Green Building Policies: Center for Climate Change Law releases green building ordinance


A Model Green Building Ordinance was released Thursday, Oct. 14th, by the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School for use by municipalities looking to promote the construction and design of new buildings that make efficient use energy, water and materials.

The model ordinance, a result of over a year of work and consultations with dozens of stakeholders, is designed to be readily adopted by local jurisdictions.

“With 40% 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.

Current municipal green building ordinances vary widely in content, coverage, and quality of drafting. Many smaller localities cannot devote sufficient resources to form a fully developed green building ordinance. To this end, the model ordinance compiles the best aspects of green building ordinances nationwide, and is structured to avoid the legal pitfalls encountered by some municipal ordinances.

The ordinance is designed for New York State municipalities, but with minor revisions can be readily adopted in other states, if not around the world, Gerrard said.

“Our vision is for municipal governing bodies to see this model ordinance as a valuable resource,” Gerrard said.

The model ordinance, together with extensive commentary, legal analysis, and other supporting documentation, is available for download at the Center for Climate Change Law’s website,

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