The First LEED Lawsuit... Great...

RealLifeLEED just stumbled upon an excellent summary of what could be the first LEED-related lawsuit at gbNYC. Let the frenzy begin! There are a few really scary issues involved, and unfortunately (or perhaps it's a good thing) it appears as though the case has settled out of court, so there's no ruling to work from at the moment.

What is clear is that the major issue was not the LEED certification so much as the incentives (in this case tax credits) the certification should have triggered. Also, it looks like the specs and contracts were a bit weak as well. I'm not going to go into a full description of the suit, as gbNYC has done it already. You can expect more posts on the subject in the future, particularly related to contract, proposal, and marketing language.

What are your main liability concerns related to LEED? Please let us know by leaving a comment!

7 comments:

Paul Cline, AIA said...

Exposure to tax credit liability like this story covers is one significant issue, but what about liability for not reaching the stated energy savings targets after using those savings to 'finance' building upgrades.

Mainly, so far, I am troubled by inexperienced designers including requirements to meet certain LEED certification levels without including adequate direction in the design documents to achieve the required credits.

Thanks for the coverage.

Anonymous said...

While this was the first reported case, there have been quite a few professional liability, contractual liability and warranty claims against architects related to LEED certification. Often because of poor planning and communications during the project, clients are dissatisfied and express that dissatisfaction through a claim. But as we go forward there will be many claims related to LEED certification and the hoped for financial impact such a "seal of approval" can have on government regulations, density waivers and tax credits as well as higher than planned energy costs and maintenance costs and lower than desired rents or project values.

Chris said...

My company has definitely seen a growing interest from lawyers interested in learning about LEED because of liability issues. For instance, check out this article:

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2008/09/08/story11.html#tp_newCommentAnchor

Chris
LEED AP
http://www.everblueenergy.com/

joelmckellar said...

A lawyer at a firm (starting to study for the exam himself) just sent me an article in the ABA Journal that found that of the over 60,000 LEED AP's in the world "126 of them are lawyers."

Christopher G. Hill said...

If only 126 of the LEED AP's are attorneys, then that is an issue given the myriad of issues that green certification will bring from construction contracting to issues with insurance, standard of care, economic loss and bankruptcy.

Mitchell Swann said...

I agree that there are some key potential landmines in green building project execution. A question that continues to rumble thru my head is how does the owner's "actions" related to operations and maintenance factor in to the potential for disputes and damages?

joelmckellar said...

All,

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this post.