San Francisco Homes to be Certified by GreenPoints Rating System



Build It Green, a Berkeley, California non-profit organization, will provide green building certification for new San Francisco residences.  San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom recently approved a green building ordinance that requires new small residential buildings (those having four dwellings or fewer) to achieve certain ratings from Build It Green’s GreenPoints rating system.

Starting next year, the homes must achive 25 GreenPoints.  In 2010 and 2011, the residences must demonstrate a minimum of 50 GreenPoints, and that number rises to 75 in 2012. 

Under the San Francisco ordinance, commercial buildings and larger residential buildings can either get certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program or achieve GreenPoints ratings.

The GreenPoints rating system appears to be a lesser known, California equivalent of the LEED certfication.  Like its more famous cousin, the GreenPoints rating takes into account energy efficiency, resource conservation, indoor air quality and water conservation.

Build It Green has a dozen trademark, service mark and certification mark applications for various aspects of its green building ratings and services, including U.S. Application Serial No. 77/359,607 (77359607app.pdf) for the GreenPoint Rated logo (shown above).

But Build It Green has had some difficulty in registering its eco-marks.  Not surprisingly, the marks BUILD IT GREEN (for dissemination of educational materials and programs in the field of green building) and CERTIFIED GREEN BUILDING PROFESSIONAL (for certification of professionals in the field of green building) were initially refused by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) as “merely descriptive” of the services provided.

This is because one can’t get a federal registration for a trademark if it merely describes or is a generic term for the goods or services provided.  The rationale is that registering such terms would restrict the ability of competitors to provide those goods or services.  (see previous posts about my descriptiveness battle , ,  and here)

However, the word mark GREENPOINT RATED is moving towards registration.  Build It Green successfully overcame a rejection in which the PTO stated that there may be a likelihood of confusion between its mark and GREENPOINT LANDING.

In its response, Build It Green pointed out the differences in the terms of the marks and argued that the latter mark refers only to the Brooklyn neighborhood where the applicant’s property transaction occurred.  The PTO was persuaded, and the GREENPOINT RATED mark has moved out of substantive examination.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.