In the June, 2011 edition of “New Jersey Lawyer,” Harry E. McLellan, III ESQ outlined several legal issues as they pertain to LEED building certification. The fundamental theme of the article is simple; at least as I see it, Green Building is now main – stream. Perhaps more importantly, this article points out that people are suing green building professionals because buildings aren’t green enough!
When I started in the environmental field, we were fighting for the day when environmental concepts were accepted as standard business practices. Well, the green building industry made it. Professionals are now being sued, are you ready, because building projects that they designed are deemed to be not green enough!
Congratulations to the green building industry!
Of course, in this country, lawsuits are nothing new. Everybody wants guarantees with no risk, and of course, they want these guarantees at no cost. In the green building industry, people assume that everything should work exactly as predicted in a new building (just like in a regular building) and when a building performs at a level less than predicted, it must not be green enough. So, if a building is designed to save 20% on energy costs, and it saves only 15%, there are those customers who think they should sue somebody; in other words, treat the green building industry just like everybody else.
These lawsuits should provide all of us in the green building field with a key lesson. Be careful what you promise, and deliver all that you can and more.
As for the customer, be careful what you ask for and be reasonable in your expectations. More importantly, understand that in green building, the sage rule of design still holds. A project time line should be comprised of 90% planning and 10% implementation.
On any project that I have worked on, where that rule has been followed, things have worked out fine. Where the rule is violated, there are always problems.
Hooray for the green industry, we are mainstream.