Donald S. SimonAttorney

Wendel Rosen LLP 1111 Broadway, 24th FloorOakland, CA 94607

Donald primarily focuses on matters related to business and construction law, solar energy, green building, cannabis industry, and environmental policy.  He has broad experience representing public and private clients on a multitude of contract, litigation, regulatory and general business issues.  Donald co-founded the firm’s Green Business Practice Group and led the firm’s internal sustainability efforts, including becoming the nation’s first law firm to gain green business certification.

Donald is a national leader and frequent speaker for the green economy and has devoted himself to creating the framework necessary for incenting business to become the engine of environmental sustainability and social responsibility.  He co-chaired the effort to write and pass California's Benefit Corporation law (AB 361), creating a new legal framework for businesses seeking to do well while doing good.  He co-founded the two organizations that have made California the global green building leader – the U.S. Green Building Council’s Northern California Chapter and Build It Green.  He is general counsel to both organizations, as well as the California Solar Energy Industry Association.  Donald hosted the West Coast Green conference and trade show for green innovation.  On the international level, he teamed with the City of San Francisco in 2005 to organize and host the United Nations’ largest international conference of local government leaders to address urban environmental sustainability issues.  Early in his career, Donald worked with Environmental Defense Fund to develop a framework for reducing international air pollution along U.S. – Mexican border.  He also represented several organizations on issues related to old-growth forest protection and logging on public lands.

After many years in policy arena, Donald recognized the political system’s ability to address complex environmental and social issues is undermined by the corruptive influence of money in politics. Since 2012, he has served on the board of directors of the California Clean Money Campaign, where he continues to work to pass the California DISCLOSE Act which will inform voters who is really funding campaigns.

  • The Need and Rational for the Benefit Corporation, Contributing Author, 2013
  • Inside the Minds: Strategies for Green Real Estate Law, contributing author, 2013
  • “A Structure for Promoting Greater Efficiency in the Real Estate Sector to Address Climate Change,” white paper presented to California Air Resources Board on behalf of California commercial real estate industry, U.S. Green Building Council and the Real Estate Roundtable, 2009
  • "Strong Financial Incentives for Installing Solar Power on California Buildings," Green Building Quarterly, Spring 2006
  • "Industry Trade Associations: Why USGBC Invited Them as Members," Green Building Quarterly, December 2005
  • "Industry Trade Associations: An Impediment to Green Business," Green Building Quarterly, October 2005
  • "California Takes Lead in Promoting Green Building," Green Building Quarterly, August 2005
  • "Governor's Green Executive Order Good for State," Green Building Quarterly, July 6, 2005
  • "Green Building-Turning Ideas Into Reality," Environmental Watch, Sky Radio interview, August 2003
  • White Paper on Industry Trade Associations as Obstacles to Environmental Sustainability, 2005
  • Best Practices Manual, California Collaborative for High Performance Schools, contributing author, 2002



Available Articles:


California Clean Money Campaign
  • Board Member, 2012-present
  • Contributing author of the California DISCLOSE Act, 2012-present

U.S. Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter
  • Co-Founder
  • Board member, 2002 to 2005
  • General Counsel, 2001 to present

Build It Green, Berkeley
  • Co-Founder
  • President, 2001 to 2010
  • Board member, 2001 to 2011
  • General Counsel, 2001 to present

California Solar Energy Industry Association
  • General Counsel, 2010 to present

  • "Contracting Issues for Solar Installers," California Solar Energy Industries Association webinar, September 8, 2015
  • "Legal Issues Surrounding Chemical Ingredient Disclosure in Building Products," City of San Francisco Green Building Task Force, April 8, 2015
  • "Public Policy Impacts of the Green Building Movement," U.S. Green Building Council, March 10, 2015
  • "Legal Implications of Transparency in Building Product Ingredients," U.S. Green Building Council, December 11, 2014
  • "Top Considerations for Solar Energy Project Developers," U.S. Department of Energy webinar, October 30, 2014
  • "Keynote on Social Enterprise," Chabot Community College Social Enterprise Conference, June 2, 2014
  • "Public Policy Implications of Green Chemistry," University of California, Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry, February 21, 2014
  • Keynote, Urban Releaf, December 5, 2013
  • "Greening Law Firms, Association of Legal Administrators, November 2013
  • "Briefing on Benefit Corporations, Law Seminars International, September 12, 2013
  • "Keynote, International Green Industry Hall of Fame, March, 13, 2013
  • "Triple Bottom Line Businesses and Implications for Organizational Development Practitioners," webinar panelist, Pepperdine University, April 16, 2013
  • "Triple Bottom Line and CSR," panelist, Pepperdine University Masters of Science in Organization Development Alumni Council Conference, December 13, 2012
  • Green Technology magazine interview, “A New Kind of Corporation in California for a New Bottom Line,” February 3, 2012
  • "How To Become a Benefit Corporation," Green Chamber of Commerce, December 7, 2011
  • West Coast Green, green innovation trade show and conference, Master of Ceremonies and Presenter, 2006 – 2010
  • Analysis of President Obama's State of the Union Address, Marin Democrats, San Rafael, CA, January 25, 2011
  • Impact of California's 2010 Race For Governor, Marin County Democratic Party, October 2010
  • California Proposition 23 Debate, Bay Area Council, July 22, 2010
  • Frequent speaker on green building and sustainable business in the U.S., 2001 – Present
    • Hot California Green Building Policies, San Francisco Bar Association, May 26, 2011
    • Basic Green Building Liability Considerations, USGBC, August 10, 2010
    • Sustainable Industries Interviews Don Simon, Sustainable Industries magazine podcast, July 28, 2010
    • Trendwatch 2010 Sustainable Industries Journal, Web Conference, January 6, 2010
    • "Green Leasing,"  Pacific Energy Center, June 2008
    • Keynote Address for 10th Anniversary of Bay Area Green Business Certification program, April 2008
    • "Green Building Through the Eyes of the Legal, Finance, Development and Insurance Industries," keynote speaker, CLE International, February 21, 2008
    • "Impact of Climate Change Policy's Impact on the Building Industry" presentation to Building Owners and Managers Association national board meeting, September 2007
    • "Middle Market Green Business Opportunities,"  Alliance for Corporate Growth, August 2007
    • "Economic Summit 2007," California State University East Bay, June 2007
    • "Alameda County Green Business Program 10th Anniversary," Bay Area Green Business Program, April 2007
    • "Green Building Demystified," East Bay chapter of CREW, April 2007
    • "Current Trends in Green/Clean/Sustainable Technology Markets,"  Alliance of Chief Executives CEO Roundtable, March 2007
    • The Business Council on Climate Change, launch, March 2007
    • "Operating a Sustainable Business," California State University East Bay, Sustainable Business Management Program, February 2007
    • "Demystifying the Economics: What it Will Really Cost You to Build Green,"  Developing and Investing in Green Buildings Conference, February 2007
    • Presentation to China's Renewable Energy Trade Mission on U.S. solar industry, March 2006
    • "Environmental Sustainability 101," Rotary International, March 2006
    • Green Building presentation to French nuclear energy industry, April 2005
    • University of San Francisco panel on sustainable business and corporate social responsibility, 2005
    • San Francisco Business Times panel on sustainable business, 2004
    • "California Construction Law: Can This Job Be Saved?" Lorman Education Services, Oakland, 2002 and 2003


Featured Presentations:

  • International Green Industry Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award, April 2014
  • U.S. Green Building Council’s 2012 Leadership President's Award, October 2012
  • “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year” Award, California Lawyer Magazine, February 2012
  • "Founder Recognition" Award, Build It Green, December 2011
  • "B Corp National MVP" Award, B Lab, November 2011
  • "B Corp I'm Just A Bill" Award, B Lab, November 2011
  • "Green Building Visionary" Award, 2nd Annual Build It Green "Green Building Awards," December, 2010
  • “Community Partnership in Sustainability” Corporate Philanthropy Award, San Francisco Business Times, July 2010
  • "Green Leaders," California Real Estate Journal, December 7, 2009
  • “Green Super Hero” Special Achievement Award, U.S. Green Building Council, October 2008
  • Top Attorney in the East Bay for Environmental Sustainability, East Bay Business Times, June 2007
  • "Top 40 Under 40," East Bay Business Times, July 2006


Related News:

Benefit Corporations

Benefit Corporation Legislation
Donald has taken an active leadership role in the passage of AB 361, California's Benefit Corporation legislation, which became effective January 2012. He served on the legal working group that drafted the legislation and championed its passage. Since then, he and other firm attorneys have been helping companies throughout California to take on the Benefit Corporation legal form of entity.  To learn more, please read the press release or watch the following videos showcasing some of the news coverage.

Video Interview: Donald Simon Discusses AB 361 Benefit Corporation Legislation in California

For more information, click here.