SRQ Magazine: Green Building Roundtable 2009 (7/1/09)

June 4, 2013 | By

SRQ 2009 Green Business Roundtable
This article was originally published in SRQ Magazine (July 2009).

At the law firm Kirk-Pinkerton, P.A., shareholder Casey Colburn helps clients focus on the Triple Bottom Line, doing what’s right for people and the planet while still turning a profit. It’s a three-pronged approach to sustainability and one Kirk-Pinkerton’s employees follow with pride. As a land use and environmental attorney, Colburn has years of experience working to clean up contaminated properties, helping businesses and governments sort through environmental regulations and advocating for green practices. Colburn, who studied the Clean Air Act, acid rain and other environmental issues as a law student at the University of Pittsburg, is so dedicated to the cause he even became LEED-certified, a designation not typically earned by those in the field of law. At the new Hampton Inn being constructed near the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, Colburn helped Finergy Development reduce unneeded parking spaces local regulations would’ve required for the hotel. Fewer parking spaces will help reduce the urban heat island effect and decrease surface water impacts at the site. Colburn and fellow employees at Kirk-Pinkerton practice sustainability on a daily basis as they recycle, allow double-sided printing, keep a close eye on their use of energy and adhere to other green standards at the firm, which has been serving clients in the Sarasota and Manatee communities since 1926.

As a lawyer at Kirk-Pinkerton, P.A., I must continuously navigate through the complex system of rules, regulations and decision makers involving green products and land development. Today, clients need assistance in dealing with policies that precede many of today’s best green practices. This is even complex for local governments that are working to become certified as “Green Local Governments”. There are other legal conflicts between what ought to be done and what the rules currently say must be done. Today, green opportunities face similar barriers that “brownfield” developers faced a generation ago. Then, rules required contaminated properties to be cleaned-up before use. I helped pioneer risk-based clean-up solutions that made environmental sense, while returning contaminated properties to productive use. These projects serve as templates for how to make green ideas work today. Legal trail blazing is often difficult and time consuming. Because of the technical knowledge needed to effectively advocate for emerging green concepts, I developed the skills to become certified as a LEED AP.

Some challenging examples are: A standard substitution of materials allowed under a contract can prove disastrous, and can cost a project LEED credit points, jeopardizing certification. Many government building programs require green certification [for a list, see:]; Sustainability now obliges communities to make it profitable to build more internally in town and near convenient transit. Understanding, anticipating and communicating complex, novel ideas are the keys to achieving success in this emerging field. Kirk-Pinkerton has served this community for more than 80 years and has been integral to its evolution. We believe our efforts on behalf of green businesses and governments will sustain the qualities that make our community a special place to live and prosper.

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