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Green Hotel Development Lawyer: UNLV-JMBM Hotel Developers Conference 2008

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16 March 2008
Las Vegas Hotel Developers Conference. For the hundreds of hotel developers, operators, builders, vendors and consultants that flew into Las Vegas to attend the UNLV-JMBM Hotel Developers Conference™, it was hard to miss the half-dozen towers pushing up from the desert floor that mark MGM Mirage CityCenter™.

Learning how (and why) this $8 billion construction effort — the largest privately constructed building effort in North America — is building “green” into every facet of the project was just one of the highlights of the first day’s program at the UNLV-JMBM Hotel Developers Conference™ on Green Hotels. To see the growing library of green hotel resources listed in go to Green Hotel Lawyer: ULI’s Urban Land article on Greening Hotels.)

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Between the welcoming remarks made by UNLV Provost, Dr. Neal Smatresk, and the spontaneous applause received by the day’s last panel on green hotel operations, this was a serious crowd of industry leaders who wanted more than the glossy introduction to green building 101. They were here to dig in and get the real practical advice and guidance of green-building veterans.

Dan Esty’s Keynote and a Critical Theme.

Jim Butler, Chairman of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group and author of, introduced keynote speaker Dan Esty of Yale University, author of Green to Gold, saying that Esty’s book was the kind of practical wisdom and documented research that makes a compelling case on why business cannot afford NOT to go green.

Esty shared with us the lessons learned from his 5 years of research in which he interviewed hundreds of top executives about the business logic used for working environmental issues into their corporate strategies. It seems that many executives understand that a policy shift is inevitable, as society seeks to manage its finite resources. But he points out that at this moment in time, there are no controls for regulating greenhouse gases (GHG) — they are currently voluntary.
Business prefers steady, predictable change to the sudden imposition of regulations, so many companies are participating in the change to “green” their companies. And in turn, the government is engaging the business community in the process. Instead of the government determining which technology will be imposed on industry, we are now in an environment where industry will pay for the harms and impacts they cause. There is also strong recognition on Wall Street that carbon exposure is part of analytics for company’s long term success. It’s a whole new ballgame.

Companies like WALMART and GE are investing in green strategies at the highest level. Why? They want to ensure the profitability and long term value of their companies. Hoteliers understand that, in a world where oil is more than $100 a barrel and rising, it makes sense to put energy efficient systems in place. And in the US, where 40% of GHG emissions come from buildings, buildings will inevitably face controls and regulations. So hoteliers also need to understand that greening their buildings is a smart thing to do, now.

Esty started a theme that reverberated throughout the Conference, culminating in the Climate Change Regulation Panel. There has been a sea change. You have to understand how climate change issues — regulations, incentives and public sentiment — will affect your business. You have to understand your carbon footprint – your impact on the world – and that you will pay a price for that impact. In fact that is why JMBM formed its Climate Change Regulation group more than a year ago.

In the next posting, we will bring you more details of the green hotel conference, or for a preview, you can go to Green Lodging News where Glenn Hasek did a nice job of summing it up.

This is Jim Butler, author of and hotel lawyer, signing off. We’ve done more than $50 billion of hotel transactions and more than 100 hotel mixed-used deals in the last 5 years alone. Who’s your hotel lawyer?

Our Perspective. We represent developers, owners and lenders. We have helped our clients as business and legal advisors on more than $50 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,000 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at or 310.201.3526.

Jim Butler is one of the top hotel lawyers in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” or “hotel mixed-use” or “condo hotel lawyer” and you will see why.

Jim devotes 100% of his practice to hospitality, representing hotel owners, developers and lenders. Jim leads JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® — a team of 50 seasoned professionals with more than $50 billion of hotel transactional experience, involving more than 1,000 properties located around the globe. In the last 5 years alone, Jim and his team have assisted clients with more than 100 hotel mixed-use projects, all of which have involved at least some residential, and many have also involved significant spa, restaurant, retail, office, sports, and entertainment components — frequently integrated with energizing lifestyle elements.

Jim and his team are more than “just” great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them. They are a major gateway of hotel finance, facilitating the flow of capital with their legal skill, hospitality industry knowledge and ability to find the right “fit” for all parts of the capital stack. Because they are part of the very fabric of the hotel industry, they are able to help clients identify key business goals, assemble the right team, strategize the approach to optimize value and then get the deal done.

Jim is frequently quoted as an expert on hotel issues by national and industry publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, BusinessWeek, and Hotel Business. A frequent author and speaker, Jim’s books, articles and many expert panel presentations cover topics reflecting his practice, including hotel and hotel-mixed-use investment and development, negotiating, re-negotiating or terminating hotel management agreements, acquisition and sale of hospitality properties, hotel finance, complex joint venture and entity structure matters, workouts, as well as many operating and strategic issues.

Jim Butler is a Founding Partner of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP and he is Chairman of the firm’s Global Hospitality Group®. If you would like to discuss any hospitality or condo hotel matters, Jim would like to hear from you. Contact him at or 310.201.3526. For his views on current industry issues, visit