. It is a whole lot more than a 7 lb. display unit. While we are aware of six LEED Dynamic Plaque certifications, according to the USGBC, the Dexter Horton Building in … Continue Reading

GRESB is Huge with $2.3 Trillion in Real Estate so Follow the Money

GRESB at Greenbuild 2015
Representing a huge share of the market capitalization of real estate across the globe, this year, 707 real estate companies and funds, with over 61,000 properties, having an aggregate value of $2.3 Trillion reported their environmental, social and governance information to Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). To appreciate the order of magnitude of those … Continue Reading

Pension Funds Must Now Consider Environmental, Social and Governance Factors

You may not have noticed, but with over $9 Trillion invested in U.S. pensions you should care that the U.S. Labor Department released Interpretive Bulletin 2015-01 providing guidance on the investment duties of pension plans when considering investments, now requiring that they take into account environmental, social and governance factors. It is significant that the … Continue Reading

Arbitration including Religious Arbitration in Green Building Contracts

There has been much recent discussion about mandatory arbitration since a series of New York Times articles earlier this month describing how, “.. clauses buried in tens of millions of contracts have deprived Americans of one of their most fundamental constitutional rights: their day in court.” The U.S Chamber of Commerce even responded, the “New … Continue Reading

Harvard Business Review Adds Environmental Performance to Ranking CEOs

It is significant when the Harvard Business Review alters its methodology in ranking the best performing CEOs in the world to now take into account a company’s environmental performance. Increasingly CEOs are coming to appreciate it is okay to make a profit while saving the planet. Harvard Business Review’s self described mission is “to improve … Continue Reading

WELL at the Intersection of Human Health and Green Building

“This could be bigger than anything in real estate since the invention of the roof,” according to Paul Scialla, the founder and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute. This “may be the most marketable proposition in real estate short of a front lawn overlooking the Fountain of Youth,” was how a recent Bloomberg Business … Continue Reading

Opportunities Shine in Community Solar

People across the United States are seeking alternatives to conventional energy sources. Motivations vary from concerns over global warming to increasing energy independence, and hedging against rising fuel costs to because it is chic to be green. Advances in solar technology have made photovoltaics a much sought after energy alternative. But a 2008 study by … Continue Reading

You Should Comment on the Revised Green Globes Standard

Last Friday was the beginning of the public comment period on the Green Building Initiative’s revision to its ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings that forms the basis for the current version of Green Globes for New Construction. Nearly 1000 buildings are Green Globes certified in the U.S. today. The revised Standard … Continue Reading

Climate Change Disclosures by Public Companies

In recent weeks this law firm has received more inquiries than at any time in recent years about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s disclosure requirements for public companies as they apply to climate change matters. Possibly the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule for emission reductions for existing power plants triggered this heightened level of interest … Continue Reading

Government Ownership of Rain is Antithetical to Increased Potable Water

Collecting rain and using it for a desired purpose on one's own property should no longer violate the law. Utah's decriminalizing precipitation collection may be a model for the nation. Tucson may have gone too far in mandating rain collection for landscaping. But is it too farfetched to imagine government increasing potable water by not only making it legal but even offering incentives, like Albuquerque, for collecting rain?… Continue Reading

In the Name of Clean Water Millions of Acres are Proposed for Federal Control

It has been over 40 years since the Cuyahoga River caught fire and spurred the 1972 passage of the Clean Water Act. ... efforts to use the CWA to 'clarify' a definition of navigable water from the 1899 Rivers and Harbors Act does not serve the potable water issues that the nation faces today. ... The new rule is proposed to be effective 60 days after Federal Register publication.… Continue Reading
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