“The strategist who is unconcerned by sustainability is akin to an architect who cares not whether their building stands or falls.”
James Mackenzie, NHS Sustainable Development Unit (2010)

Sustainability is not an abstraction or end in itself. It is a real-world method of doing business with universal application and implication. It is an appreciation for the value of resources and natural assets, and an integration of environmental costs into corporate and financial decision-making.

McGuireWoods as Pioneers

Almost 25 years ago McGuireWoods began assisting developers who wanted to make their projects more “environmentally beneficial” (“sustainability” wasn’t even a term applied to development yet), and were interested in developing mixed-use, walkable communities. Working with these pioneering clients placed us at the forefront of several trends that have come to define development today. We were charter members of the Congress for the New Urbanism, and we have taken leadership positions in almost every organization focusing on these types of communities — or the Form-Based Codes or Smart Codes that create them. We have served as counsel to the U.S. Green Building Council for more than a dozen years, as well as counsel to the World Green Building Council since its inception in 2002.

In 23 states, as well as Costa Rica, the Bahamas and Panama, we have represented the developers of green or pedestrian-oriented projects, or the localities that hoped to attract them. In these engagements, we write the codes that define structure and the governance documents that help create community. We assist in creating transit-oriented developments, develop sustainability plans for cities and regions, organize redevelopment, and overcome the countless impediments to innovative projects. Today we support our clients as they build “regenerative” and high-performance buildings that can generate more resources than they use and “resilient” neighborhoods designed to continue to function even after catastrophic events.

Our early work with cogeneration and brownfield recovery led to our involvement in some of the nation’s first eco-industrial parks, as we created their governance documents and the contracts for their unique relationships. We use some the same techniques today to help create innovative sustainable infrastructure systems with both high-profile client organizations in this area, as well as with our private and public developer clients. We help clients work on adaptive reuse projects, green buildings, green due diligence, incorporation of creative transportation solutions, and renewable energy, including creative solutions for water use and waste-to-energy systems. Partner Dan Slone is an internationally recognized leader on these issues and has spoken at forums across six continents.

Sustainability also means supporting leaders intent on building legacy organizations with enduring positive brand identities where fiscal strength, commitment to vibrant communities, and a healthy environment are equal parts of the strategic vision.

We counsel officers and board members on a broad array of sustainability issues, including risk management and how to create sustainability programs. Corporate leaders rely on McGuireWoods’ sustainability lawyers for counsel on all major sustainability issues, such as when and how to inventory and disclose GHG emissions, increasing energy security, securing carbon market opportunities, ensuring energy performance, and greening the supply chain for both compliance and greater resilience.

We have assisted entities and associations in the development and advocacy of innovative international climate finance, cleantech and energy efficiency programs. We have also assisted entities with World Bank funding, trade-related environmental issues (WTO/NAFTA) and OPIC financing and insurance.

In the United States, China, Africa and elsewhere in world, we have supported the developers of new, green products in overcoming regulatory and business impediments to distributing their products.

Our team has assisted numerous professionals in the world of urban and sustainable development with creating new services and products for introduction to domestic and foreign markets.

McGuireWoods is where it all comes together

Whether you want to align your business with core sustainability principles, design a vibrant community, incorporate clean energy and resource efficiency into your plans and operations, increase investments in clean technologies, or monetize natural resources — sound legal advice is critical. McGuireWoods provides insight from some of the best legal minds, tapping extensive pioneering experience for unique strategy and execution. At the same time, we foster collaboration benefiting both people and the planet for long-term well-being.


Project Planning & Counsel

  • Charrette Management
  • Environmental & Land Use Permit Anticipation & Planning
  • Strategic Planning for Agency & Public Interaction
  • Identification of Roadblocks for Unusual Designs or Systems
  • Management Of Clean Energy, Avoided Deforestation, or Green Infrastructure Projects

Entitlements with Local Engineering & Legal Team Members

  • Zoning: Drafting Replacement Codes, Creating Proposed Zoning, Strategic Assistance in the Process of Zoning
  • Dealing with Subdivision, Regional Plans & Other Regulatory Roadblocks
  • Negotiating with Fire & Department of Transportation Officials
  • Permitting for Waste Water Discharge, Water Intake, & Reclaimed Water Use
  • Resolving Environmental Impact Statement, Wetland, Endangered Species & Archaeological Issues


  • Real Estate Purchase
  • Financing, Including Loans and Loan Guarantees for Renewable Energies
  • Power Purchase & Sale Agreements
  • Waste Water, Solid Waste & Water Contracts
  • Power (Grid & Distributed), and Gas (with Utilities Team)
  • Voice, Video & Data
  • New Technologies (Licensing, Installation, etc.)
  • Environmental and “Green Benefits” Due Diligence

Relationship Documents

  • Covenants & Restrictions/Community Codes
  • Conservation Easements
  • Industrial Ecology Contracts
  • Homeowner Association Documents
  • Condominium Documents (with Real Estate Team)
  • Joint Development Agreements
  • Intellectual Property Agreements (with Intellectual Property Team)

Risk Management & Opportunity Development as Enterprise Partners

  • Conflict Mineral Due Diligence
  • Advising On Energy, Natural Resource, and Climate Change Matters
  • Counsel On Energy Technology Issues and Sustainable Water & Waste Infrastructure for Private Equity Funds
  • Emission Reduction Offsets, REC Agreements, and Low-Carbon Technology Development
  • Marketing of “Green” Products, Services, and Packaging
  • Environmental Content of Products
  • California-specific issues related to supply chain transparency, cap-and-trade, the feed-in tariff, or air resources
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