Innovative building owners looking for a break in insurance premiums and benefits can now look to new opportunities in sustainability, according to professionals at Novato, CA-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. (www.firemansfund.com). According to Stephen B. Bushnell, product director, real estate innovation, at Fireman’s Fund, “We wanted to make sustainable buildings a sustainable program for Fireman’s Fund. A year-and-a-half in the making, it took a lot of study in exploring and defining green buildings. The result is a recognition of the superior qualities in these buildings and the investment that professionals and companies have made in that quality.”
Fireman’s Fund offers a unique combination of coverages to protect not only those property owners who have been green certified, but also to those who have not (or who are in the process of making green improvements). Building owners who have green-certified buildings need insurance coverage that supports their standards and protects their assets.
Conventional insurance policies only cover the cost to restore a building to its original condition. Under Fireman’s Fund’s Green Building Replacement, Green Upgrade, and Commissioning coverages - which were announced by the company in mid-October - commercial property owners and managers are able to rebuild and replace with green alternatives such as:
- Non-toxic, low-odor paints and carpet.
- ENERGY STAR®-rated electrical equipment.
- Interior lighting systems that meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED® rating system or the Green Building Initiative’s (GBI) Green Globes requirements.
- Water-efficient interior plumbing.
- ENERGY STAR-qualified roof and insulation materials.
- Commissioning (engineering inspection of systems such as HVAC).
Fireman’s Fund has worked closely with the LEED program and the Green Globes program to ensure that its coverage and upgrade options align with the industry’s major green-certification procÃ‚Âesses. As part of the product offerings, Fireman’s Fund will pay for the application process for a building to become certified by these organizations.
In circumstances where buildings have been green certified by the USGBC or the GBI, Fireman’s Fund will cover sustainable building elements such as vegetated roofs and alternative energy and water systems. In case of a total loss, Fireman’s Fund will cover for the rebuilding to also be green certified.
For buildings that aren’t quite there yet (but are looking to go green), the company provides an upgrade package as part of its green product. For example, if there is a fire in the building, Fireman’s Fund will pay for the upgrade to replace the carpet with green-certified carpet and ENERGY STAR office equipment. If there is a total loss, the building owner will be covered for the entire rebuild to be green certified.
Commissioning is offered for both types of buildings: existing and new construction. Engineers are commissioned to inspect systems such as HVAC after they are installed to ensure that they are running properly and are truly energy efficient.
For building owners, such coverages further validate the continuing viability of green and sustainable practices in building design, construction, and management. In addition to protecting the bottom line, owners have been given another tool to increase their buildings’ asset value and attract high-quality tenants.