Sustainability

Overview

The issue of our day is the building and development of sustainable enterprises. Robinson+Cole’s Sustainability Group consists of an interdisciplinary group of lawyers focused on assisting clients with legal issues related to the many facets of sustainability. We leverage our experience, knowledge, and creativity to collaborate with our clients on many types of projects, including the following:

  • energy efficiency
  • renewable and alternative energy
  • green building
  • clean tech
  • climate change
  • water resources
  • waste minimization

Our Services

The Sustainabtility Group advises on a wide array of green projects. We support energy and development projects involving solar, thermal, water, and wind energy, as well as waste reduction/recycling issues.  We counsel our clean tech clients on a range of business issues.

Our clients come from a variety of backgrounds, including the following:

  • utilities, manufacturers, and municipalities
  • investors, venture capitalists, and lenders
  • clean and renewable energy developers
  • power producers and power purchase agreement providers
  • property managers, real estate owners, and brownfield redevelopers
  • hospitals and universities

We advise clients on legal and business matters involving these areas:

  • energy efficiency, net zero energy, and green building design for new construction projects
  • energy management and controls
  • energy conservation retrofitting
  • renewable and alternative energy project development

Our Team

As part of a full-service law firm with a long track record in the sustainability and clean energy field, the Sustainability Group creates a seamless integration of legal disciplines that includes the following:

  • energy
  • environmental, health, and safety
  • tax
  • intellectual property
  • real estate
  • finance
  • corporate governance
  • construction

Our way of doing business is to provide you with the creative legal and business approaches needed to move your company toward, and thrive in, an environmentally sustainable future.

    • Experience
      • Represented a lender, as administrative and collateral agent and a lender, in a $9,500,000 senior secured construction-to permanent term loan facility, and also as the sole lender in a contemporaneous $6,150,000 senior subordinated construction-to-permanent term loan facility, provided to a borrower to fund the construction costs associated with the design, procurement, and installation of a 10.3 MW gas-fired combined co-generation and ice production facility in Staten Island, New York, secured by all personal and real property assets of the borrower and its affiliates, including their respective rights under all contracts with procurement contractors, interconnection agreements, and maintenance agreements and involving associated intercreditor, interparty, and other third-party issues. Assisted the client in evaluating the permitting and environmental requirements for and status of the borrower's co-generation facility as well as interacting with state agencies involved in the permitting process and with tax abatements.

      • Represented an institutional lender providing a $22 million construction loan to an affiliated group of borrowers to fund the construction costs associated with the design, procurement, and installation of 26 MW commercial rooftop solar array projects for two Fortune 50 companies to be located on 60 commercial buildings in four states and secured by all assets of the borrowers. We advised on respective rights under all contracts with equipment procurement contractors (EPCs), power purchase agreements, renewable energy certificates, agreements relating to federal investment tax credits, interconnection agreements, and maintenance agreements. The contemplated refinancing of this transaction involved the placement of permanent senior loan financing from an institutional lender, a tax credit equity investment (in the form of a "partnership flip," which involved the creation of special purpose entities) from an institutional investor, and the associated intercreditor, interparty, and other related third-party issues.

        1. Represented large high-technology manufacturer and after-market service provider in the negotiation and related legal support required to design and permit several connected "sustainable campus" projects at its headquarters, including multimillion-dollar wastewater treatment and reuse upgrades eliminating NPDES-permitted discharges, installation of a combined heat and power cogeneration facility, and related infrastructure changes.
      • Represented diversified public corporation undertaking redevelopment projects on several of its business units' campuses, including counsel on related legislation and tax incentives and representation in the environmental and land use permit proceedings required to construct and renovate buildings pursuant to a master plan for creating educational, housing, entertainment, retail, and employment opportunities in a mixed-use development district.

      • Represented New York county in all aspects, including corporate, environmental, real estate, and administrative law, of its renegotiation of a long-term agreement for the disposal of solid waste and operation of a waste-to-energy facility, with several ancillary agreements among the county, the facility operator, and the municipality in which the facility is located concerning the transfer of ownership of the facility from a county agency to the operator of the waste-to-energy facility.

      • Represented clients in securing renewable attribute accreditation for projects.

      • Counseled clients on tax credit financing for renewable energy projects and recently presented on financing tools for municipal projects, including Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) and Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs).

      • Represented renewable energy company as general corporate and real estate counsel responsible for permitting, financing, and asset acquisition for Rhode Island-based power production facilities.

      • Represented public-private partnership with the State of Connecticut to redevelop, operate, and maintain Connecticut's 23 highway service plazas that include "green" initiatives to bring the facilities up to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, improve water runoff patterns, and install idle-reduction technology for use by trucks on the Connecticut Turnpike, also known as Interstate 95.

      • Drafted and negotiated hundreds of millions of dollars in design, construction, and consulting contracts for an Ivy League university's most prominent projects, including the environmental studies building (a LEED Platinum building), the new business school building, the chemistry lab, and renovations for several of the university's residential colleges.

      • Report on and analyze trends in smart growth, green building, and land use planning at the state and local levels across the country as part of the firm’s services to a national real estate client.

      • Represented Fortune 100 company with design, development, and implementation of its sustainability program, including researching applicable and emerging law and policy, analyzing potential funding mechanisms to support the program, aligning sustainability goals with business objectives, and developing an organizational structure consistent with the client’s corporate structure and culture.

      • Counsel to several clients in connection with analysis of participating in various mandatory and voluntary renewable energy and energy efficiency credit markets, including reviewing the applicability of certain technologies in various programs, determining the legal status and financial treatment of various credit instruments, and negotiating contracts for the verification, marketing, and sale of credit instruments.

      • Worked closely with Fortune 500 Company's legal and technical personnel to assess emerging federal, state, and regional greenhouse gas control programs, identify potential burdens and opportunities, and develop related corporate strategies.

      • Represented shorefront property owner in its application to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a permit to rebuild a house damaged by Hurricane Irene. Successfully argued that the client's house had predated the passage of coastal management statutes in Connecticut and was thus eligible for a permit under the simpler certificate of permission program.

      • Represented developer of a subdivision that included a wind turbine as a prominent feature in an action against the subdivision purchasers who reneged on promises to reconfigure subdivision open space to allow for development of the wind turbine. Successfully negotiated resolution to dispute.

      • Represented a multi-industry company whose principal activities are to design and manufacture nickel-zinc rechargeable batteries with respect to an exchange offer made to holders of Series A and Series B Preferred Stock.

      • Represented the industry leader in the commercialization of carbonate fuel cell products for stationary power in its acquisition of a leading developer of solid oxide fuel cell technology, in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $80 million. Also represented client in connection with $240 million and $60 million follow-on public offerings of the company’s common stock.

      • Represent Nasdaq-listed developer and manufacturer of high-efficiency distributed electric power generation.

      • Counseled manufacturers of fuel cell and energy systems regarding product labeling issues.

      • Litigation counsel to a wind energy developer for a wind turbine in a newly created subdivision in Rhode Island.

      • Counsel to a manufacturer of low environmental impact cleaners, oils, and fuels with respect to brand management matters, including trademark protection and packaging compliance counseling.

      • Successfully modified legislation for environmentally preferable products and improved future communications in a matter involving the legislative committee of cognizance and the state agency of cognizance.

      • Representation in a $241 million public offering of common stock of a major fuel cell developer and manufacturer. The offering was underwritten by Merrill Lynch & Co.

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    • News
      • March 17, 2017

        Sorell Negro Participates in UN Sustainable Development Symposium

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      • November 18, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Elects New Partners

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      • October 31, 2016

        Sorell Negro Presents at 2016 GreenTrends Conference

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      • June 9, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Co-sponsors Connecticut Green Circle Sustainability Awards

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      • April 18, 2016

        Jerome Garciano Hosts Sustainability Event in Boston Office

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      • February 1, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Forms Sustainability Cross-Practice Team

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    • Publications + Presentations
    • Green Tax Incentive Compendium (July 2017)

      Green Tax Incentive Compendium (January 2017)

      "Legal and Practical Incentives for Sustainable Development," co-presented by Sorell E. Negro and Dr. Deborah Brosnan, a marine scientist who focuses on environmental sustainability and is the president of Deborah Brosnan & Associates, at the 2016 GreenTrends Conference in Hollywood, Florida (10/20/2016)
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      Green Tax Incentive Compendium (July 2016)

      We are pleased to introduce our Sustainability Team (4/11/2016)

      Green Tax Incentive Compendium, authored by Jerome L. Garciano (1/1/16)

      "Climate Change Regulations," published in Discretionary Land Use Controls: Avoiding Invitations to Abuse of Discretion, authored by Brian W. Blaesser, Chapter 8 (2015)
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      "Sustainable Design and Development Regulations," published in Discretionary Land Use Controls: Avoiding Invitations to Abuse of Discretion, authored by Brian W. Blaesser, Chapter 8 (2015)
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      "Renewable Energy," published in Recent Developments in Public Utility, Communications and Transportation Industries, co-authored by Joey Lee Miranda and Alexander W. Judd (2015)
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      "Using Urban Agriculture to Grow Southern New England," published in Connecticut Planning, co-authored by Sorell E. Negro and Professor Laurie Beyranevand, Professor Sara Bronin, and Marie Mercurio, AICP (SNEAK 2015 Special Edition)
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      "Land Use and Sea Level Rise: Practice Tips for Land Use Practitioners in the Wake of Changing Regulatory Schemes," published in Probate & Property, authored by Sorell E. Negro (July/August 2015)
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      "The World of Wind Development: Recent Land Use Cases and Issues," presented by Sorell E. Negro (7/22/2015)
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      "State Policies and Energy Markets: Collaborative Efforts or Collision Course," presented by Joey Lee Miranda, moderator, held at the 22nd Annual New England Energy Conference and Exposition in Groton, Connecticut (5/13/2015)

      "Sea Level Rise and Property Rights: Recent Cases and Surging Issues," presented by Sorell E. Negro, at the ABA's Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law's (RPTE) Spring Symposia in Washington, DC (5/1/2015)
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      "Sea Level Rise and Property Rights: Recent Cases and Surging Issues," presented by Christie D. Jean, at the ABA's Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law's (RPTE) Spring Symposia in Washington, DC (5/1/2015)
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      "Energy Benchmarking Ordinances: Coping with the New Mandate on Retail Owners and Tenants," published in Retail Law Strategist, co-authored by Brian W. Blaesser and Timothy C. Twardowski (Spring 2015)
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      "Understanding Stormwater Management Regulations in New England," co-presented by Brian W. Blaesser and Gregory S. Sampson, presented the first in a series of webinars on stormwater management in New England (1/16/2014)
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      "Preparing, Adapting, and Rebuilding: Rising Sea Levels Raise New Legal Issues," published in Probate & Property, authored by Sorell E. Negro, a publication of the American Bar Association (11/12/2013)

      Connecticut Establishes Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (06/12/2013)

      "Are We Prepared?" at Connecticut Power & Energy Society's (CPES) annual Energy, Environment, and Economic Development Conference; Moderator of panel discussion on whether we are prepared for the next emergency, presented by Joey Lee Miranda (3/13/2013)

      "Green Guidance for Retailers: Avoiding FTC Claims of Unfair or Deceptive Marketing," published in Retail Law Strategist, co-authored by Kathleen M. Porter and Brian W. Blaesser (March 2013)
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      "Sustainable Retail Development: The Balancing Act Between 'Good Practice' and Regulatory Compliance," at 2012 International Council of Shopping Centers RetailGreen Conference, presented by Brian W. Blaesser (11/28/2012)

      "Retail Primer on Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Part II," published in Retail Law Strategist, co-authored by Brian W. Blaesser and Sorell E. Negro (Fall 2012)
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      "Energy Project Development: Facility Siting & Due Diligence Considerations," presented by Joey Lee Miranda, presented as webinar through PGS Energy Training (8/21/2012)

      "Retail Primer on Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Part I," published in Retail Law Strategist, co-authored by Brian W. Blaesser and Sorell E. Negro (Summer 2012)
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      "Sustainability Benchmarking," presented by Brian W. Blaesser, workshop at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) 2011 RetailGreen Conference, moderated by Brian W. Blaesser (11/30/2011)
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      "Green Leasing for Retail: Landlord and Tenant Perspectives: Parts 1 and 2," published in Retail Law Strategist, co-authored by Brian W. Blaesser and Gregory S. Sampson (Summer 2011)
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      "Drafting & Negotiating Green Building Provisions in Design/Construction Contracts and Leases," at 2010 Greenbuild International Conference, Generation Green: Redefining Our Future, Chicago, Illinois, presented by Brian W. Blaesser (11/2010)
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      "Managing Liability Issues in Green Buildings and Sustainable Construction," presented at Higher Education Real Estate Lawyers, co-presented by Gregory R. Faulkner and Martin A. Onorato (10/15/2010)

      "Protecting the Public Through Hazard Mitigation Planning," published in Homeland Security and Emergency Management: A Legal Guide for State and Local Governments (2nd Edition) ABA Press, co-authored by Dwight H. Merriam and Rufus C. Young, Jr. (2010)
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