Legal Bulletins

Hero Image for page

Baltimore City Green Building Standards Now Effective

Building green is now mandatory in Baltimore City, with requirements that are some of the most sweeping of any American city. Failure to comply is punishable by significant civil penalties. While the mandatory requirements were enacted in 2009, Baltimore City just promulgated its Green Building Standards on September 10, 2010.
These requirements apply to the following buildings that have or will have a gross floor area of at least 10,000 square feet where a building permit application has been filed on or after July 1, 2009:


  • newly constructed buildings,
  • extensively modified non-residential buildings where the modifications alter more than 50% of the building’s gross floor area, and m
  • multi-family residential buildings which contain 5 or more dwelling units and are taller than 3 stories, or are mixed use buildings that contain a residential component and are taller than 3 stories.

The City Code requires such buildings to achieve (1) a Silver-level rating in the appropriate LEED rating system, as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, or (2) energy and environmental design standards identified by the Department of Housing and Community Development as equivalent to a Silver-level rating in the appropriate LEED rating system.
LEED (which stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”) is a rating system promulgated by the U.S. Green Building Council, a private organization. It has 4 certification levels (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum), and 9 rating systems under 5 broad categories, covering all aspects of the development and construction process. Baltimore City’s newly promulgated Green Building Standards are based largely upon the LEED 2009 rating standards; however, the City’s checklist is somewhat more extensive than the LEED checklist, and is intended to address challenges of building in an older urban area.
These requirements can be daunting, and many projects could fall within more than one of the rating systems. For example, a project may fit in the LEED rating system for “New Construction” or “Core and Shell”, and the requirements can be different. We believe that an experienced attorney, working with your design and construction team, can help determine an appropriate LEED rating system that will minimize costs and/or expedite construction. If you are contemplating building or renovating in Baltimore City and have questions concerning the City’s green requirements, please contact Susan Dubin at (410) 576-4045. In addition, you may contact any of the other attorneys in our Real Estate Practice Group to discuss your situation.