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Construction Law Authority / Posts tagged "leed"

Keeping ‘Green’ Contracts Clear

The green building industry is arguably more popular than ever. The number of certified green buildings grows every day across all sectors of the building industry. Unfortunately, the contracts for sustainable projects are sometimes behind the times. Standard construction contracts are often not tailored to address the numerous issues and nuances that may come up on sustainable projects. This potentially puts all contracting parties at greater risk of uncertainty if disputes arise on the job site. Preparation on the front end of a green building is usually the best way to alleviate problems later on, and it starts with the contract. This is true whether the project is one for new construction or for renovations or retro-fitting. First, the contract should be as clear and specific as possible about what the green goal is. Simply using terms like "green building," "sustainable building" or "high-performing building" are not enough, because it is...

Consequential Damages in Green Construction Lawsuits

By Mark J. Stempler

A primary concern in any lawsuit involving green construction is damages.  One party will claim it has been harmed and will typically demand money or specific performance.   There are different types of damages that can be sought including actual damages, future damages, punitive damages, and consequential damages.  That last category raises some unique issues in a green building lawsuit.
Consequential damages are typically defined in Florida as those that do not necessarily, but may directly or indirectly, result from the injury for which compensation is sought.  Consequential damages can include items like loss of use, lost profits, loss of rental income, etc.  These are all issues in the green building context too, but determining the value of these damages may be more difficult to define.  For example, suppose an owner is seeking green building certification for an apartment complex.  If the contractor or other professional responsible for attaining such certification does not get the certification, the owner may be entitled to consequential damages for lost rent for the units.  But, the owner could encounter difficulties in proving the amount of damages.  The owner likely believes that green buildings command higher rents than non-green buildings, but that is not guaranteed.  The burden will be on the owner to prove what that added value would have been.  Or, if the failure to achieve the green certification cause the owner to miss related tax credits or grants, the owner may have a claim for those values.  It will, of course, depend on what representations were made in the contract.  In fact, the loss of tax credits was the issue in one of the first reported green construction lawsuits.  In that case, which eventually settled, the contract contained a waiver of consequential damages.  Another potential scenario is when the project does not deliver the energy cost savings promised to the owner, or promised by an owner to a tenant for example.  Those lost savings may also provide a basis for a consequential damages claim.  These examples illustrate the need for clear and specific language in a construction contract regarding each parties’ representations, expectations and responsibilities.

LEED v4 Passes

by Mark J. Stempler The newest version of the popular LEED Green Rating System is affirmed.  The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announcced that its membership voted to adopt LEED v4 by an overwhelming 86%.  This version of LEED has been in the works for a few years.  Ultimatly, it withstood controversy and was refined through several public comment periods. Changes in LEED v4 from the current version (adopted in 2009) include: *  A new credit category - Location and Transportation; *  A new credit in the Sustainable Sites category - Rainwater Management; and *  New prerequisites in the Water Efficiency category; and *  New requirements for the use of LEED AP's for specific credits. There are several other additions and changes in LEED v4 which will affect numerous types of buildings. For the complete list, check out The full LEED v4 program, along with reference guides, will be unveiled at this year's Greenbuild conference in Philadelphia...

New Version of LEED Rating System May Be Coming Soon

The U.S. Green Building Council’s long awaited updates to the LEED Rating System are almost complete. LEED v4 has been in the works for more than a year. The likely final public comment period for the new rating system ends on March 31st, and voting on the changes is scheduled to begin June 1st.

There are some significant changes in LEED v4. It will include a new credit category, Location and Transportation.   As the name suggests it focuses in part on location of buildings and connectivity to them. Some of the credits in this category, such as bicycle storage, reduced parking capacity and low-emitting vehicles are already part of the existing Sustainable Sites category, so they are just being moved. Speaking of which, a new credit for rainwater management has been added to the Sustainable Sites category in LEED V4, which will be an opportunity to earn points for capturing, treating and controlling on-site runoff.

There are some significant changes in the Water Efficiency category. There will be three prerequisites: Outdoor Water Use Reduction (applicable to projects with exterior vegetated areas); Indoor Water Use Reduction (like the former "Water Use Reduction" prerequisite, it requires 20% water use reduction, and will also require a WaterSense label for certain fixtures and fittings); and Building Level Water Metering (applicable to all projects, it calls for permanent water meters to measure usage, and the data must be shared with the USGBC for 5 years). There are also new credits for Cooling Tower Use and Water Metering.