Potential Effect of Climate Change Regulation on Real Estate Development

Recent activity in Washington, D.C. suggests that the federal government is moving one step closer to regulating greenhouse gas emissions.  US EPA has determined that greenhouse gas emissions are pollutants that endanger the public’s health and welfare.  US EPA’s endangerment finding could lead to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.  Alternatively, a new cap-and-trade bill has been introduced, which would remove greenhouse gases from regulation under the Clean Air Act, but would require a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 85% from 2005 levels by 2050. 

What does the potential regulation of greenhouse gases mean for real estate development? 


Energy-utility companies will be greatly impacted by regulation of greenhouse gases.  Particularly, in Ohio and other Midwest states, where electricity production is almost entirely dependent upon coal-burning, reducing greenhouse gas emissions could be quite costly.  Moody’s has estimated that consumer electricity costs will rise between 15-30% as a result of any cap-and-trade regulation.

With the expectation of increased energy costs, real estate developers should look to energy-efficient building systems or alternative energy sources as ways to reduce these costs.  The Ohio Department of Development and the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority offer grants to help offset some of the initial costs for installing alternative energy sources.  Additionally, tax credits are available for certain projects.

If you would like to learn more about potential climate change regulation and Ohio funding for alternative energy projects, these topics will be presented at the CREW of Greater Cincinnati 2009 Midwest Regional Conference.  The conference will take place April 23-25, 2009 at the Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza.  Other topics presented at the Conference include:  "Successful Urban Renaissance Developments"; "Diversity by Design: Successful Inclusion Projects"; "Case Studies in Brownfield Redevelopment"; and "Capital Markets -- Effects from Washington Decision Making".  

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Financing for LEED-Certified Buildings

If you are building new or renovating an existing building, you may have considered trying to obtain LEED certification for your project but decided after analyzing the cost that it was not within your budget. Well now, thanks to the Ohio Bipartisan Job Stimulus Plan (HB 554), LEED-certified projects may be eligible to receive funding. A little-known agency in Ohio has been tasked with reviewing and approving grants and loans under the Advanced Energy portion of HB 554. With $150 million in funding available over the next three years, this little-known agency, the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA), could become your next funding source.

The $150 million has been divided into two parts: $66 million for clean coal technology projects and $84 million for non-coal related projects (to be distributed in three $28 million annual appropriations). The projects eligible for non-coal related funding include various projects such as fuel cells, increased efficiency in electricity generation, advanced solid waste or construction and demolition debris conversion technologies, and renewable energy resources (wind, solar, etc.). Another category includes, “Any technologies, products, activities or management practices or strategies that reduce or support the reduction of energy consumption or support the production of clean renewable energy.” 


At a recent presentation given by Kimberly Gibson, Assistant to the Energy Advisor at OAQDA, Ms. Gibson noted that “green” building projects may be eligible to receive a grant or loan under this last category. Constructing or renovating your building to be green would reduce the building’s energy consumption, the requirement of this last category. Inclusion within one of the categories is not the only requirement. When determining whether to approve a grant or loan, OAQDA also evaluates whether the project will result in new jobs, will assist Ohio manufacturing, and whether the project is adequately funded.