Reshaping Municipal and County Laws to Foster Green Building, Energy Efficiency, and Renewable Energy

43 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2008 Last revised: 29 Apr 2015


The efficient use of energy in the built environment has been recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other experts to offer a potential greater than any other sector to reduce CO2 emissions (as much as a 29% reduction of the projected baseline by 2020 according to the IPCC) using mature cost effective technologies. Many governmental units and professional organizations have committed to a goal of carbon neutrality in buildings by 2030. Local governments can have a critical positive impact on global warming and on meeting these goals by creating a receptive legal environment and enacting mandates that foster green buildings, energy efficiency, and renewable energy both in government operations and by the general population. There are a great many available tools and more are being developed every day. This paper(1) reviews why action at the local level is necessary; (2) provides a general overview of the organizational structures that have been developed to assist local governments in this effort; (3) reviews illustrative legal measures that have been taken at the local level to promote green building; (4) focuses on legal measures to increase energy efficiency; (5) addresses legal mechanisms employed to remove obstacles and foster development of renewable energy; (6) discusses planning for adaptation; (7) presents the opportunity afforded by comprehensive planning; and (8) describes some tools that have been developed to fund local efforts in this arena.

Keywords: climate change, global warming, local laws, law, ordinances, zoning, green building, energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy, solar, home owner associations, wind siting, adaptation, comprehensive plans, municipalities, ESCO, building code, energy code, incentives, funding, ICLEI, solar access

JEL Classification: Q48, Q42, Q40, Q20, O38, O30, O20, N50, N40, K32

Suggested Citation

Sussman, Edna, Reshaping Municipal and County Laws to Foster Green Building, Energy Efficiency, and Renewable Energy. NYU Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Edna Sussman (Contact Author)

SussmanADR LLC ( email )

20 Oak Lane
Scarsdale, NY 10583
United States


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics