Volume 42, Issue 7 - July 2007

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Fireman’s Fund Insurance 
First to Offer Discount for Green Buildings

A new insurance program is available that offers commercial building owners discounts for green, sustainable buildings. Novato, Calif.-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Companies developed certified green building replacement and green upgrade coverage, which applies to buildings that are green-certified, as well as buildings and facilities whose owners would like to capture green benefits. Fireman’s Fund worked with the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGB) LEED program and the Green Building Initiative’s (GBI) Green Globes program to ensure its coverage and upgrade options align with the industry’s major green certification programs. 

“Our discount applies to the completed, certified green building,” says Steve Bushnell, product director for Fireman’s Fund. “We do not offer a discounted price for the builder while the building is under construction. The certified building discount (5 percent) is the same for all LEED ratings and is based largely on commissioning which is a prerequisite for any LEED certification.”

Under the program, commercial property owners and managers can receive insurance discounts for rebuilding and/or replacing building materials with green alternatives, including glass.

“Glazing is a key component of energy-efficient and green buildings,” says Bushnell. “We will insure glazing and, following a covered loss, pay to replace the glazing in any building with materials comparable to those in place prior to the loss. We recognize that glazing is part of the overall building envelope and works in conjunction with the rest of the envelope system and HVAC system to produce an energy-efficient building. We did not include glazing in our upgrade form recognizing that you cannot replace ‘ordinary’ glazing with ‘green’ glazing and not make modifications to the HVAC as well.”

Through the program, Fireman’s Fund will pay for the application process for the building to become certified by either the USGBC or GBI. The program covers sustainable building elements, such as certain glass products, and in the case of a total loss, will cover for rebuilding to be green certified. Bushnell says Fireman’s Fund realizes several benefits from this program, including a view that green buildings are better insurance risks (i.e., safer) than traditional buildings. 

“Our most frequent cause of loss for commercial real estate is electrical fires, followed by plumbing and envelope water leaks and HVAC issues,” he says. “Commissioning addresses all of these systems. We anticipate that we will pay fewer losses for green buildings than traditional buildings.”  www.firemansfund.com 

Gainsville, Texas, Glass Businesses Await Flood Calls
Not inches, but feet of water is how one glass shop manager describes the flooding in downtown Gainsville following the June 18 rains that have devastated parts of North Texas.

“We’re literally 100 yards from the flooding,” says Darla Cash, office manager of Glass Doctor in downtown Gainsville. 

“We’re talking cars submerged and people on tops of their houses and refrigerators floating by … it’s unbelievable what I saw,” she says.

Cash says her shop is one of the fortunate businesses that escaped the flooding in the downtown area. Her shop was called to respond June 18 to a local woman’s plea for help. The woman had locked her keys and her baby in her car and had to have them break the window as the water started to rise around the car. The baby and mother escaped injury.

According to Gainsville’s Chamber of Commerce, the initial flooding and rains that continued throughout the third week of June have affected more than 75 businesses in the downtown area alone. At press time the Chamber could not yet give a dollar estimate as a result of the flood.

Another Gainsville glass shop that does automotive replacement is expecting additional jobs, as a result of the storm. “One of the automotive shops we deal with is out of work. They are under four feet of water and all of the cars they were working on are now totaled,” says Jody Slaten, co-owner of A Quality Glass. 

“Everyone is just waiting for the insurance companies now,” Slaten says. 

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