Even law schools are capitalizing on the green building movement. The Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School released a Model Green Building Ordinance designed for use by municipalities. The ordinance is specific to municipalities within New York State but can be adopted by other states or even nations around the world with just a few minor tweaks.

“With 40 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. used by buildings, it is clear that a large part of the effort to mitigate the impact of climate change will have to come from efficiency gains in the built environment, particularly through the use of green construction, design and operating practices,” said Michael Gerrard, Director of the Center for Climate Change Law and Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice. “Our vision is for municipal governing bodies to see this model ordinance as a valuable resource.” Source: Center for Climate Change Law

The model green building ordinance includes the requirement that municipalities adopt one or more green building rating systems include the USGBC’s LEED Rating System or Energy Star. Additional measures are included for adopting new versions of existing rating systems or new green construction codes altogether.

For example, if a municipality is examining a new rating system, several criteria must be met including the requirement that the new rating system must be established by either a government agency or a nonprofit organization, the standards must have widespread acceptance and the new system must be based off of recent scientific, engineering and technological knowledge.

Once a municipality adopts a system, compliance standards must be put in place. The model code uses the LEED Rating System as an example: all municipal buildings greater than 5,000 square feet of conditioned space must be LEED Silver certifiable. This does not state that the building must achieve LEED certification but that it must be built to meet the LEED Silver certification criteria.

Ultimately, the certification of a building under this model green building ordinance will fall into the hands of the Green Building Compliance Official, if implemented as proposed. The official will oversee the program, initiate the green building rating system reviews, handle the application process for new buildings and even determine whether the building has meet the requirements of the ordinance.

Read the entire document: Model Municipal Green Building Ordinance (PDF).

Columbia's model green building ordinance
The Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School has published a model green building ordinance.