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

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.

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.

The Philadelphia Zoo recently broke ground on the brand new Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo and Education Center. The Zoo website describes the center as a “joyful, engaging experience for children and families while promoting a lifetime of conservation action through hands-on learningzoo.jpg activities.”

The Zoo plans to construct the new center according to LEED guidelines, making it the first zoo structure to include a green roof, cisterns to recycle waste water and geothermal heating.

The center, which is scheduled to open April 13, 2013 is estimated to cost $30 million and will cover 2.5 acres of land. To date, $18 million has been raised.

According to uwishunu.com, the center will occupy both indoor and outdoor space, and will include the following indoor and outdoor exhibits:

Indoor features include:

  • Exhibits featuring fish, budgies, butterflies and frogs;
  • A hatchery that allows children to observe newborn chicks; and
  • Action stations focused on environmental issues such as water usage, energy consumption and recycling.

Outdoor features include:

  • An 8-stall stables building to house horses, donkeys and other livestock;
  • Overhead trails and bridge systems for monkeys and lemurs;
  • Animal contact yards with rare breeds of goats, sheep and chicken; children can help with animal grooming, feeding and more;
  • Parallel climbing ramps and towers for goats and children alike; and
  • A toddler play area equipped with balance beams and spheres.

Christopher P. Soper, LEED® AP contributed to this post.

To further the efforts to reduce the negative impact that buildings can have on the environment the International Code Counsel (ICC) created the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) to serve as a resource tool to be adopted and administered by governments at any level on a mandatory basis. Specifically designed to produce environmental benefits on a massive scale beyond voluntary rating systems, the IGCC allows governments to customize and shape the code to address that jurisdiction’s specific environmental concerns and goals. The IGCC was developed by the ICC in association with ASTM International and the American Institute of Architects and can be readily used by manufacturers, design professionals and contractors.

The IGCC applies to new and existing commercial buildings and addresses fundamental aspects of green and sustainable building, including:

  • Site development and land use
  • Energy
  • Water and material resource conservation
  • Indoor environmental quality

The ICC recently released Public Version 2.0 of the IGCC during the U.S. Green Building Council’s November 2010 Greenbuild conference. The most significant revision to the IGCC was in the area of energy efficiency, including a switch from Version 1.0’s total annual net energy use to a Zero Energy Performance Index. Further, Version 2.0 requires buildings to use no more than 51% of the mean energy used by similar buildings in the year 2000. Other notable changes in Version 2.0 include new asbestos removal requirements, a 20% water savings beyond U.S. federal standards for residential water closets, and a clarification of design professionals’ responsibilities to the owner to prevent conflicts with state and local requirements.

Code change proposals for Version 2.0 were received through January 3, 2011 and development hearings are scheduled for May 2011 in Dallas, Texas. The first edition of the IGCC is scheduled to be released in March 2012. Once the first edition is released, it will be updated every three years.

The IGCC was designed to be adopted as a code and establish the minimum requirements for green building design and performance. Once adopted, compliance with the code will be mandatory. The IGCC serves to complement, not replace, LEED, a voluntary rating system. While the IGCC creates the floor for green building requirements, LEED will continue to push the limits on what is possible in “voluntary above-code green building rating systems.”

IGCC Public Version 2.0 can be downloaded for free.

On February 16, 2010, Cohen Seglias partner Lane F. Kelman, Esq. will present a program to The Environmental Information Association’s Mid-Atlantic Chapter on the interrelationship between the current trends in Green Building, the environmental industry and building development. Mr. Kelman will discuss topics covering all phases of construction. Specifically, he will address Brownfield Redevelopment as it relates to construction site selection. He will also discuss LEED credits for the use of low emitting materials, indoor chemical & pollutant source control, indoor air quality management planning, LEED pilot credits related to hazardous materials and the effect of hazardous material remediation on LEED building reuse credits. Finally, Mr. Kelman will provide an overview of potential areas of liability in green building.

If you are an owner, contractor or design professional concerned with the effect of hazardous materials on construction projects, this presentation will show you how to remediate and/or limit the use of such materials while simultaneously achieving LEED credits and limiting potential liability.

For more information and to register, please click here. For questions, please contact Lane F. Kelman at (215) 564-1700 or lkelman@cohenseglias.com.

Please check back soon for a post-event recap.


Lane F. Kelman contributed to this post.

The Brooklyn Bridge is made up of approximately 11,000 tropical wood planks that are exposed to heavy foot and bicycle traffic. Due to the heavy use, the planks require routine replacement. The New York City Department of Transportation faces a difficult task in balancing the competing interests of preserving the look and feel of the Brooklyn Bridge while at the same time utilizing sustainable materials. To date, in order to match the existing walkway, the City has used tropical hardwoods – known for their durability and resistance to rot – for replacement planks. Recently, this practice has come under fire from rain-forest advocates who have put pressure on the City to use alternative materials such as synthetic or recycled product. This issue is common when designing rehabilitation projects.

Brooklyn Bridge.jpg

A Possible Solution: The Brooklyn Bridge Forest

One potential solution to the problem of maintaining the Brooklyn Bridge is the Brooklyn Bridge Forest project. This project is the brainchild of Scott Francisco, a Manhattan architectural designer and sustainable-development consultant, who developed the project in an attempt to appease rain-forest advocates while continuing the use of tropical hardwoods to create the planks. Francisco’s project would use money obtained from donations to finance a 5,000-acre forest in a country which has not yet been determined. The City would then use sustainable agriculture principles to ensure that replacement planks continue to come from the forest for the life of the bridge. Rather than use recycled materials, the Brooklyn Bridge Forest involves protection and maintenance of the source of the materials.

Although the idea is creative, the Brooklyn Bridge Forest project is in conflict with the sustainable materials principles established under the LEED Rating Systems. The current plan runs afoul of LEED criteria because the project does not include plans to:

  • Create the planks with recycled materials
  • Obtain the planks within 500 miles of the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Make the planks out of rapidly renewable materials

The Brooklyn Bridge Forest project illustrates the tension between material specifications issued by an owner and LEED accreditation. If this project was one where a developer was seeking LEED accreditation, it would immediately be ineligible to receive credits related to the use of recycled material, local materials and rapidly renewable materials. This problem would be exacerbated on a public projects where LEED accreditation is not optional, but potentially required by local, state or federal law.

As the project progresses, it will be interesting to see if the New York City Department of Transportation elects to partner with Francisco, or if it will come up with an alternative solution more in line with LEED principles.

We will continue to monitor and report on any developments with the Brooklyn Bridge Forest project.

This week is World Green Building Week, and today – September 23, 2010 – happens to be the Green Building Day. In honor of the increased international and national focus on green building initiatives, we wanted to provide a brief overview of green building and LEED certification.

One of the fastest growing aspects of construction today is green building. Due in part to American Recovery and Investment Act, also known as the federal Stimulus Act, and the adoption of environmental code requirements by local and state legislatures, green building continues to grow in both new construction and the renovation of existing buildings. As this industry continues to grow it is important that owners, developers, designers and contractors all understand what it means to be green.

So far, the focal point for the development of green building has been the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED rating system provides certification for new projects based upon earning points in key performance areas. For new construction projects, these areas include:

• Sustainable Sites
• Water Efficiency
• Energy and Atmosphere
• Materials and Resources
• Indoor Environmental Quality
• Innovation in Design
• Regional Priority

To break down the LEED system even further, there are different levels of LEED that can be achieved: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. These levels correspond to the number of credits accrued in the green categories above.

Some incentives for constructing a building that qualifies for LEED certification are: 
• anticipated tax breaks
• energy savings
• occupancy rates
• sale price and rental rates

Once LEED certification has been achieved, it is important to maintain that status for the entire life of the building. The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) recently adopted a policy that allows parties to challenge the LEED certification of a building. Anyone can raise a challenge to the LEED certification and there is no time limit for doing so. This policy has the affect of forcing all those involved with a LEED rated project to maintain the LEED certification documentation long after the project is complete. A project de-certified by this policy will not receive a refund of any of the fees paid to the GBCI and could potentially have state and local incentives retroactively revoked.

Savvy contractors looking to enter the green building market should keep their eye out for new areas of green building. One new area is likely to be sports complex construction. The first LEED certified sports complex was the Portland Trail Blazers’ Rose Garden.

More recently, the Consol Energy Center , the future home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has become the first National Hockey League arena to achieve Gold LEEDcertification.

Pittsburgh is also looking forward to opening a new Eat’n Park at the Waterworks Mall. A company spokesperson noted that, “Ninety-five percent of the materials for this restaurant have been sourced regionally . . . [O]ne of the key things for green building . . . is that you use local resources, and that’s one of the things we’ve done.” The new Eat’n Park will be the first LEED-certified restaurant in the city.

With other green construction projects cropping up, contractors are wise to think “outside the box” and consider developing an expertise in green building no matter what area of construction they specialize in.