California Bar Journal
CBJ - June 2008 #01.
It's a new green world at California law firms
California Bar JournalJune 2008It's a new green world at California law firmsBy Diane CurtisStaff WriterThe cornstarch spoons may have melted in the soup, but that didn't discourage Wendel Rosen Black & Dean LLP from pursuing a firmwide commitment to conservation and sustainability. The perseverance paid off: In 2003, Wendel Rosen became the first law firm to be certified by the Bay Area Green Business Program before, as Executive Director Gina Maciula puts it, "it got cool."
ENERGY STAR appliances and electronics are the norm at the firm's Oakland and Modesto offices. Walls are colored with non-toxic paints. Furniture wood is from sustainable forests. Much of the ink is composed of soy. Water consumption is down, as is paper use. The paper that is used is recyclable as well as chlorine-free. Computers automatically turn off when not in use. Light switches have motion sensors. The firm no longer buys cartloads of water bottled in plastic containers. Carpet doesn't off-gas.
"They're really terrific," says Ceil Scandone, regional coordinator for the Bay Area Green Business Program. "They're very, very environmentally conscious."
Scandone is happy to report that growing numbers of law firms and other businesses in the Bay Area also are getting the green message. "We've seen about a 30 percent increase (to 1,200) in the number of businesses that go through the program," which started in 1996 in Alameda, says Sandone. Now all nine Bay Area counties - Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma - offer it and each county has a coordinator to advise and offer help to interested businesses. Firms that are certified are listed on the program's Web site.
Nixon Peabody also has been a leader in going green, becoming the first law firm in the nation to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in the category of Commercial Interiors for construction at its San Francisco office. Two years ago, when the firm was making plans to move to a bigger space, lawyers there pushed to use the move as an opportunity to start from scratch using environmentally friendly products and practices.
Like Wendel Rosen, carpet at Nixon Peabody, which leases space, is...