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Sustainable Development: Innovative Financing and Implementation Strategies

  • Overview
  • Attorneys & Professionals
  • Representative Experience

Godfrey & Kahn has an active sustainable development practice.

In addition to work in the areas detailed below, a member of our team is vice chair of the ABA’s Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems Committee.

Carbon Footprint Strategies

Godfrey & Kahn attorneys have used their experience in climate change and sustainable development matters to counsel clients on carbon footprint analysis and strategies to maximize environmental, financial, marketing and other benefits.

Sustainable Development and Incentives

Godfrey & Kahn assists our clients in cost-effective, sustainable development, as we have significant experience in carbon reduction, green development and energy efficiency strategies. In conjunction with our firm’s Real Estate Practice Group, we have evaluated and provided advice relating to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and other green development opportunities. Members of our Real Estate Practice Group have published articles and given presentations on the legal aspects of LEED and contract negotiation for green development projects. In our work with clients on climate change and sustainable development matters, we have provided advice regarding joining groups such as Wisconsin’s Green Tier program and in receiving renewable energy, carbon, phosphorous reduction and other credits. We have also provided strategies and legal advice regarding renewable energy development opportunities, including successfully assisting clients receive millions of dollars in competitive grants.

Sustainable Forestry

Our work has included helping clients to maximize the carbon sequestration, and financial and other benefits from their forestry operations. We provide advice to our clients regarding obtaining carbon credits for sustainable forestry operations. Our experience includes counseling Indian tribes on strategies to maximize the environmental and economic value of their sustainable forestry operations. We have also advised a large manufacturer on its donation of forested land and capturing the carbon sequestration value from that forest.

Agricultural Opportunities

We provide assistance in evaluating sustainable development opportunities for agricultural operations. Such opportunities include adjustments to farming operations to generate phosphorous reduction, wetland mitigation, carbon credits, and the use of grants, tax benefits and other financial incentives for such projects. They also include use of agricultural waste materials to produce energy and fuels and the ability to generate valuable RINs (“Renewable Identification Numbers”) when the energy is used in vehicle transportation.

Brownfields Sustainable Development

Integrating sustainability strategies into brownfield redevelopment can increase the likelihood of obtaining state and federal grants. Godfrey & Kahn is currently assisting clients on major brownfield redevelopment projects with plans that include sustainable practices. We have partnered with organizations like 1000 Friends of Wisconsin to identify, implement and measure the effectiveness of sustainable development strategies.

John Clancy

Clancy, John L.

Diane Marchik

Marchik, Diane M.

Edward (Ned) Witte

Witte, Edward (Ned) B.


Representative Experience

Addressing Mining Threat
Godfrey & Kahn provided advice to Indian tribe regarding threats faced from off-Reservation projects, including a massive proposed taconite mine. With the tribe’s resistance, the mining company withdrew its application and sold the lands to the tribe. We have also worked with the tribe to develop and implement strategies to permanently resolve the mining controversy and promote sustainable development in the area.

Gundersen Lutheran
Godfrey & Kahn is working with Gundersen Lutheran in its efforts to build its own portfolio of green energy, with the goal of significantly reducing its carbon profile and becoming energy independent.

Godfrey & Kahn is serving as special counsel for the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on a pro bono basis, to analyze funding opportunities for an innovative auditing program designed to enhance energy efficiency of the city’s older housing stock, particularly housing in low income neighborhoods.

Reforestation and Conservation Project – Osa, Costa Rica
As part of its pro bono program, Godfrey & Kahn represented the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin (NRF) in drafting a three-party agreement with NRF, Neenah Paper, Inc. and Friends of the Osa. This innovative agreement covered an annual donation from Neenah Paper in an amount equal to Neenah Paper’s greenhouse gas offsets, as determined by the Chicago Climate Exchange, from its Wisconsin facilities. The annual donation will be used to support a reforestation project on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.

Tribal Client Carbon Profile Reduction
Godfrey & Kahn has partnered with a tribal client in its efforts to reduce energy use and reduce its carbon profile. We are working with Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program to audit the tribe’s major energy-using facilities, and implement energy efficiency strategies. In addition, we are working with the tribe to evaluate other methods to reduce and virtually eliminate its carbon profile, including evaluating renewable energy purchases, fuel switching, sustainable forestry and other opportunities.

Tribal Community Solar Development
Godfrey & Kahn is assisting an Indian tribe in implementing large community-scale solar projects. We developed a strategy to seek and obtain over $1.5 million in competitive federal funds available to tribes to help fund over 900 kW of solar facilities to serve 15 tribal buildings and approximately 50 tribal homes. We developed a strategy to combine federal grant funding with state incentives to further leverage benefit to tribe. We also developed a strategy to develop project with tax credit investor to provide value of 30% investment tax credit to the tribe. Project structure allows the Tribe to finance its portion of the project costs from its short-term energy savings.

Tribal Sustainability Project
Godfrey & Kahn assisted an Indian tribe in developing unique approaches for its sustainability projects. We developed a unique funding strategy for a large solar project, including preparing a successful competitive Department of Energy grant application and combining it with a tax credit financing strategy to pay for the project. We assisted the tribe with the purchase of brownfield parcels for sustainable redevelopment. We helped negotiate for a significant credit based upon the environmental conditions and are working with the tribe to consider potential development options that incorporate green energy and other sustainable components.

Wisconsin Climate Change Action Initiative, Inc. (WCCAI)
Godfrey & Kahn formed the nonprofit corporation WCCAI to promote behavior change to reduce the carbon footprint of individuals and entities in Wisconsin.

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