Data Centers – From the Clouds – Much Ado about ESG!

We had the opportunity to chat with some of the leading owners and builders of data centers space today on our Data Centers Task Force group meeting. Fascinating and fun conversation with Aaron Binkley of Digital Realty and David Hall and David Sitkowski from Clune Construction Company.

Some key take aways from the conversation:

– multiple new entrants into the data center space are putting pressure on rents (upward) with a lot of venture capital funding the new entries

– Increased focus by Owners (and customer/users) on renewable energy with an understanding that the renewable energy is cheaper but NOT Free.

– Energy markets remain a bit volatile for renewable energy with federal tariff on solar panels continuing to negatively impact supply

– Climate related reporting from the EU taxonomy, Singapore and potential SEC proposed rules creating a continued ESG focus by owners and customers in the Date Center space

– Supply chain issues continue to negatively affect delivery times and cost – causing consternation but opportunity as well

– Noting generators are taking in certain locations over 72 weeks for delivery and switch gear breakers taking over 16 months for delivery from the normal 6 months

– Labor Shortages continue in various markets delaying jobs – e.g., Pacific NW on carpentry and Phoenix on electricians and other trades

– Deals continue to increase in size and scale despite increased need for local based service of smaller scale

– Increased cooperating and sharing of work pipeline to enable design and build on time

– increased federal work in the data center site space

– increased interest by customers in LEED and Energy Star certifications but not everywhere

– increased interest in power coming from solar and wind sources both on site and off site through power purchase agreements (e.g., in VA, TX, CA, Illinois and NJ)

– customers and employees continuing to ask about sustainable features in buildings and in power supply and other areas of design

– Communities are beginning to wake up to data centers and in certain locations object to their noise and power consumption, noting the lack of traffic and school impacts given their use

– Water is becoming more and more relevant to the conversation and how water is or is not used in cooling systems (noting – Digital Realty does not use water in its cooling solution but towns where they operate are starting to ask about this resource)

– Permitting for generators which used to be relatively easy to obtain is now starting to get a bit trickier and harder to get on an over the counter baiss given potential air quality issues and diesel for generator issues – resulting in additional time for development permits

– Site Selection – certain jurisdictions with a high amount of data centers are beginning to increase real estate taxes for the data center user/owner which will likely, in turn, have these owners focus on other locations which are not so pricey by way of taxes.

From the Cloud – on balance, labor shortages, supply chain and increased focus by customers on ESG is driving various changes to design and build in the data center space to ensure timely and on budget deliveries. While supply chain issues should clear up in Q4 to Q1 of 23′, the focus on ESG should continue well into the future as more and more customers are adopting GhG reduction targets and more and more owners follow the lead of big industry players like Digital Realty and Prologis.

Duane Morris has an active Data Centers Team as well as an ESG and Sustainability Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on your data center project and your Sustainability and ESG planning and initiatives. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you. For more information or if you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Jeff Hamera, Joel Ephross, Robert Montejos or David Amerikaner or the attorney in the firm with whom you in regular contact.or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.


ESG – NJ BPU awards 165 MW of Community Solar in Yr 2 of Pilot Program

Earlier this week, on October 28, 2021, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) approved 105 applications under New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program.  The applications and awards will create 165 megawatts of clean energy – enough energy to power approximately 33,000 homes – available to low-to-moderate income and historically underserved communities. Year 2 of the pilot program represented a significant increase in the amount of power generated (i.e., from 78 MW to 165 MW) and the number of applications seeking to install community solar.

According to Governor Murphy, “our Community Solar Pilot Program is a national model for clean energy equity and environmental justice, This program not only makes solar available to those in historically underserved communities, but also will spur economic growth and create career opportunities for a diverse, more inclusive workforce. Community solar is a key pillar in our commitment to transition New Jersey away from harmful emissions and towards 100% clean energy by 2050.”

A community solar project is a solar array whose output is divided between multiple homes or businesses that want to use renewable energy but don’t have a solar array on-site.

Community solar programs aim to create a more equitable solar market.

According to NJ BIZ, the projects will each allocate a minimum of 51% of their capacity to low- and moderate-income participants and will all be located on landfills, brownfields or rooftops.

Though 105 projects were approved, the NJBPU received 412 applications, representing almost 804 MW, for the second year of the pilot program.

In the pilot program’s first year, the BPU received a total of 252 applications representing more than 650 MW of total capacity, and approved 45 applications providing almost 78 MW in solar energy capacity.

Earlier this month, the BPU announced that it will be moving forward to make the Community Solar Pilot Program permanent.

Triple Bottom Line – New Jersey continues to be a factor in the US solar market place.  Making the community solar pilot program a permanent program will continue to position the state as a leader in solar deployment and per capita renewable energy use.  The power creation represented by the program will likely solidify existing solar jobs  and create new ones to service the demand for installations and service.  Low and Moderate income families will benefit by the cheaper cost of energy given the renewable nature of the deployment.  As the program moves to a permanent status we will continue to keep an eye on the regulations and report back with our findings.

Duane Morris has an active ESG and Sustainability Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on Sustainability and ESG planning and initiatives within their own space. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you. For more information, or if you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Nanette Heide, Jolie-Anne S. Ansley, David Amerikaner,  Seth Cooley, Vijay Bange, Stephen Nichol, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.


ESG – Wynn Resorts Announces Sustainability Goals with public ESG Reporting – Big Moves!

Earlier this week, on September 21, 2021 Wynn Resorts issued its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report, which included the Company’s collective pledges and defined goals to decrease emissions and confront the mounting risk of climate change.

According to the report, Wynn Resorts has achieved various ESG and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals, with strides being made in community outreach and crisis relief efforts, responsible business practices, and human rights.

In the report’s forward, Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox remarked, “…operating in today’s socially and environmentally-fraught world, [the company] is called to a higher standard: to take responsibility, not just for our decisions, but for the all future impacts of those decisions. Impacts we ourselves may not live to see, but will have caused, nonetheless. Decision-making with careful consideration to the impacts 20 or 30 years from now isn’t just essential, it’s an existential imperative. That is what the future demands of us.”

The Wynn Resorts sustainability program, known as Goldleaf, attempts to bring solutions to the wide range of environment and climate challenges that are unique to each resort that Wynn Resorts operates.

Under the direction of CEO Matt Maddox and Chief Sustainability Officer Erik Hansen, the Company has committed to the following Wynn Resorts Corporate Sustainability Goals:

Net-Zero by 2050: To reduce or offset all carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by our operations no later than 2050.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Peak by 2030: To stop and reverse year-over-year growth of operational carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030.

50% Renewable Energy Procurement by 2030: To increase Wynn Resorts supply of renewable energy produced or procured to at least 50% of total consumption by 2030.

The above commitments are aligned with the recommendations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as referenced in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

In 2020, Wynn Resorts completed several major projects in renewable energy, waste diversion, and emissions reduction, including:

Wynn Resorts installed 23 Megawatts of solar power capacity in the United States, which offsets 100% of the energy consumed in the 560,000 square-feet of convention space in Las Vegas, and up to 75% of the peak power demands of the entire 10-million-square-foot Las Vegas resort.

Wynn Las Vegas reduced its annual energy consumption by 20% in 2020 relative to 2015 through capital investments in critical energy-reducing technologies and operational efficiencies, most notably the 160-acre Wynn Solar Field and a concerted effort on preventive systems maintenance.

Encore Boston Harbor received 100% of its energy from renewable and green sources of power and, according to the Report, is the first integrated resort in the Unites States with an onsite microgrid balancing solar energy production, combined heat and power co-generation, and battery storage.

Wynn Las Vegas reduced Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions by over 80,000 metric tons from 2019 to 2020, achieved by offsetting energy procured from traditional fossil fuel-based generation with renewable and green energy products. 

Encore Boston Harbor diverted 100% of waste from the landfill in 2020 during its first full year of operation, utilizing its comprehensive waste management infrastructure of recycling, composting and waste-to-energy conversion to ensure no waste goes to a landfill.

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox spearheaded the creation of one of the hospitality industry’s first science-based Health & Safety Plan, which Maddox presented during the White House Business Council on Reopening. The plan became the preeminent roadmap to a successful reopening effort, with policies adopted by several other international brands and industries.

Wynn Las Vegas collaborated with University Medical Center (UMC) to open the UMC COVID-19 Vaccination Center, the first vaccination site to be located onsite at a resort, which administered over 50,000 vaccinations to eligible Nevada residents.

Wynn Las Vegas built and opened the Lighthouse Lab COVID-19 testing facility, a 3,000-square-foot facility at the resort staffed by medical professionals from Lighthouse Lab Services who administer up to 7,000 PCR tests per day, helping usher the return of convention business and group events.

Globally, per the Report, Wynn Resorts donated $23 million USD in funds and in-kind donations to charities in 2020, which included $4.75 million in direct COVID-19 relief efforts, almost $1 million in food and meals, and over 2.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment to recipients like the Nevada National Guard and the Macau Government. In addition, Wynn Resorts global workforce volunteered over 34,000 hours of time in 2020.

The Wynn Resorts Human Rights Policy was broadened in 2020 to include specific expectations and core principles for diversity, inclusion, and non-discrimination. In addition, the Wynn Resorts Diversity Council drafted the first Wynn Resorts DEI Policy to codify goals that foster a culture of inclusion, embrace a diverse workforce, and develop vendor partnerships that create a fair and equal economy.

According to the company, extensive training and security procedures were enhanced in 2020 to combat human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, including the development of a company-wide training program for trafficking awareness that will be mandatory for all employees.

The Wynn Resorts ESG Report presents information that references select Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and Sustainability Accounting Board Standards (SASB).

Triple Bottom Line – Wynn’s public announcement of their Sustainability Goals is a big step and will likely put pressure on their competitors to make similar announcements regarding their plans. Time will tell. Care to take a bet on this front?

Duane Morris has an active ESG and Sustainability Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on Sustainability and ESG planning and initiatives within their own space. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you. For more information, or if you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Nanette Heide, Darrick Mix, Jolie-Anne S. Ansley, David Amerikaner, Adam Berger, Frank DiGiacomo, Vijay Bange, Stephen Nichol, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Governor Murphy Selects 20 Member NJ Council on the Green Economy

Early today, February 25, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy announced his 20 picks to the newly created NJ Council on the Green Economy (“NJCOGE“). 

This Council on the Green Economy and the umbrella organization of the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy are focused on “building a roadmap for transitioning the workforce into high-quality, family-sustaining clean energy jobs that will provide opportunities for all New Jerseyans” per Governor Murphy.

As announced in the 2021 budget discussions, various state leaders believe that NJ’s recovery from the pandemic will be partly driven by the clean energy economy – one centered around clean power sources and offshore wind and on shore solar.

Governor Murphy’s $44.8 billion plan discussed in his Budget Address on February 23rd calls for $200 million to be invested in an “offshore wind port” in Camden County along the Delaware River. This wind port is intended to serve as a staging area for supply chains related to the growing wind industry and provide a place to ship wind turbines across the country.

Separately, NJ is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the solar installation arena given its current TREC program.

The 20-members of the NJ COGE are:

Honorary Chair: First Lady Tammy Murphy
Executive Director: Jane Cohen, executive director, Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy
Co-Chair: Shawn LaTourette, acting commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Co-Chair: Robert Asaro-Angelo, commissioner, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Co-Chair: Joseph Fiordaliso, president, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Donnel Baird, founder, BlocPower
Tom Churchelow, president, New Jersey Utilities Association
Francisco Cortes, president, NJ State Veterans Chamber of Commerce and Corporate Advisory Board Member of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce New Jersey
Dave Daly, president, PSE&G
Kim Gaddy, environmental justice organizer, Clean Water Action
Aisha Glover, vice president of urban innovation, Audible
Lisa Jackson, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator and vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, Apple
Sean Jackson, chief executive officer, Isles
Andrea Jung, president and chief executive officer, Grameen America
John Kennedy, chief executive officer, New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program
Kevin Lyons, associate professor of supply chain archaeology, Rutgers University
Debra Coyle McFadden, executive director, New Jersey Work Environment Council
Bill Mullen, president, New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council
Alli Gold Roberts, director of state policy, Ceres
Charlie Wowkanech, president, AFL-CIO

The goal of the NJ COGE will be to provide sustainable energy career options for thousands of NJ workers.

Just this past September, Governor Murphy signed a first of its kind “environmental justice” bill which will focus resources and attention environmentally on many lower-income, minority neighborhoods long plagued by some of the worst pollution in the state according to NJ BIZ.

That measure requires large-scale projects – whether new construction or an expansion to an existing building – that produces heavy pollution in lower-income, typically African American and Latino communities, to report on and consider the local impact.

Duane Morris has an active ESG and Sustainability Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on Sustainability and ESG planning and initiatives within their own space.  We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you.  Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky,  (, Seth Cooley, Lori Mills, David Amerikaner or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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