Dawda Mann has significant experience providing legal advice in the area of sustainable business practices from the perspective of a corporation purchasing, selling or marketing products and services within the given market place.
Sustainability is the general term used to describe the goal of improving the quality of human life while limiting human impact on natural resources so as to prevent the depletion of those resources. Recognizing the potential impact that a company’s operations can have on natural resources and human health, many public and private corporations have been proactive and developed sustainability initiatives. These include strategies to limit impacts to natural resources while simultaneously achieving economic benefits. Some of this firm’s clients have employed sustainability practices and realized significant cost savings and market status. Many of these initiatives rely on recycling programs, green technologies and purchasing products that meet criteria for limited impact to human health and the environment throughout their life cycle. Green technologies are products that are specifically engineered to reduce energy or water consumption or limit the amount of chemicals released to the environment.
Two of Dawda Mann’s environmental attorneys have been accredited by the U.S. Green Building Council as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professionals (AP). LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. If you are a developer considering constructing a green building project, becoming a tenant in a LEED building or evaluating green technologies for your sustainability initiatives, our LEED AP attorneys can counsel you on the risks and liabilities inherent in such projects and negotiate contract provisions to reduce those risks and liabilities.
Building construction, operation and demolition have a large impact on natural resources and with the rise of the sustainability concept, several standardized green construction practices (such as LEED, Green Globes and the National Association of Home Builders Green) have arisen to meet the demand of developers and property owners who want sustainable buildings.
ENVIRONMENTAL DUE DILIGENCE
Whether you are a seasoned developer acquiring an undeveloped green field or an entrepreneur purchasing an abandoned urban warehouse to turn into a tech lab, it is imperative that you understand whether there are any hidden environmental issues (such as wetlands, underground storage tanks, asbestos, or polychlorinated biphenyls) on the property. Dawda Mann’s environmental attorneys are very experienced in the area of interpreting an environmental consultant’s results and advising you on how the results could adversely affect your business plans – prior to closing the deal. Dawda Mann’s environmental attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you investigate and navigate these potential pitfalls before it is too late.
Working with a variety of local and national environmental consultants, we have assisted clients on hundreds of commercial real estate transactions, from single properties to large manufacturing companies with operations in several different states. We have counseled large national corporations and small businesses on ways to minimize liability when purchasing properties with polychlorinated biphenyls contamination.
Our goal is to provide you with a clear and concise understanding of the risks identified in a consultant’s environmental assessment and ways of minimizing those risks by drafting and negotiating risk shifting provisions in purchase agreements, leases and other transactional documentation. When necessary, these environmental solutions may also include negotiating deals with federal and state agencies.
WATER AND WETLANDS
Water is a valuable resource for many businesses and individuals and their activities and use of the water is governed by state and federal clean water laws. The environmental attorneys of Dawda Mann are experienced in all aspects of water law.
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, or Clean Water Act (CWA), was enacted in the 1970s to clean up the nation’s waterways. The CWA and related state laws control not only direct discharges of wastewater to surface waters but also indirect discharges via sanitary sewers or stormwater runoff from parking lots and paved surfaces. Activities that impact wetlands are also regulated by the CWA and equivalent state laws.
Dawda Mann’s environmental practice group helps its business clients and individuals understand how their practices are impacted by water pollution control statutes, the regulatory framework of those laws and to make reasoned, calculated business decisions within the framework.
NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENDANGERED SPECIES
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which was enacted in 1969, established a national policy to “encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.” In furtherance of this policy, NEPA requires all federal agencies to take into account certain considerations when engaging in major federal actions that significantly affect the quality of the human environment. Specifically, federal agencies, before granting certain environmental approval, will consider (among other criteria) the project’s impact on the environment and compare the impact with alternatives to the proposed action.
Dawda Mann is experienced in representing private developers. If the project impacts natural resources or requires permits and approvals from the federal government, these approvals can rise to the level of major federal actions that trigger the agencies to investigate the impact of the project through the preparation of an environmental impact statement. The firm’s environmental attorneys work toward the goal of the developer to avoid an agency determination of significant impact which can result in a permit denial and stop the developer’s project in its tracks.
In addition to NEPA, some developments have the potential to adversely impact plants or animals (or their habitat) that are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and similar state laws.
We have represented corporate clients impacted by each of the four main sections of the ESA:
Impacting such endangered species without federal and/or state approval can result in significant civil and criminal penalties. Accordingly, prior to developing a previously undeveloped area, developers should hire an experienced environmental consultant to determine if threatened or endangered species or their habitat is present.
Dawda Mann’s environmental attorneys have significant experience working with NEPA and the ESA and their state counterparts. Working with a variety of local and national environmental consultants, we have helped numerous clients avoid costly and protracted litigation by guiding them through the regulatory process and assisting with the preparation and/or review of environmental impact assessments, endangered species assessments and endangered species mitigation plans. When litigation is not avoidable, our attorneys will help you achieve the best solution possible.
Is Legislative Support for Sustainability Initiatives on the Decline?
For the past 10 years Michigan has created a number of laws that were “sustainability oriented” – intended to promote the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Recently, however, there has been a reduction [...]
Revisions to the Federal Trade Commission “green Guides”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on October 1, 2012 released the revised “Green Guides“, which is designed to help marketers with describing the environmental attributes of their products, so that advertising is truthful and non-deceptive [...]
Congress Extends Wind Energy Tax Credit
Late Wednesday night, President Obama signed a bill that, among other things, extended wind energy tax credits for one year. The Wind Energy Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) and other related tax credits will continue to [...]
GSA Seeks Input on Green Building Certifications for Federal Buildings
Section 436 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the GSA to review (every 5 years) green building certification systems to identify a system that will encourage certification of Federal green buildings. [...]
Observations: MDEQ/DNR Presentation on Oil and Gas Production in Michigan
Last night (April 30th) I attended a public presentation in Troy on oil and gas production in Michigan put on by the DEQ and DNR. The presenters were Tom Hoane from the MDNR’s Mineral Management [...]
When It Comes to Mineral Rights, “No” May Not Mean “No”
Can a property owner be forced to allow the removal of oil and gas from below the property? In Michigan, the answer could be “yes”, regardless of whether the owner consents to it or not. [...]