Agreeing that buildings are the biggest consumers of energy inthe US, Frederick Fucci, a partner in the locally based law firm ofArnold & Porter LLP, urged developers to seek alternativesources of energy. Alternative energy, he explained, refers toonsite or local generation of electric or thermal energy, eitherthrough systems using natural gas, fuel cells, solar energy orbiomass. Although they are renewable, wind, hydro and tidal systemsare not generally available in site-specific urban or suburbanlocations, he noted.

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Conventional energy refers to "central generation" orgrid-supplied electricity and natural gas, plus back-up dieselgenerators for emergency power, he explained. "Every time you flickthe switch today in most places in the US, it means that you aretapping into a huge infrastructure that, in the end, relies onhighly polluting, inefficient and outmoded technology. …It is thegreatest single contribution to the global warming problem in theUS and, were it not for China and its even heavier reliance oncoal, the world." He urged that a reliable supply of energy betaken into account at the earliest stage of the real estateplanning process.

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"A considerable effort needs to be made to reduce the amount ofenergy (the buildings) consume," he said. "More fundamentally, realestate is an important part of the solution because everycommercial and residential facility is potentially a small powerplant--and this is the real alternative to the central generationmodel."

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Pyke pointed out that climate change "cuts across our economyand our environment . . . It is clear that humanity is exceedingthe ability of the global atmosphere to assimilate the byproductsof fossil fuel combustion –greenhouse gas emissions. It defieslogic to think that our finite atmosphere would have an infinitecapacity to absorb these gasses."

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What used to be a fairly simple process, Fucci acknowledged, is"now presenting real estate developers with many choices thatrequire weighing complex technological, legal and risk factors. . .One can think of every building, whether it is new or old, as anopportunity to make a difference towards reducing those emissions,and the various stakeholders can resolve to make a concentratedeffort to turn that opportunity into reality."

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