DVGBC-logo-150x150Liability in Green Building

On June 13th, join Lane Kelman and Jennifer Budd for their Delaware Valley Green Building Council Lunch & Learn on liability in green building. The Lunch & Learn will be held at the Philadelphia office of Cohen Seglias where lunch will be provided. GBCI and AIA credits available.  Continue Reading Delaware Valley Green Building Council Lunch & Learn: Liability in Green Building

In recent years, concepts such as “green construction” and “renewable energy” seem to have become almost commonplace. In what is perhaps an effort to lead the world by example in these areas, President Barack Obama recently issued a Presidential Memorandum that calls upon federal agencies to increase drastically their use of renewable energy sources.

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The Memo outlines ambitious goals that seek to more than double the federal government’s current use. The Memo targets the use of renewable energy sources for 20% of the government’s energy needs by 2020. To achieve this goal, federal agencies must ensure that their renewable energy usage exceeds 10% of all energy usage by 2015, 15% in 2016 and 2017, and 17.5% in 2018.

Since the federal government occupies nearly 500,000 buildings across the country, the Memorandum zeroes in on building performance and energy efficiency. It prioritizes the installation of renewable energy sources directly on federal property as an ideal way to realize the targets set forth in the Memo.

Implementation and Measures

To measure the performance of federal buildings, energy and water meters are to be installed in all federal buildings where installation is cost-effective and appropriate. To promote and ensure compliance, transparency, and benchmarking, data collected from the meters is to be reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and Green Button.

Notably, the Memo is to be implemented in a manner consistent with Executive Order 13514, which was issued in October 5, 2009. This Executive Order requires new construction and major renovation on federal buildings to be considered “high performance” or “sustainable.”

What Does It Mean for the Construction Industry?

With these new goals and priorities in place, the sustainability and construction industries should expect to see an increase in the installation of renewable energy infrastructures across the country. In fact, a Presidential Memorandum dated December 2, 2011 authorizes and encourages federal agencies to enter into energy savings performance contracts for up to 25 years.

However, agency funding for energy projects remains a concern. Although many trade organizations and other industry activists have applauded the goals set by the Memorandum, the procurement processes, which have allowed large private companies to install renewable energy infrastructures through long-term power purchase agreements, are still unavailable to the federal agencies. With regard to new construction, it will be interesting to see whether and to what extent the federal government incorporates renewable energy sources into those projects.

All told, President Obama’s Memorandum gives reason for optimism within the industry, but that optimism should be guarded while funding and other implementation issues remain up in the air.

Lane F. Kelman is a Partner with the Firm and a member of the Construction Group and chair of the Green Building and Sustainability practice group. He represents developers, general contractors, construction managers and the different trades in complex matters ranging from bid protests, contract negotiations and claim prevention & management.

Jennifer R. Budd is an Associate with the Firm and a member of the Construction Group.

Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an Associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Lori practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual disputes.

As the Greenbuild 2013 posters, web cafés and stages are removed from the Convention Center in Philadelphia, attendees and exhibitors from across the country have been reenergized in thinking about green building, sustainability and resiliency. From November 18-22, Philadelphia was painted green by thousands of professionals from all sectors of the sustainability movement. Here is a brief recap of the week’s activities and some comments from attendees and exhibitors.

  • greenbuild1-thumb-206x205-25410.jpgOver 700 exhibitors presented their sustainable design, products and construction during the two-day expo including regional industry leaders such as W.S. Cumby and Revolution Recovery.
  • Green Building tours highlighted Philadelphia’s best sustainable buildings and neighborhoods including the Tastykake Bakery, The Stable, US Airways Ground Support Equipment Maintenance Facility, Morphotek’s Pilot Plant, Longwood Gardens, the Morris Arboretum, the Navy Yard, Temple University and Penn Charter School, just to name a few.
  • Onion Flats, a Philadelphia based developer and design-builder, showed off their LEED and “Passive” certified row homes throughout the City that are changing the way Philadelphians think about urban living.
  • The U.S. Green Building Council outlined the themes, strategies, and key elements of the LEED v4 green building program; which it launched at Greenbuild.
  • Members of the public sector from the City of Philadelphia to federal government entities, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. General Services Administration, explained how sustainability practices are being implemented into their design, procurement and building.
  • On Thursday evening, the Greenbuild keynote address was delivered by former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who spoke about the importance of sustainability on a world stage. Secretary Clinton also detailed her efforts in creating a greener White House when she was the First Lady, and later ensured that all future U.S. embassies be built to a minimum of a LEED Silver standard.

Heather Blakeslee, the Deputy Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (“DVGBC”), had this to say about the week:

DVGBC always looked at Greenbuild as a way to showcase the region’s work. We had an absolutely impressive showing of local companies at the Expo, an unprecedented number of local presenters who are leaders nationally and internationally, and the most robust tours program to date for Greenbuild. We’re looking forward to building on that momentum by continuing to work on initiatives that make our communities stronger.

Although Greenbuild will be moving onto New Orleans, Louisiana in October 2014, the lessons learned from the week in Philadelphia will continue to be seen and implemented. For starters, CSPG&F partners John Greenhall and Lane Kelman served on the DVGBC’s Legacy Project Committee that created a youth-built “Adventure Playground” at Smith Memorial Playground in East Fairmount Park. The playground includes loose parts that allow children to continuously build and re-imagine the space.

If you are interested in presenting at Greenbuild 2014, check out the “Call for Proposals.”

Lane F. Kelman is a Partner with the Firm and a member of the Construction Group and chair of the Green Building and Sustainability practice group. He represents developers, general contractors, construction managers and the different trades in complex matters ranging from bid protests, contract negotiations and claim prevention & management.

Jennifer R. Budd is an Associate with the Firm and a member of the Construction Group

By: Lane Kelman and Lori Wisniewski Azzara

In an effort to reduce exposure to diesel exhaust in and around construction areas, on January 18, 2013, the US Green Building Counsel announced a Clean Construction Pilot Credit that can count toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.  The Pilot Credit requires projects to develop and implement a plan to reduce emissions from non-road and on-road diesel fueled vehicles, construction equipment and temporary power generation used during construction.  The program sets pollution and emission standards for vehicles and equipment, engine idling limitations, staging area location requirements and data reporting requirements for the specific equipment utilized on the project.

“Providing an opportunity to achieve credit toward LEED certification for use of clean diesel construction equipment during the construction phase makes perfect sense,” said Christopher Grundler, director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.  “Application of the Clean Construction pilot credit will help protect the health of workers and neighboring residents by reducing exposure to higher concentrations of particulate matter from older diesel equipment.”

The EPA, through its National Clean Diesel Campaign , suggests the following to ensure the success of a project’s clean diesel policy:

  • Include clean diesel specifications or performance standards in contract language;
  • Emphasize the clean diesel policy during the bid process and throughout construction;
  • Hold construction managers accountable for implementing the policy; and
  • Fully educate all contractors on clean diesel requirements initially and throughout the duration of the project.

The Clean Construction Pilot Credit is part of the LEED Pilot Credit Library , which is a developmental tool designed to test new and revised LEED credit language, alternative compliance paths and new or innovative green building techniques and concepts.  It establishes a forum for project teams to provide comments and feedback, which are then utilized by the USGBC to evolve and refine the pilot credits during the testing period.  Those successful pilot credits have the potential to be standardized and ultimately incorporated into the LEED rating system and scorecard.  Projects can pursue an unlimited number of pilot credits; however, the number of points awarded is limited by the number of innovation credits available (up to 5 for LEED 2009 projects).

Lane Kelman is a Partner at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. He represents developers, general contractors, construction managers and the different trades in complex matters ranging from bid protests, contract negotiations and claim prevention & management.

Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an Associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Ms. Azzara practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual disputes.

greenbuild.jpgGreenbuild International Conference and Expo is coming to Philly November 20-22, 2013 and we are actively seeking proposals for the annual Legacy Project. The Legacy project could be anything from a straw bale playhouse or school gardening space to a solar energy learning lab, vertical gardens or some kind of new art installation that has a lasting, positive effect on the environment in some way. The idea is that the legacy project will provide a significant contribution to greening Philly while at the same time offering a learning opportunity to an underserved community, ideally showing a commitment to not only green building and sustainability but also to Philadelphia and its diverse communities. Have ideas? Send in your proposal today, let’s show the word just how green Philly can be! #GREENBUILD

 

Learn more here: Greenbuild 2013 Philadelphia: Call for Legacy Project Proposals

By: Lane Kelman and Lori Wisniewski Azzara

After three years of public hearings and input from industry specialists, the International Code Counsel (ICC) recently released the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC), which is the first model code to include sustainability measures for an entire construction project and its site – from design, through construction, certificate of occupancy and beyond. The American Institute of Architects and ASTM International cosponsored the project with support from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Illuminating Engineering Society.

Aimed at making buildings more efficient and reducing waste, the IgCC is a tool that provides direction and standards for green design and construction. The Code’s model language establishes a baseline for new and existing buildings related to energy conservation, water efficiency, site impacts, building waste, material resource efficiency and other sustainability measures.

“[T]he Code Council and its sponsors announce a new green construction code that will make a contribution toward healthier, lower impact, and more sustainable building practices,” said Richard P. Weiland, CEO of the ICC. “Our community was diligent in developing a code that is not only adoptable, usable and enforceable, but also flexible and adaptable. We expect this new model code, like the family of other ICC Codes, to be adopted across the country and used globally.”

The IgCC is designed to serve as an overlay to the existing set of International Codes and complements LEED and other voluntary third-party certifications. Once adopted, the IgCC offers flexibility to jurisdictions by establishing several levels of compliance, starting with the core provisions of the code, and then offering requirement options that can be customized to fit the needs of a local community. A jurisdiction can also require higher performance through the use of “project elective” provisions based on the code. “Coordinated with the ICC family of codes, the IgCC is designed for use in communities that are pursuing sustainable construction above and beyond the traditional level of requirements in our codes,” said William D. Dupler, ICC Board President.

The relevance of the IgCC is dependent upon adoption by jurisdictions across the country. Several state and local governments, including Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Oregon, have already put into place earlier versions of the IgCC that were released during its development. We will continue to monitor the IgCC’s adoption throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Lane Kelman is a Partner at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. He represents developers, general contractors, construction managers and the different trades in complex matters ranging from bid protests, contract negotiations and claim prevention & management.

Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an Associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Ms. Azzara practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual disputes.

Green building is more popular than ever, and achieving LEED certification for projects is a mark of distinction. Construction companies and developers need to understand how they can effectively manage the risks and reap the rewards of these projects. Please join us for a panel discussion where industry professionals, including Lane Kelman and Jonathan Cass, will provide an overview of green building and address the financial and liability issues unique to sustainable development.

For further information, or to register, please see the full event invitation here.

 

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By: Lori Wisniewski Azzara and Jennifer M. Horn

According to a recent report from the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-certified existing buildings are outpacing their newly built counterparts for the first time. As of December 2011, the square footage of LEED-certified existing buildings surpassed LEED-certified new construction by 15 million square feet on a cumulative basis.

“The U.S. is home to more than 60 billion square feet of existing commercial buildings, and we know that most of those buildings are energy guzzlers and water sieves,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council. “Greening these buildings takes hands-on work, creating precious jobs especially for construction workers. Making these existing buildings energy and water efficient has an enormous positive impact on the building’s cost of operations. And the indoor air quality improvements that go with less toxic cleaning solutions and better filtration create healthier places to live, work and learn.”

Historically, LEED-certified green projects have been overwhelmingly made up of new construction projects, both in volume and square footage. That changed in 2008 when the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (O&M) program began experiencing explosive growth. In 2009, projects certified under that program surpassed those certified under its new construction counterpart on an annual basis, a trend that continued in 2010 and 2011.

Projects worldwide are proving that green building doesn’t have to be synonymous with building new. The recently LEED Gold certified Empire State Building has predicted that its renovation efforts will reduce the building’s energy consumption by more than 38 percent, an annual savings of $4.4 million in energy costs. Similarly, the Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world, earned LEED Platinum certification after a three year long retrofit successfully enabled the skyscraper use 30 percent less energy, thereby reducing its annual utility costs by $700,000.00.

Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Ms. Azzara practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual disputes.

Jennifer M. Horn is Senior Counsel at Cohen Seglias and a member of the Construction Group. She concentrates her practice in the areas of construction litigation and real estate.

By: Lori Wisniewski Azzara and Jennifer M. Horn

As a follow up to its 2006 report, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has issued a new report – Rooftops to Rivers II – that provides case studies for 14 geographically diverse Stormwater.jpgcities that employ green infrastructure solutions to address stormwater challenges. These leading cities, which include Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, have recognized the beneficial uses to stormwater, thereby reducing pollution and overall costs.

The NRDC estimates that 10 trillion gallons of untreated stormwater runs off of roofs, roads, parking lots and other paved surfaces a year. By implementing a green infrastructure, cities can not only save money but also minimize stormwater pollution and sewage overflow problems. The report recognizes the multitude of benefits a green infrastructure provides over conventional infrastructures (i.e., underground storage systems and pipes), particularly its cost-effectiveness, flood resilience and augmented local water supply.

The report identified six key actions that cities should take to maximize their green infrastructure investment and become “Emerald Cities,” including:

  • Developing a long-term green infrastructure plan;
  • Enforcing a strong retention standard for stormwater;
  • Requiring the use of green infrastructure to reduce and manage runoff;
  • Incentivizing residential and commercial property owners to install green infrastructures;
  • Providing assistance in accomplishing green infrastructure; and
  • Ensuring that a long-term and dedicated funding source is available to support the green infrastructure investment.

Of the 14 cities, Philadelphia was the only city to achieve all six Emerald City criteria and is the nation’s first city to formally commit to using green infrastructure as the primary means to satisfy its sewer overflow obligations. Pittsburgh achieved one of six Emerald City criteria by passing an ordinance that establishes stormwater volume reductions standards, including a requirement that developments larger than 10,000 square feet retain the first inch of rainfall on-site.

Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Mrs. Azzara practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual disputes.

Jennifer M. Horn is Senior Counsel at Cohen Seglias and a member of the Construction Group. She concentrates her practice in the areas of construction litigation and real estate.

As many in the industry are aware, Maryland became the first state to fully adopt the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) when Governor Martin O’Malley signed HB 972, effective March 1, 2012. In response to our IGCC blog post on this issue, authored by Lane Kelman, readers raised a multitude of questions that highlight a vast amount of confusion regarding the legislation. The questions range from the impact on the construction industry to the interpretation and application of the House Bill. A number of the issues that have been raised necessarily call into question the clarity of the legislation and, in turn, create legal issues. Some of the questions that have been raised are:

  • What does the adoption of the IGCC mean for Maryland in the short and long term?
  • Does House Bill 972 give a Local Maryland Jurisdiction the alternative of adopting the IGCC in addition to the Maryland Building Performance Standards?
  • If a Local Maryland Jurisdiction adopts the IGCC, is compliance mandatory?
  • What does the legislation mean for developers and contractors?
  • Is Maryland’s HB reflective of a national trend?
  • Look for upcoming Blog posts on this important issue.

We will continue to report on the answers to these questions as the answers are clarified in the legislation. In the meantime, please contact Lane Kelman or Jennifer Horn with questions.