Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Arnold & Porter’s Local Office Among Participants in ABA-EPA Law Office Eco-Challenge Program
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
The American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has launched a two-year pilot project seeking to increase energy and resource conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emission by private law firms across the country, an ABA spokesperson said yesterday.
Unveiled Friday at an environmental law conference sponsored by SEER, the ABA-EPA Law Office Eco-Challenge encourages law firms to voluntarily participate in one or more of three EPA energy conservation programs—the WasteWise program, Green Power Partnership program, and/or ENERGY STAR program—in exchange for recognition as a ‘Law Office Eco-Challenge Partner’ or ‘Law Office Eco-Challenge Leader’ on the program’s website, http://www.abanet.org/environ/ecochallenge/.
At least one firm with an office in Los Angeles will participate in the initiative. Ronald L. Johnston, local managing partner for Arnold & Porter, told the MetNews the new policy is the firm’s most wide-scale energy and conservation effort to date.
Johnston said Arnold & Porter has adopted a firm-wide ‘Green Office’ policy in collaboration with the Eco-Challenge program.
“It addresses activities of the office and the firm that touch about every area of our operations from the use of paper to the use of different energy saving devices within the offices,” he said, noting the policy’s implementation is still in process.
“I think law firms operate greatly off of examples set or moves [made] by other law firms, from setting of compensation to recruiting of lawyers, specifically, and we would hope that this move by us would influence others. But even if it didn’t, it was a step that we took because we thought it was the right thing to do.”
Washington, D.C.-based environmental law attorney Howard J. Hoffman, a SEER committee vice chair who helped create the Eco-Challenge program, said the ABA “grabbed on” to the idea of promoting resource conservation and sustainable business practices.
Hoffman noted that although the Eco-Challenge initiative is focused on private law firms, the ABA is “actively thinking about ways of connecting with other institutions” such as local courts. The WasteWise program—which Eco-Challenge participants may replace with “best practices” for office paper management, such as reducing paper usage, increasing recycled content, or increasing recycling—encourages law firms to save energy by reducing waste, while the Green Power calls for firms to buy energy from renewable sources to cover at least a part of their electricity usage.
Under the ENERGY STAR program, law offices are expected to reduce energy use by at least 10 percent through the purchase of ENERGY STAR-designated equipment and implementation of better energy management practices.
“Everywhere we look and everything we read, we find all kinds of businesses and government [entities] and organizations that voluntarily are taking steps to be more environmentally conscious and energy conscious and climate change conscious, and it just made a lot of sense to come up with a program for law firms to do the same,” Hoffman said.
Although the ABA has not “crunched the numbers,” Hoffman added, it believes the Eco-Challenge will make a “meaningful difference” on a national scale.
“Take the example of paper,” he explained. “Everybody knows lawyers use a lot of paper. To produce paper requires so much energy that each piece of office paper that’s produced results in the release of nine times its weight in carbon dioxide emissions…A major law firm will use many tons of paper in just one year.”
While Eco-Challenge participants are not required to go completely paperless, they are encouraged to make a difference by adopting specific practices like double-sided copying and buying paper with recycled content, Hoffman said.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company