Green Building Law Update

Rare Earth Metal Theft by Catalytic Converter

Green Building Law Update

The theft of catalytic converters to sell for the value of the rare earth metal components is a thing once again. A catalytic converter is a component part of the exhaust system of a fossil fuel motor vehicle that catalyzes, or accelerates the break down of vehicle emissions making them less harmful.

There are More than 40 Million People in Modern Slavery

Green Building Law Update

A January 18, 2021 report by the UK Independent Anti Slavery Commissioner is both a wake-up call and a useful guide on preventing modern slavery and human trafficking. In the Western world there are low levels of awareness of the prevalence of modern slavery.

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Carbon Tax Proposed in Portland will be First in the Nation

Green Building Law Update

The City of Portland is proposing a carbon tax that would be the first of its kind anywhere in the country. Given the increased emphasis on climate change by the incoming Biden Administration the proposed ordinance should be on your required reading list.

More Than Green Buildings, Green Roads

Green Building Law Update

If green building is going to repair the planet it will have to include green roads. Over 65% of the impervious surfaces in the U.S. are related to transportation (e.g., roads, parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways), with the vast majority being roads. There are 4,180,817 miles of roads in the U.S.

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You Can't Improve Construction Safety from Inside a Filing Cabinet

How mobile technology can mitigate risk, save money, and provide a competitive advantage.

PFAS in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

Green Building Law Update

The question de riguer in commercial real estate transactions is if PFAS is included in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

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COVID–19 in Buildings is all about Ventilation

Green Building Law Update

This post is about what we know today about how to occupy commercial and public buildings, from offices to schools, in order to prevent the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 (the now designation for what had been the novel coronavirus 2019). If in 1992, “it’s the economy, stupid” was the phrase coined as the message of the day, today as we face another surge in SARS-Cov-2 cases, it should be “it’s the ventilation, stupid.”.

Former Public Officials Indicted on Criminal Charges in Flint Water Crisis

Green Building Law Update

Michigan prosecutors last Thursday announced that 9 individuals have been indicted on a total of 42 counts related to a series of alleged actions and inactions that created the Flint water crisis.

The Birds: Migratory Bird Treaty Act redux without Tippi Hedren

Green Building Law Update

Three weeks ago the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a regulation to finally resolve and codify the legal principal that an incidental bird take resulting from an otherwise lawful activity, for example a sparrows flies into a solar panel, is not prohibited under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Supreme Court to decide Climate Change Case

Green Building Law Update

While this week the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett begins in earnest before the Senate Judiciary Committee, last week the U.S. Supreme court granted BP’s petition for a writ of certiorari in BP P.L.C. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore , a much watched climate change case.

Huh? Ugh! LOL: The Top Ten-tions of Construction Law and Contracts

Speaker: Matthew DeVries, Construction Law Attorney and National Blogger

The construction environment changed more in 2020 than any prior year—whether the parties were faced with government shutdowns, new health and safety restrictions, or overall financial strains. Yet, many projects remained on target and successfully reached the finish line this year. The rights and responsibilities of parties involved in a construction project are mainly dependent upon the contract or agreement between them, and there is no better time than to review your contractual obligations to identify risk pitfalls and ensure success. Join construction law attorney and national blogger Matthew DeVries as he discusses the top tensions on a construction project and how to avoid disputes.

To Make Dishwashers Great Again?

Green Building Law Update

Last Friday the U.S. Department of Energy issued a final rule effective November 30, 2020, that will once again permit American households to purchase dishwashers that actually clean dishes, as they had done for most of the machine’s 130 year history.

EPA Releases Draft National Recycling Strategy

Green Building Law Update

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a draft National Recycling Strategy and is seeking public comment through December 4, 2020, with the goal of finalizing it in early 2021.

Top 10 Environmental Blog Posts of 2020

Green Building Law Update

As we look back at my most read blog posts in 2020, at a time when most of us have accepted that we will never go back to exactly the way things were, we are no doubt collectively ready for a new year, and I am incredibly excited about the prospects for environmental law.

Bird Friendly Building now the Law in Howard County

Green Building Law Update

Howard County, Maryland has become the first jurisdiction in the state and one of few places in the country to pass a mandatory “bird-friendly design” law for new construction of privately owned buildings.

Selling a House with Solar Panels is Fraught with Peril

Green Building Law Update

There are nearly 2 Million houses in the U.S. with solar panels installed on the roof and that number was reached just 3 years after the 1 millionth installation. It can be perilous to fail to properly address rooftop solar panels at the time of sale of a house.

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New Green Building Tax Credit is a Progressive Effort

Green Building Law Update

At a time when the building industry is principally concerned with the impact of COVID-19 and the luster is off green building, the Montgomery County Council last Tuesday unanimously approved legislation “to accelerate the construction of highly energy efficient buildings and green retrofitting of existing buildings.”.

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SEC Alters Environmental Disclosure Requirements for First Time in 30 Years But

Green Building Law Update

A final rule the SEC adopted on August 26, 2020 and effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register may be more significant for what is not in the rule. The rule is silent on ESG disclosures, including climate risk.

HRECs in a Phase l are Not Recognized Environmental Conditions

Green Building Law Update

Among the most misunderstood term in a Phase I environmental site assessment is the Historical Recognized Environmental Condition. The environmental professionals who perform these assessments by and large do not take heed of Eduardo Galeano’s quote, “History never really says goodbye.

2018 IgCC to be Adopted in Baltimore City

Green Building Law Update

This evening an ordinance will be introduced in the Baltimore City Council to adopt the 2018 International Green Construction Code. In the realm of green building this is a big deal.

Maryland becomes First State to Ban Polystyrene this Thursday

Green Building Law Update

During the 2019 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly enacted what will be the first statewide ban of expanded polystyrene foam.

Court Adopts New Evidentiary Standard for Science

Green Building Law Update

In 2020 when science and politics appear to have collided in a car wreck, confidence of the public in scientists is at an all time low. That observed, the public does not often think about the role courts have in accepting scientific theories.

I Just Read my 1000th Phase I Environmental Site Assessment this Year

Green Building Law Update

For those concerned about the state of the environmental industrial complex during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, I can report that last Friday I reviewed my 1,000th Phase I Environmental Site Assessment this year.

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ESG Going the Way of the Dodo

Green Building Law Update

Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Labor put another nail in the coffin of environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) disclosures.

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LEED can Help Mitigate Legal Risks in ESG Disclosures

Green Building Law Update

Public companies in the U.S. find themselves at a dynamic time of emergent environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) disclosures. Vocal socially conscious investors, activist stockholder environmental proxy proposals, and the like are driving companies to make ESG statements.

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New Maryland Real Estate Laws from the 2020 Legislative Session

Green Building Law Update

The 71 day session of the Maryland General Assembly was for the first time since the Civil War cut short from the prescribed 90 days (. of note, the legislature has met for 90 days since the predecessor, appointed not elected, General Assembly of Maryland was first called together in 1635 in St. Mary’s).

Net Zero Certification Program Announced by USGBC

Green Building Law Update

Much as NASA developed dozens of life changing and useful inventions that benefitted all as it raced to the moon, USGBC may be the catalyst for new, cutting edge technologies in the race to net zero buildings. There is no doubt that the newly announced LEED net zero certification program is aspirational. LEED has always pushed market transformation.

Low Carbon Concrete for the First Time Required by Law

Green Building Law Update

The negative environmental impact of concrete, the most common man made substance on Earth, has not been meaningfully responded to in 2020. Cement use in concrete is the largest single material source of greenhouse gas emissions in building. Concrete is the largest single material source of embodied emissions in buildings, and makes for more than 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Maryland Schools will No Longer be LEED Certified

Green Building Law Update

In response to legislation enacted by the Maryland General Assembly in 2018, overriding a veto by the Governor, commencing last week new public school building no longer has to be LEED certified or the like. This is a major change in public policy for the Old Line State that has required by law that all new state funding building be third party certified as green for more than a decade, resulting in 161 LEED certified pre K through 12 public schools. But no longer.

New BREEAM In Use Version in a Changing World

Green Building Law Update

Last week BRE Global announced that the “BREEAM USA In-Use Version 6 for Commercial and Residential” green building rating system has launched. In addition to improvements to the prior commercial building rating system BREEAM In-Use now includes residential for the first time (accepting that existing multi-family building is a very much underserved sector).

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179D Tax Deduction Allocated from Government Buildings

Green Building Law Update

On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation reviving the Section 179D energy efficient commercial building tax deduction and while much has been written about the much needed boost to green building, little has been said about the enormous benefits available from government owned buildings. The § 179D federal tax deduction was brought back from the dead. This was Congress’ tax extenders bill bringing back to life expired tax provisions.

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LEED Prerequisite Now Prohibits Smoking Cannabis

Green Building Law Update

The U.S. Green Building Council issued a LEED Interpretation in 2018 ruling, “smoking of cannabis is considered a form of smoking for the purposes of both the interior and exterior smoking provisions of the LEED Prerequisite Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control.”. The LEED prerequisite prohibits smoking outside the building except in designated smoking areas located at least 25 feet from all entries and operable windows.

When Trees Sue for their Own Environmental Preservation

Green Building Law Update

In the new decade American environmental law will likely expand to include you being sued by the trees. I don’t mean being sued by the Lorax or someone else who “speaks for the trees” but rather the trees will have standing to sue to confront environmental degradation and the like. This movement to empower nature is the single most impactful trend in environmental law.

EPA Rolls Back Proposed “Waters of the United States” Definition

Green Building Law Update

Last Thursday the EPA and Department of the Army announced that the agencies are repealing a 2015 rule that had proposed to expand the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

COVID 19 Commercial Building Liability

Green Building Law Update

With all 50 states now in some stage of reopening from coronavirus pandemic closures, many commercial real estate owners are questioning if they can be liable for damages when someone, whether an employee of the business tenant or someone else, claims to have contracted COVID-19 at their building. Obviously courts have never addressed a situation like the coronavirus pandemic (.

Is There Lead in the Drinking Water of Your Green School?

Green Building Law Update

EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood. Lead is harmful to health, especially for children. Though most lead exposure occurs when people eat paint chips and inhale dust, the EPA estimates that up to 20% of lead exposure comes from drinking water.

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New Lead (Pb) in Soil Standard Now Effective in Maryland

Green Building Law Update

The EPA has described lead as the number one environmental public health hazard in the U.S. And despite that the CDC has in the past identified childhood lead poisoning prevention since 1971 as 1 of 10 great U.S. public health achievements which has included success in reducing human exposures on average, the amount of lead used within the U.S. has since that date actually increased. There is little debate that no amount of lead is safe.

Maryland is First State to Legislate Permitted Use of PFAS

Green Building Law Update

Prior to the just concluded session of the Maryland legislature, the State’s laws and regulations were silent with regard to PFAS chemicals including PFOA. At worst, Maryland could have been criticized along with the Federal government and other states, for failing to regulate PFAS as a hazardous substance. But then, some days ago Maryland did what no other state (nor the Federal government) has done. It passed legislation (. actually 3 separate bills) expressly permitting PFAS (.

A Force Majeure Decision during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Green Building Law Update

There has been much speculation and supposition about the interplay of force majeure provisions in leases and other contracts in response to government orders closing businesses during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but now there is an authoritative court decision that may provide persuasive authority.

Four New LEED Pilot Credits Respond to COVID-19

Green Building Law Update

This blog post is an update to my June 6th post, Two New LEED Pilot Credits Respond to COVID-19 , describing that the U.S. Green Building Council has now added two additional Pilot Credits responding to the novel coronavirus. You may reasonably infer that I have posted an update (.

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