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Green Thoughts from the Scanlan law offices


Monday, October 4, 2010

Green Building Award 1

Here, from Skidmore Owings and Merrill is one of the best building energy ideas I've seen in years.
copyright by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, LLP
Any number of buildings have begun to incorporate vertical wind turbines, but SOM has pushed the idea a huge leap forward. The Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou, China will locate the wind turbine in a venturi.
Just a small breeze will produce energy due to the increased wind speed created by the venture. A strong wind will produce a lot of energy. At the altitude the venturis are located, the Pearl River Tower should expect to receive a great deal of wind energy most of the time.
The venturis may even improve structural stability by allowing strong winds to pass through the building instead of inflicting tipping forces on it. In addition to the venturis, the building incorporates other green energy tools including solar panels, a double skin curtain wall, chilled ceiling systems, under floor ventilation air systems, and daylight harvesting.
copyright by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, LLP
copyright by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, LLP
Need help? Contact John Scanlan

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LEED Merely Mandates Good Engineering Practices

From an HVAC perspective, LEED certification has made good HVAC design and project management practices official doctrine. Rather than simply doing good work as a matter of pride, engineers can be now rewarded for their good work.

Now that LEED certification has become a norm, engineers that already followed good design practices can easily market themselves as Green. Meanwhile others need to catch up.

Before LEED came into being, I worked for a very good design firm called Circle Design Group in Indianapolis. Circle Design Group designed energy efficient systems that were easy to operate, maintain, and modify. Before the term came into vogue, at the end of each project, the firm performed full commissioning of its systems. It was just the right thing to do. Now, engineers can be paid extra for commissioning.

The great accomplishment of LEED is that the engineering practices of firms like Circle Design Group are not just a good idea, they are mandated. Most new buildings seek LEED certification. To receive LEED certification, a building must meet good engineering practices. It must be energy efficient, clean, healthy, and easy to operate, maintain, and upgrade.

Engineers like Circle Design Group haven’t needed to change their practices, but merely document their good work to meet the standard.

Contact Circle Law to set up an appointment

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Let me introduce myself and explain why I think this blawg is important.

I've been an attorney in Denver Colorado since 2002. I received a JD and an LLM in International Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy from the University of Denver. While I operate a general service law office, I try to focus on construction and environmental law issues.

While in school, I took my LLM in an unusual direction, focusing on the relation between natural resources and human rights. I spent a summer working with legal aid clinics in Bosnia in the summer of 2001.

I received my BS from the University of Illinois in Mechanical Engineering in 1984 and an MBA from the U of I in 1990. After graduating from Illinois, I designed building mechanical systems for 15 years. Most importantly, I worked with the Circle Design Group in Indianapolis Indiana.

Circle Design set a high standard for its building systems. We designed green buildings before the term came into common parlance, not even to help the environment, but because they are cost effective. One of my favorite designs used the cooling load from the building for re-heat energy rather than simply discharging it to atmosphere. Unlike in most buildings, according to the design, the building owner rarely turns on the boilers in the summer months.

This blawg will hopefully deal with the intersection between building design and the law. Right now building designers certify a building as Green. But what if the building doesn't live up to its hype?

A building owner pays more up front for a Green Building so that he can not only save on operating costs, but also charge higher rents. If the building doesn't actually meet the standard (for example: LEED Gold or Platinum) claimed by the building owner, this could open the owner to litigation by his tenants. Such litigation could then open the designers and contractors to litigation by the building owner.

It is important to 'get it right' the first time. As designers you need to be sure not only that you've designed a Green Building, but that the contractors have constructed what you designed, and that the building owner understands how to operate the building to meet the standard you have set.

Contact Circle Law to set up an appointment.