Venable's work on green projects covers the ground from real estate and construction to the pitfalls of advertising and marketing projects and services as "green."
Real Estate Development and Construction
Fueled by new regulatory requirements, financial and development incentives, and market demand, high-performance and sustainable "green" buildings are now more often the rule than the exception. As federal and state governments increasingly require compliance with the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Rating System and Low Impact Development requirements, Venable's team of land use, real estate, and construction professionals – including attorneys accredited as LEED®-Accredited Professionals by USGBC – advise clients on strategic compliance with these new standards, the particular risks associated with "green" building projects, and the unique considerations involved with the financing, design, and construction of these projects. Venable attorneys also advise developers on stormwater management and green infrastructure requirements, including the availability of participating in stormwater credit trading programs.
Venable Partner Leonard S. Goodman was among the first attorneys nationwide to earn certification as a LEED®-Accredited Professional from the United States Green Building Council—one of less than 200 legal professionals at the time to have earned this distinction. He has negotiated "green contracts" for projects throughout the United States and has published extensively on the subject of sustainable building practices for both new and existing buildings.
Tax and Finance Issues Surrounding Green Investments
Venable is able to guide and assist clients in understanding and qualifying for the tax incentives and credits related to developing green projects, including tax incentives for renewable energy production, energy-efficient homes and buildings, and manufacturers. We offer creative approaches for monetizing these incentives and attracting investors if desired. Venable also helps state and local governments finance their green initiatives, and private-sector clients structure investment funds for investing in "green businesses."
Advertising and Marketing Claims
Producers of "green," "natural," or otherwise "sustainable" products are under scrutiny to properly label and advertise what they sell. Venable assists many clients with product registrations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including ENERGY STAR designations, compliance with Department of Energy energy efficiency testing and certification, and approvals by other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration. Venable also helps companies determine whether their claims are appropriately supported, and helps them avoid exposure to "green washing" claims before the Federal Trade Commission and the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau.
Venable attorneys have represented clients on energy-related advertising issues involving energy supply companies, and in consumer class actions asserting violations of state consumer protection and false advertising laws arising out of the suppliers' respective variable-rate advertising and marketing practices.