My good friend Stephen Del Percio over at the Green Real Estate Law Journal just broke the fact that perennial LEED critic Henry Gifford has filed a class action suit on behalf of "consumers, taxpayers, and building design and construction professionals" against the USGBC for:
- monopolization through fraud,
- unfair competition,
- deceptive trade practices,
- false advertising,
- wire fraud, and
- unjust enrichment.
A full copy of the filing is available on Stephen's website (direct link here), and from what I can tell the vast majority of the allegations are based on claims the USGBC has made about energy efficiency tied to the (much discussed) NBI study about performance of early LEED buildings, and their failure to overturn the (also much discussed) certification of the Northland Pines High School when it was appealed. Essentially he appears to be claiming that the USGBC is fraudulently representing both that LEED buildings save energy and that their review process adequately provides the 'third-party verification' that they claim. As a result of these deceptions, we the consumers, the taxpayers, and designers have all been duped into using (and training for) LEED. This has allowed the development of a sort of rating system monopoly that damages other systems like EnergyStar, Passivhaus, etc.
Surprisingly relevant given past post images...
For the record, I'm not an attorney, so the above and following opinions about this case are worth likely next to nothing. My first take is that, as before, Henry Gifford has taken a few valid complaints with the LEED system, sprinkled in some questionable logic, and overblown these complaints to epic proportions. I'll suggest checking in with the Green Real Estate Law Journal and the Green Building Law Update for more on this in the future, as it's a topic I'm sure they'll jump on in the coming weeks. I'm extremely interested to hear your take on this, and would strongly encourage everyone to at least skim the claim itself before responding.
- Breaking: Henry Gifford Leads Class Action Lawsuit Against USGBC in Southern District of New York - Green Real Estate Law Journal 10.12.2010 - Very brief post first highlighting suit and linking to original claim.
- USGBC, LEED Targeted by Class-Action Suit - Environmental Building News* 10.14.2010 - Much more in-depth profile of the claim with commentary from USGBC representatives, Gifford, and others.
I'll be adding additional sources of information as they're discovered.
*FULL DISCLOSURE: Environmental Building News is owned by Building Green, Inc., which is a sponsor to this site.