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Science Meets Government: MassDEP Moves Forward With Contingency Plan Regulations

  
  
  
MassDEP Contingency Plan

Written by: Ronald W. Ruth and Kevin Hall

Last month, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) promulgated several important amendments to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP), which sets forth the procedures and standards for remediation of environmental contamination. The amendments aim to increase regulatory efficiency while maintaining a high standard of environmental protection by eliminating unnecessary permit requirements, increasing transparency with regards to site closure conditions and updating cleanup standards based on the most recent science.

For example, one amendment addresses the recent change in scientific understanding of the relationship between residual petroleum and future site use. Residual petroleum, a relatively common complication of contamination, is essentially a thin “film” of petroleum existing in a “separate phase” of the surrounding soil and groundwater (think oil and vinegar). In the MCP, this “separate phase” is referred to as a nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL). The old MCP contemplated a NAPL upper concentration limit (UCL) which required the “film” to be less than ½ inch regardless of NAPL mobility and/or contamination risk.

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The Basics: Massachusetts Contingency Plan - Massachusetts Chapter 21E

  
  
  
Massachusetts Chapter 21E Harzardous Materials

Written by: Ronald W. Ruth

Many of our clients are very familiar with oil and hazardous materials law and how contamination can significantly affect real estate ownership and/or development. Other clients are not. They may be clients from abroad or those who are new to the real estate ownership and development.  The following is intended for them as an introduction to the vocabulary, concepts and regulatory structure.

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7 Tips for Financing Solar Projects

  
  
  
Solar Financing

Written by: Bethany A. Bartlett

As the warm weather approaches, we see the usual signs of spring which, in a good year, includes an increase in commercial development and corresponding financing transactions.  Most notably this year is the increase in financing requests for solar projects, including construction, permanent, bridge and mini-permanent loan options.  Below is a list of tips we have assembled to make your solar project more readily financeable.

Boston Building Energy Reporting Ordinance Proposed

  
  
  
Boston Building Enerfy Reporting Ordinance

Written by: Jack Slater

Recently, Mayor Menino filed a proposed Ordinance with the Boston City Council to require owners of medium and large sized residential and commercial buildings in Boston to report energy and water use to the Boston Air Pollution Control Commission ("APPC"), a unit of the City’s Office of Environmental and Energy Services (“EES”).  Reporting would be required on an annual basis and will initially take effect for certain buildings in 2014.  The APCC is authorized to develop detailed regulations for the reporting and disclosure of the information to be required of building owners.  A copy of the proposed Ordinance is attached and the following is a link to a fact sheet provided by the City.

A summary of the proposed schedule for implementing the reporting requirements in the Ordinance is, as follows:

  • Non-residential buildings of 50,000 s.f. or more, 2014;
  • Residential buildings with 50 units or 50,000 s.f. or more, 2015;
  • Non-residential buildings of 25,000 s.f. or more, 2016; and
  • Residential buildings with 25 units or 25,000 s.f. or more, 2017.

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Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels: Taking a Local Look at a Global Problem

  
  
  
Preparing for the Rising Tide

Written by: Peter Friedenberg

The Boston Harbor Association recently released a sobering report entitled “Preparing for the Rising Tide” which assesses Boston’s vulnerability to the coastal flooding we are likely to experience as a result of ongoing climate change.  Some of the “matter of fact” statements in the report are chilling to read:

  • Current climate change evidence indicates that sea levels may rise by up to 2’ in Boston by 2050 and by up to 6’ by 2100.
  • “If Superstorm Sandy” had hit Boston at high tide (as it did in New York City), rather than at low tide, up to 6% of Boston would have been flooded that day.
  • What is now a “100-year storm surge” is likely, because of increased climate change and rising sea levels, to be merely a “5-year storm surge” by 2050, and may be a daily high tide occurrence by 2100.
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Massachusetts "LEEDs" the Way

  
  
  
LEED buildings MassachusettsWritten by: Deborah Howitt Easton

In 2007, when I became a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional, many wondered if the green building movement was going to end up as more than a passing trend.  It is clear now that green construction principles are here to stay and are increasingly becoming the norm.  As the cost premiums for building green have declined, the viability of sustainable construction methods has been validated and the market demand for green buildings has increased we are seeing more construction projects seeking LEED certification and Massachusetts leads the way on that front.

At the end of January 2013, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual list of the top ten states (including the District of Columbia) for new LEED certifications for 2012.  Massachusetts moved up 3 positions from 2011 to a 4th place ranking behind the District of Columbia, Virginia and Colorado.  According to the USGBC, in 2012, 106 projects in Massachusetts (totaling just under 13.4 million square feet of space) obtained LEED certification.  While many of the LEED certifications in Massachusetts last year, and historically, were obtained in connection with public building projects (not surprising, given the governmental requirements that certain projects obtain specified levels of certification), the number of private development projects seeking certification is on the rise (literally).  The year 2012 saw the first LEED Platinum skyscraper in Boston at Atlantic Wharf.  As costs to build green continue to drop and consumer demand for green buildings continues to increase we can expect the number of private development LEED projects to continue to rise. 

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How Green is my Dollar Tree?

  
  
  

LEED Certification – Worth the Cost?

  
  
  

Financing a Solar Deal

  
  
  
describe the imageWritten by: Ani E. Ajemian

No doubt about it, financing is a critical component of a solar project and is often the force that drives the deal. 

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Thoughts on DEP "Reg Reform"

  
  
  
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