What’s Greener than a Net-Zero Energy Building?

Net Zero Energy Certified buildings produce as much or more energy as they use. But they are not the top of the green line! The International Living Future Institute provides certification for projects that meet the requirements of its Living Building Challenge ™. Three types of certification are available: Full Certification, Petal Certification, and Net Zero Energy Building Certification. The Living Building Challenge ™ has 7 Petals, or performance standards: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. The Petals include 20 Imperatives. The pinnacle in green construction, Full Certification, means the project has met “Living Status.” This requires demonstration that the project as built environment can help to restore the natural environment. Petal recognition is not as rigorous, but both must meet the Imperatives for Limits to Growth and Inspiration and Education. To get Net Zero Certification, the project must achieve the Energy Petal, and be net zero over 12 continuous months of performance for energy, waste and water, among other requirements.

The Bertschi Living Building Science Wing in Seattle, WA received Living certification on April 10, 2013. The project included a wall of tropical plants to treat gray water and help to purify the air. Others include the Hawaii Prep Energy Lab, the Omega Center, and the Tyson Living Learning Center.

So far there are only 4 projects in the US to achieve Net Zero Certification. One is the regional office of DPR Construction in Phoenix Arizona, which is also certified LEED®-NC Platinum. Its use of walls of windows and Solatubes® eliminates the need for artificial daylighting 365 days a year! The others include Ideas Z2 Design Facility in San Jose California, Painter’s Hall in Salem Oregon, and zHome in Issaquah, WA. zHome is a 10 unit townhome project, where one of the units will be used as an educational center.

Their mission is fundamental, global, transformative change, no small goal for the future of the built environment!

Submitted by
Peyton White Lumpkin, Esq., LEED A.P.
The Lumpkin Law Firm, P.A.

NASCAR Goes Green

Hello, Race Fans! Anyone who follows auto racing knows that fuel strategy is key to success on the track.  Florida-based NASCAR is attempting to separate itself from the pack by adding electric car charging stations to its LEED Gold Daytona Headquarters.  NASCAR, of course, isn’t the first racing series to focus on off-track fuel matters. For decades, INDYCAR utilized 100% fuel-grade methanol in its open-wheel series.  Methanol is a simple form of alcohol — a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor similar to ethanol (which is also known as “denatured alcohol”). Because it burned colorlessly, the risk of serious burns from methanol to pit crews and drivers from fire was omnipresent. INDYCAR now uses E85, which is an ethanol fuel blend of 85% denatured ethanol fuel and 15% gasoline (or other hydrocarbon) by volume. E85 can be used by “flex-fuel” over-the-road vehicles in the United States and Europe. Currently, compatibility with fuel system components and government subsidies of ethanol have proved a political challenge to the acceptance of and use of E85, especially outside of the corn-growing states in the Midwest. The ethanol controversy has not necessarily found its way to the track. NASCAR, the larger racing circuit in the US, is not one to easily break from tradition on the track. As such, the plug in program in Daytona probably isn’t the first step toward incorporating batteries and photovoltaics into its next “Car of Tomorrow”, though it does run a blend of E15 (15% ethanol, 85% gasoline) fuel. Off the track, NASCAR is a leader, boasting on its web site that it “has the largest recycling and environmental sustainability programs among all U.S. sports, the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility (Pocono Raceway), a tree-planting program capturing 100 percent of the emissions produced by on-track racing, and the largest recycling program in sports with Coca-Cola Recycling, Coors Light, Safety-Kleen and Creative Recycling.” The 20-story NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, NC, also carries a Silver LEED designation.

Submitted by
Casey Colburn
The Colburn Firm, PL

LEED plays ball: Marlins Park is LEED Gold: Sustainable Building Contract Provisions

As baseball season approaches, it seems only right to shine the spotlight on Marlins Park which in 2012 became the first retractable roof building in the world to receive LEED Gold certification.  Marlins Park was constructed for the Marlins by Hunt/Moss, a Joint Venture. Originally planned to obtain LEED Silver, the project utilized a comprehensive strategy to incorporate green elements during the design and construction process, including reduction of water and energy use, a construction waste management system including a recycling program, and regionally-sourced and recycled content materials. Marlins Park received 40 points toward LEED Certification – four more than Populous-designed Target Field – and is the greenest stadium in Major League Baseball. Read more about the stadium here.

Since this is a green building law blog, we wanted to give you a peek at the relevant contract provisions drafted by George Meyer and Lauren Catoe of Carlton Fields who represented Hunt/Moss, the construction manager on the project:
In the Construction Management Agreement, Sustainable Building was incorporated using this provision:

Construction Manager has provided Developer, the City and the County with the estimated incremental costs necessary to achieve the various levels of LEED certification for the Work. The County and the City have informed Developer that they desire to achieve LEED silver status certification for the new baseball stadium. Construction Manager shall make a reasonable good faith effort to cooperate with Developer’s efforts to achieve such LEED certification, including assigning reasonably sufficient personnel to the effort in accordance with the final staffing chart to be established as part of the GMP Amendment.

Construction Manager shall comply with the County’s Sustainable Building Program so long as this does not cause an increase in costs above the costs associated with LEED Silver status certification or negatively impact the Master Project Schedule. If Construction Manager believes that there will be incremental costs directly associated with compliance with the Sustainable Building Program or any adverse schedule impact, then Construction Manager shall promptly notify Developer in writing before incurring such costs, which notice shall set forth the costs and the projected schedule impact to the extent then known. Developer is responsible for all such incremental costs and schedule impacts. Costs associated with LEED Silver certification are not included in the Ballpark IGMP or PI Construction Cost Limitation, but will be included in the GMP.

In the General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, LEED certification was incorporated using this provision:

Construction Manager shall perform the Work in accordance with the specified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles and shall provide LEED certification services as set forth in the Contract Documents. The County and the City have informed Developer that they desire to achieve LEED silver status certification for the new baseball stadium.

This contract was drafted prior to the issuance of the AIA Sustainable Project series which specifically integrates sustainable project elements throughout the project documents. Read more about the AIA SP-Series in “Construction Contracts Are Greener Thanks to the AIA SP Series,” Kibert & Pence, ActionLine (2012).

Submitted by Nicole C. Kibert, Carlton Fields, P.A.
4221 W. Boy Scout Boulevard, Suite 1000
Tampa, Florida 33607
(813) 223-7000

PNC Bank Opens Green Branch® in Fort Lauderdale

PNB Bank Green Branch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

PNB Bank Green Branch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

On February 8, 2013, PNC Bank had its grand opening celebration for its newest and most unique branch, the Green Branch®  at David Boulevard and South Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. This branch is a net-zero energy building.

The branch building consists of 4,900 square feet and has as the same area in 211 photovoltaic (solar) panels. PNC expects to produce an estimated 84,000 kWh/yr while only consuming 78,000 kWh/yr.

The building has many unique features, including:

  • Daylight harvesting will be achieved through the use of sensors that control dimmable light fixtures as natural sunlight increases.
  • The solar panels feed energy directly into a direct current (DC) ceiling grid system that powers high-efficient, LED interior lighting, avoiding energy loss that results from converting DC to AC.
  • The system captures and transfers energy from conditioned air as it exits the building to fresh air as it enters the building and results in reduced cooling costs.
  • To promote healthy indoor air quality, PNC used low-VOC carpet and paint in its flooring, walls, paint, and adhesives.
  • PNC used local and recycled building resources for structural and shell materials, as well as finishes.  98 percent of deconstructed building materials were be diverted from landfills. For example, the countertops were made from recycled paper!
  • Outside there is bioswale that is composed of native Florida species, minimizing irrigation needs.  Natural drainage channels lined with plants will filter out pollutants and permit ground absorption, thus diverting 90 percent of site stormwater from municipal sewer systems.
  • The north wall is covered with a 216 square foot vertical garden featuring various plant species and which, when grown out, will help insulate the building.

As a result, the branch is fifty percent more efficient than the typical bank branch.

Some net-zero elements are being incorporated in the next generation of PNC’s green buildings, including twelve branches that are currently in the design phase.

PNC reports that it was the first major U.S. bank to apply green building standards to all new projects and has more newly constructed LEED-certified buildings (119) than any company on Earth.  PNC opened its first green building in 2000, at which time the 650,000 square foot PNC Firstside Center on Pittsburgh’s First Avenue was the largest LEED-certified building in the world.  In 2009, PNC opened Pittsburgh’s Three PNC Plaza, one of the largest LEED-certified, mixed-use buildings in the United States.  PNC’s most recently constructed green office building is LEED-certified PNC Place, which sits just blocks from the White House and serves as PNC’s regional headquarters in the capital.  The Tower at PNC Plaza, which is scheduled to open in 2015, will serve as PNC’s Pittsburgh headquarters and is expected to be the greenest skyscraper in the world.

Submitted by Howard Allen Cohen
Board Certified Real Estate Attorney
Fowler White Boggs P.A.
1200 East Las Olas Blvd, Suite 500
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301

First LEED Platinum Building in Coral Gables

Sunset elevation with Trees

Sunset Office Center is seeking to be the first LEED Platinum rated building in Coral Gables. The building will include retail and restaurant space. Some of its green amenities include a rooftop garden, shower facilities (a must-have for those who bike to work in South Florida!), and 90% of offices will have a daylight view. It was designed by Portuondo Perotti Architects with LEED consultants The Spinnaker Group. Arellano Construction Co. is the general contractor. Carthage Real Estate, LLC is the leasing agent. All 4 have extensive experience with LEED certified projects. They answered questions on the project:

Portuondo Perotti Architects, Architect:

1. What was the most challenging LEED aspect for designing this particular project? (actual design, not documentation)

The greatest challenge was keeping the integrity of a classical design while incorporating the modern day LEED innovations without compromising the quality of either.

2. Were there any green “firsts” for you (i.e., innovative design features used for the first time in this project)?

While I believe that every building is a first, this is the first time that LEED practices were a primary concern. From the beginning the aesthetics of the building and the inclusion of innovative and environmentally friendly solutions were simultaneously designed to come together seamlessly.

3. What is of particular concern when designing restaurant space in a LEED Platinum building?

Restaurants are high use facilities that have lots of room for innovation in areas such as waste management.  In our building we are encouraging the incorporation of green practices in the restaurants. This can be done through the use of recycled materials, efficient lighting, grease recycling and controlled water usage.

4. Of all the green features, which do you expect to be the most cost-saving compared to non-LEED construction?

The buildings Variable Air Volume HVAC system allows each individual tenant to control the temperature in their respective offices. The benefit to using this system lies not only in personalized comfort for each tenant but increased energy efficiency for the entire building

Arellano Construction Co., Contractor:

1. What is the single best practical advice you can give regarding LEED certified construction?

Communication between all parties is crucial. The basic understanding of what we are trying to do and accomplish is critical in order to properly manage the process. All trades and staff must be mentally ready to undertake the task and full cooperation is imperative in order to ensure proper record keeping and enforcing the assignment, from required back up documentation to field control and finally to proper submittal of all documentation for certification by a LEED point person that has the oversight of the process.

2. How do you facilitate communication among the team members on the LEED aspects so that you end up with the correct products, installation, timing, verification, and documentation?

The process commences with the negotiated contractual agreement between all parties. This is critical since all vendors /subcontractors must abide by the LEED requirements. It is critical that all negotiations include strict adherence to the LEED requirements. In addition, a pre-construction meeting is established to further clarify requirements. Weekly meetings are held with all trades to insure proper procedures and documentation. The field, management team including the LEED point individual must have a full commitment to establish the routine which will eventually bring about the success of this effort.

3. What happens if for some reason the project does not meet LEED Platinum requirements? How do you plan ahead to handle/mitigate this risk?

Not attaining LEED Certification is not an option. However in response to this question, I offer the following:  manage the process by looking ahead starting from the very first day that we have a site meeting. The LEED point person in this case will assess all available points for certification and in many cases offer more opportunities to enhance the LEED certification including other avenues to gain points usually above the original design intent. The opportunity to enhance the point process will not only end up being a good working practice but also assure certification.

Carthage Real Estate, LLC, Leasing Agent:

1. What type of tenant is drawn to a LEED Platinum building? Is main draw prestige, health, cost savings, or general contribution to society through responsible energy use?

1515 Sunset’s LEED Platinum status will offer tenants a chance to be in one of the first LEED Platinum buildings in South Florida.  Tenants will obviously be proud of this and will be able to tell and show their clients the uniqueness associated with a LEED Platinum building.  The cost savings that tenants see, will mostly come from the energy efficiency.  All cooling, lighting, and electrical systems are planned to be extremely efficient.  In addition, the location of 1515 Sunset allows tenants close proximity to their residences and the many amenities offered in the area of South Miami/Coral Gables Shorter commutes allow business owners to be more efficient and at the same time they are helping the environment.

2. Will tenant improvements be affected by the LEED rating?

All tenant improvements will have to be made  in accordance with the guidelines of LEED Platinum, so we will work hand in hand with tenants to make sure that these standards are met.

Submitted by Peyton White Lumpkin, Esq., LEED AP
The Lumpkin Law Firm P.A.
2655 Le Jeune Road
Fifth Floor
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Tel: (305) 667-1808

Habitat for Humanity: Sustainable, Energy Efficient Homes

Green buildings have made the leap from trendy, cutting edge to practical and mainstream.  Habitat for Humanity provides a great example of a construction and operationally budget-conscious green building plan. Mario Artecona, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami (HFHGM), said that they adhere to the following green practices:

  • Appliances:  All appliances, including water heaters, are Energy Star-rated, if possible (for example, Energy Star does not rate ovens).
  • Plumbing:  All plumbing fixtures are WaterSense-labeled, if possible.
  • Local Sources for Materials:  HFHGM uses local suppliers and manufacturers, if possible. For example, the aggregate that is mined for use in our concrete comes from local quarries. This limits the use of diesel fuel for transportation, reducing the overall carbon footprint related to material shipping.
  • Roofing: CertainTeed XT 25, Energy Star-rated roofing that absorbs less heat radiation from the sun than typical systems, is installed on all houses.
  • Exterior doors: Steel and Energy Star-rated doors from Therma-Tru are installed in all houses.
  • HVAC (mainly air conditioning): HFHGM hires subcontractors with Energy Star credentials to install systems that exceed the Energy Efficiency Ratio requirements.
  • Building Envelope:  HFHGM follows other green building practices recommended by Energy Star and the Florida Green Building Coalition, including practices related to insulation, windows (glazing), exterior wall construction, roof pitch and the roof overhang shading coefficient.
  • Landscaping:   HFHGM uses xeriscaping. Native sod, plants, and trees are utilized that conserve water by minimizing its need.
  • Site Design: Incorporates methods to retain rain water so as to allow diffusion of rain water back to the aquifer.

You can see these techniques in the HFHGM house at 765 NW 77th Street, completed in 2011. It received certification by the Florida Green Building Coalition (with a certificate stating the home qualifies for an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)).


For more information, visit HFHGM ‘s website at http://MiamiHabitat.org.

Submitted by Peyton White Lumpkin, Esq., LEED AP
The Lumpkin Law Firm P.A.
2655 Le Jeune Road
Fifth Floor
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Tel: (305) 667-1808

LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND)

 LEED for Neighborhood Development (“LEED-ND “) is a collaboration among the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  The collaboration seeks to develop an environmental strategy that brings sustainability to the scale of neighborhoods and communities. This new venture known as LEED for Neighborhood Development or LEED-ND is a system for rating and certifying green neighborhoods.  The project builds on other LEED systems by expanding its scope beyond individual buildings to a more holistic examination of the context of those buildings.  Through a multi-year research and review process, the LEED-ND partners have identified draft criteria that will guide developments to achieve significant improvements in sustainability. The pilot version of LEED-ND began in February 2007.

During the pilot phase, the LEED-ND rating system is tested against real world projects in order to improve the system and its applicability in the marketplace. The program was tested in 238 pilot projects in 39 states and 6 countries.[1] LEED-ND gives architects a binary checklist of sustainable systems and practices to attain for points. The more points each project earns, the higher the rating, from Standard/Certified, Silver and Gold to Platinum. The current version of LEED-ND is LEED 2009 of Neighborhood Development. There is no minimum or maximum project size for LEED-ND though USGBC posits that the system will work best on projects with a minimum of 2 buildings up to 320 acres. Also note that the project must have at least one LEED certified building in the project.  Accordingly, it is important for the project team to evaluate overall LEED certification plans to control associated costs.

The LEED-ND point checklist is primarily divided into three main categories. The first large category (27 points) is called Smart Location and Linkage and deals with fundamental site planning and context issues. It includes points and prerequisites for protecting sensitive sites like farmland and locations of endangered species.  The second category, and category with the largest point total (44 points), is called Neighborhood Pattern and Design. It deals with general infrastructural development and design, like designing densely populated residences with walkable streetscapes. It also looks at the social engineering role of sustainable development by encouraging the productive collaboration of groups with different incomes and development roles. Mixed uses are rewarded, as well as local food production and reduced parking lot footprints.  The final category is Green Infrastructure and Buildings (29 points). This is where individual sustainability practices and systems make their appearance: using recycled content, reduced water use, heat island reduction, infrastructure energy efficiency, and, of course, developments get points for having LEED certified buildings on-site.  As with all LEED standards, points are also available for innovation (6 points) and design and regional priority credits (a project may earn up to 4 credits based on a project’s location).

LEED-ND has three stages for certification based on development stage: (1) Conditionally Approved Plan – for use during entitlements, (2) Pre-Certified Plan – for use after entitlements have been obtained and while under construction and (3) Certified Neighborhood Development – for use after construction is completed.

LEED Links

General Sustainable Development Information for Lawyers

For a general background in sustainable development for lawyers, you may find my article “What You Should Know About Sustainable Development Projects” The Practical Real Estate Lawyer (March 2009) helpful. It is available on-line at: http://www.carltonfields.com/What-You-Should-Know-About-Sustainable-Development-Projects-04-07-2009/ .  In addition, the American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law’s Green Building and Sustainable Development: The Practical Legal Guide (2009) provides an outline of many of the legal issues related to green building and sustainable development (disclaimer: I am one of the editors/authors).

[1] LEED for Neighborhood Development Sustains the Places in Between Spaces. AIA Architect. October 24, 2008. Available at http://info.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek08/1024/1024p_leednd.cfm

Submitted by Nicole C. Kibert, Carlton Fields, P.A.
4221 W. Boy Scout Boulevard, Suite 1000
Tampa, Florida 33607
(813) 223-7000


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