Sustainable Development

  • Holland & Knight's Sustainable Development Team assists clients with legal issues related to the building and development of sustainable projects, including energy efficiency, renewable and alternative energy, green building, smart growth, water resources and preservation of natural resources.
  • We regularly assist clients in obtaining financing for their sustainable development projects, including federal appropriations and federal, state and local incentives.
  • Members of our team have a thorough understanding of existing and emerging climate change policies and provide strategic counsel to clients to ensure that climate change requirements are met and opportunities are maximized.
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Increasingly, government and private entities are seeking to protect our nation’s overall health, natural environment and quality of life through strategies such as smart growth, new urbanism and green building. Moreover, as society becomes more aware of the threat posed by global climate change, public and private leaders are developing systems to change business operations and development patterns to stabilize and reduce carbon emissions. Collectively, these movements seek to promote the concept of "sustainability" – meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Although there is no universally accepted definition of "sustainable development," three core principles infuse most sustainable development strategies:

 These principles also tie directly to broader public and private sector efforts to address global climate change. 

An Integrated Approach to Meet Your Objectives

Holland & Knight is uniquely positioned to assist government and private entities support and promote sustainable development through projects, policies or operations. Our multidisciplinary group of attorneys and professionals has performed hands-on work throughout the country, and seamlessly combines in-depth knowledge in all facets of sustainable development with our nationally leading real estate, government and environmental law practices.

As one of the largest law firms in the United States with offices in 18 domestic locations, we are able to mesh our strengths in local markets with experience at the cutting edge of this emerging and evolving field. Going "green" is no longer an abstract goal or a marketing tool. In the 21st century, it is a must. Holland & Knight knows the challenges and opportunities within this field, and is exceptionally suited to assist clients to meet their sustainable development objectives. 

The Holland & Knight Commitment to Sustainability

Our Sustainable Development Team is more than just a client focus. It also encompasses our commitment to addressing the firm's own environmental footprint. From reducing the amount of energy and natural resources we consume to increasing the amount of post-consumer materials we recycle, Holland & Knight is constantly looking at new ways to sustain natural resources for future generations and contribute to the quality of life of our employees and communities.

We are dedicated to educating our own personnel on the importance of sustainability and how to integrate environmentally friendly practices in our everyday activities. Through our national recycling efforts, Holland & Knight recycles approximately 383 tons of paper each year. Holland & Knight is one of the first firms in the country to be recognized as an ABA/EPA Climate Challenge partner. Holland & Knight is also serving as a pilot firm for the implementation of the ABA's model sustainability policy.

Developing in a Targeted, Compact and Balanced Manner

Holland & Knight professionals have the extensive experience and knowledge to assist government and private entities target and undertake development in a manner that reduces automobile dependence and reliance on existing infrastructure, thereby reducing the detrimental environmental, financial and social impacts of sprawl. In addition, we can assist in the planning and implementation of developments containing balanced, compact and pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods and districts, and in public and private sector efforts to provide diverse housing options and an equitable approach to environmental impacts.

Brownfields Redevelopment

Holland & Knight has a national practice assisting real estate developers, corporations and municipalities in transforming contaminated lands into productive sites that help communities grow. Team members are knowledgeable in every aspect of brownfields redevelopment in order to provide our clients with an extensive network of contacts, up-to-the-minute analysis of changing state voluntary cleanup programs, and regulatory and risk management tools to quantify environmental risks and structure transactions in ways that minimize potential environmental liabilities. In addition, we have been leaders in developing policies and practices that govern the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of institutional controls (land use restrictions) on contaminated sites. We have substantial experience negotiating pollution legal liability, remediation cost cap, blended finite risk and secured creditor policies to facilitate these deals, and also have extensive experience bringing federal, state and local financial incentives to the table.

Transit-Oriented Development

Our lawyers and professionals have substantial experience in the transit industry and have held noteworthy positions with federal, state and local governments, transportation agencies and in private sector transportation companies. Holland & Knight has directly assisted with the creation of a number of transit-oriented developments, from assisting to secure infrastructure support from state and federal sources, representation of private developers in public-private joint venture station redevelopments, and guidance to public agencies for joint development projects at transit stations along and throughout an entire system.

Balanced, Compact and Pedestrian-Oriented Neighborhoods and Districts

Holland & Knight attorneys can assist government entities to develop tools and strategies to develop balanced, compact and pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods and diverse districts—whether through wholesale changes to a municipality’s zoning and subdivision codes, or through targeted initiatives for a particular area. Through our thorough understanding of local government processes and planning objectives, we can assist private developers seeking entitlements for “new urbanism” projects whose design and densities are likely inconsistent with existing codes. Our experience has included the drafting of comprehensive plans, zoning codes and architectural design regulations incorporating smart growth and new urbanist concepts. We have also represented a variety of clients undertaking projects infused with new urbanist principles, including both mixed-use, transit-oriented town centers and entirely new neighborhoods.

Affordable, Mixed-Income and Infill Housing

Holland & Knight has earned the reputation as a leading law firm in the affordable housing industry. We have been involved with every significant housing and community development programs over the last three decades in projects all across the country and in several territories. Our clients include local, regional and national developers – for-profit and non-profit, tax credit and other investors, lenders, underwriters and credit enhancers, housing authorities and housing finance agencies. Many of the projects on which we work involve redevelopment or reuse of existing housing and related infrastructure and also involve historic preservation and historic tax credits.  In addition, we have assisted a number of local government entities to promote a diversity of housing options through inclusionary zoning ordinances and incentive programs. Finally, we are among the most experienced law firms in the country in the areas of military housing and redevelopment of military installations.

Environmental Justice

Holland & Knight attorneys are among the nation's leaders in addressing environmental justice issues and compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Our attorneys have provided training to literally thousands of government, community and industry employees and managers across the country and helped design EPA's suite of environmental justice courses. They have helped resolve complex, sometime divisive siting, permitting, brownfields, enforcement, and policy matters to the satisfaction of the affected community, government regulators, and our clients. In addition, Holland & Knight attorneys have worked with companies, government at all levels, and others to appropriately measure, document, and express their record on environmental justice.

Promoting Energy- and Resource-Efficient Development and Operations

The move to high-performance buildings and developments is being driven by government regulation and market forces, and Holland & Knight is at the forefront of this shift. From the regulatory side to the implementation side, we assist our clients to promote energy and resource-efficient building development and operations. Our capabilities also extend to broader environmental infrastructure projects involving energy, material recovery, solar, water supply, wastewater, and other similar projects.

Green Building

Holland & Knight attorneys have represented clients developing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and multiple other projects designed to qualify for LEED certification. We actively represent private developers and participate in administrative processes in the leading jurisdictions for promoting green building development, including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Montgomery County, Maryland, and Washington D.C. We have also assisted developers to identify and maximize federal, state, and local incentives for green buildings. We are proud to be one of only a few law firms that has an attorney designated as a LEED Accredited Professional.

We provide extensive counseling and litigation experience on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) throughout the country and have experience with “toxic mold,” “sick building syndrome” and “building-related illness” issues. We counsel clients on IAQ risk management issues — for new construction, and for operation and maintenance or remodeling of existing facilities — relating to real estate transactions; handle IAQ compliance issues; and work with clients engaged in IAQ regulatory initiatives at both the federal and state levels. We have represented a broad spectrum of clients in IAQ matters, including public and private owners and developers, architects, engineers and contractors.

Historic Preservation

Holland & Knight has extensive experience with projects involving the reuse of existing buildings and the preservation of historic and cultural resources. Two Holland & Knight attorneys hold masters degrees in architectural history and historic preservation, allowing the firm to provide unparalleled expert advice on adaptive reuse of historic buildings, design compatibility of new construction with historic resources, and compliance with preservation laws (including the "Section 106" review process under the National Historic Preservation Act). The firm has also drafted historic preservation ordinances for its local government clients that preserve the character of historic districts and protect historic structures from demolitions and alterations detracting from the basis for landmark designation. Holland & Knight regularly assists clients with listing requirements under the National Register of Historic Places and state and local analogs, and with obtaining federal historic preservation tax credits.

Energy Efficiency

Holland & Knight attorneys have assisted a number of municipalities to adopt and implement building codes that promote energy efficiency. We have assisted our government clients with exploring options to operate in a more energy efficient manner, purchasing energy from renewable resources, and building infrastructure projects that incorporate energy- saving and renewable generation technologies (such as solar photovoltaic and cogeneration equipment) into their new facilities. We have assisted both building owners and energy service companies to structure and negotiate performance-based energy efficiency agreements.

Renewable and New Technology Energy Resources

Governmental agencies are increasingly encouraging the development of green generation, through the use of federal energy tax credits and other incentives, that will enable utilities to meet expanding resource requirements in an environmentally responsible manner. Holland & Knight's attorneys have assisted clients in the development of major wind, solar, geothermal, and small hydroelectric generation projects. Recent projects include representing a public power authority on development of an offshore wind turbine facility, advising utility clients on "clean coal" IGCC and wind generation projects, representing the developer in the equity finance of the largest photovoltaic solar power generating facility in the world, and sales of environmental attributes and swaps.

Water Use

Holland & Knight covers issues related to water supply, water resource planning and wastewater management in all geographic regions served by the firm and has the experience and knowledge to address virtually any needs of water system owners, operators and self-suppliers. We work to assure adequate supply and quality for current and future demand, and assist in obtaining water rights, acquiring necessary interests in land, and negotiating purchase and sale agreements. We assist in structuring and implementing water, sewer and residuals management projects through design/build and design/build/operate project delivery approaches. The team has obtained federal appropriations for cutting-edge stormwater and wastewater facilities and assisted in compliance with Clean Water Act and state requirements.

Preserving and Protecting Natural Resources

Holland & Knight has vast experience in all facets of environmental protection and conservation strategies. We help government entities develop tools to conserve and protect their biological and cultural heritage. We also assist private entities to undertake land management and development activities in an ecologically sensitive manner and in accordance with applicable legal requirements.

Land and Natural Resource Conservation

Our lawyers have been involved in program development, finance, conservation planning and transactions associated with over two million acres and the sale and acquisition of over a million acres of conservation lands.  This diverse experience has been developed working for public agencies, large private landowners, and non-profit conservation organizations on some of the nation’s premier conservation initiatives.
Holland & Knight attorneys are involved with programs on the cutting edge of rural sustainability and greenspace protection. We represent a number of major landowners involved with the Florida Rural Land Stewardship Areas program, which uses a transfer of development rights (TDRs) approach to protect the rural economic base and environmental resources.

Wetlands and Endangered Species Protection

Holland & Knight has a national practice in the area of wetlands regulation including delineation, mitigation and permitting requirements. Our attorneys regularly represent commercial, industrial, residential, and public clients in navigating the complex federal and state wetlands permitting process.

We have supervised teams of consultants in successfully negotiating permits for large-scale projects, and have worked with large private landowners and local governments to develop conservation plans, easements and acquisitions which have led to protection of several hundred thousand acres of lands now part of national and state parks, forests and preserves. We have assisted local government clients to adopt ordinances regulating non-federally protected wetlands, requiring an avoidance and minimization of wetland impacts before mitigation is considered.

Holland & Knight attorneys have extensive experience with virtually all major issues related to the federal Endangered Species Act (and its state equivalents) including the listing of species, designation of critical habitat, development of Habitat Conservation Plans, Section 7 consultation issues and avoidance of “take” liability. Our team is adept at helping clients develop strategies to steer through the ESA process.

NEPA and State Equivalents

Holland & Knight attorneys and professional staff have extensive experience in issues arising from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and related state counterparts. We counsel clients on the complex NEPA process and assist in analyzing NEPA documents such as Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements, and have litigated NEPA claims in federal courts both in private practice and in prior positions with the Department of Justice.

The Climate Change Context

Regulation of greenhouse gases will have wide-reaching effects on the United States economy. Once a remote possibility, limits on carbon dioxide emissions have now moved to the center of the Congressional agenda even as numerous states implement their own programs. It is no longer a question of if regulations will be implemented but rather a question of when and how.

Companies in every U.S. economic sector and throughout the world face increasing pressures to address global climate change. Regulatory programs are emerging and evolving at the state, federal, and international levels. Shareholders, local governments and the general public are demanding and, in many cases, already taking action. Quick response to climate change has become a new metric for corporate environmental performance and social responsibility. By taking a strategic approach to the climate change issue, corporations gain advantages over the competition in the new carbon-constrained world.

Guidance From a Dedicated Climate Advocacy Team

Holland & Knight has established a Climate Advocacy Team to advise companies and government entities in navigating successfully in this complicated and fast-moving area. The firm’s practice team has a thorough understanding of existing and emerging climate change policies – from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to U.S. federal initiatives to the Kyoto Protocol. Our team helps clients evaluate and scale potential risks and rewards of various strategies for response to public policy. Our emphasis is not just on helping clients develop a "green" reputation. We work to structure successful approaches that integrate corporate culture and the bottom line.

Case Studies


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Regulations for New Energies and Climate Change
Milton Montoya Al Paredon Still
Al Paredón with Milton Fernando Montoya
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Are Environmental Laws Undermining Environmental, Social, and Economic Progress?
EOW Renewable Fuel Standard Still
Podcast: An Update on the Renewable Fuel Standard Final Rule
Jose Zapata Madrid Energy Conference Still
Curtain Raiser with Jose Vicente Zapata, Holland & Knight
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Housing Density as a Climate Lever with Scott Wiener
Susan Lafferty EPA Still
eRIN Credits, What They Are and What Impact They Will Have on the Biogas Sector in the USA
EOW State Cap Trade Still
Podcast - Cap-and-Trade Programs: A Primer for 2023
EWO Energy Media Still
Podcast: Discussing the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard with Andy Kriha and Susan Lafferty
COP27 In Review: It Takes a Village
Podcast - COP27 in Review: It Takes a Village
Análisis Proyecto de Ley para Desarrollar el Ecosistema del Hidrógeno Cero y Bajas Emisiones
Análisis Proyecto de Ley para Desarrollar el Ecosistema del Hidrógeno Cero y Bajas Emisiones
Energy and Environment EOW Still
Podcast: Election Impacts on DOE Funding, Clean Tech Legislation and Energy Innovation
Borrero Al Paredon Still
Al Paredón con Jorge Hernán Peláez
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The Evolution of Climate-Impact Blended Finance for the Caribbean
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Will the U.S. Infrastructure Law Propel the EV Market?
Al Paredón con Jorge Hernán Peláez
Al Paredón con Jorge Hernán Peláez
ESG: Legal Disclosure Requirements and Regulations
U.S. Capitol Building lit up at night
Podcast: The Successes and Value of the Loan Programs Office with Jonathan Silver
Florida Capital Conversations, Episode 2 - Energy
Podcast: Discussing Energy with Bruce May and Kevin Cox
Transición energética en Colombia, una nueva era
Energy Transition in Colombia, a New Era
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ESG: Calculating Carbon Emissions for Financiers and Investor Assessment and Reporting
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FDACS Women's History Month Podcast with Commissioner Nikki Fried
State Report Says California Won’t Meet its Climate Goals Because of Too Much Driving. What Are the Alternatives?
State Report Says California Won’t Meet its Climate Goals Because of Too Much Driving. What Are the Alternatives?
Update on USDA's 9003 Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program
Update on USDA's 9003 Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program
Navigating the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program
Navigating the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program
Policy Minute: Energy Finance Opportunities with the Government
Policy Minute: Energy Finance Opportunities with the Government


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