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Tag Archives | Green Building Law

Initial Legal Thoughts on the LEED 2009 Minimum Program Requirements

As you may know, USGBC’s LEED v3 program launched this past Monday, April 27. Project teams currently pursuing LEED certification under any of the Version 2 programs can opt into LEED v3 for no additional registration fee through the end of the year. The Version 2 programs will be available to project teams for registration until June 26; after that date, all projects must proceed with registration under LEED v3. LEED v3 is comprised of what USGBC calls “LEED 2009″ revisions to the suite of LEED rating systems (other than Homes and Neighborhood Development, which are not changing under v3), a new online interface for project teams, and a shift in the administration of the LEED certification process to the Green Building Certification Institute (“GBCI”). USGBC calls the LEED 2009 credit revisions “a reorganization of the existing commercial and institutional LEED rating systems along with several key advancements.” The revisions contemplate harmonization (i.e., credits and prerequisites are consistent across all LEED 2009 rating systems), credit weighting (i.e., greater emphasis on energy efficiency), and regionalization (up to four bonus credits for projects that address a local environmental issue of import). Although they are important to review for background purposes, the thrust of this article is not to detail the mechanics of the LEED v3 program. Rather, a number of the new minimum program requirements (“MPRs”) present some novel legal issues for project teams- and their attorneys- to consider in connection with drafting construction agreements or leasing documents in connection with LEED v3 projects.

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Green Construction Claims Demonstrate Need for Design Professional Due Diligence

Yesterday, I gave a presentation to a local architecture and interior design firm on current trends in green construction law. I was impressed at how willing the firm’s design professsionals were to listen to my thoughts on the emerging risks associated with green design. In addition to suggesting a number of other legal issues, I selected a handful of claims reported by Maryland-based attorney Frank Musica at the 2007 AIA National Convention in San Antonio to open up a discussion on form contract language – particularly from the AIA documents – and suggested how certain applicable provisions might be amended to reduce the architect’s risk when rendering green design services. The claim that made the biggest splash with my audience yesterday was where Musica reported how an architect failed to perform sufficient due diligence in crafting green building specifications for a particular project and specified what turned out to be a patented solar shading system. After the project was complete, the patent holder approached the owner and demanded a licensing fee for its use of the system. The owner pointed a finger at the architect and sought indemnification under the terms of the parties’ agreement.

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Paul D’Arelli Calls San Francisco Green Building Ordinance “LEED on Acid”

In an article that we recently posted over at gbNYC, green building attorney Paul D’Arelli of the Greenberg Traurig law firm calls San Francisco’s new green building legislation “LEED on acid.” Mr. D’Arelli points out that San Francisco’s new legislation now penalizes developers who redevelop real property, holding them to a higher green standard than developers who are building on vacant parcels. For example, if a project involves demolition work, it must achieve an additional 10 percent in LEED points in order to comply with the ordinance. “There is no correlation required in terms of the extra points required to comply with the mandated 10 percent increase and the goals sought to be advanced in rehabilitating rather that redeveloping buildings, namely preserving embodied energy and materials in existing buildings and reducing the consumption of energy and materials in constructing new building,” D’Arelli writes.

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The Role of Risk Management at Greenbuild versus West Coast Green

I think it’s interesting to compare the treatment that green building risk management issues received at Greenbuild as compared to West Coast Green. We pointed out over at gbNYC earlier this fall that the latter included a panel discussion titled “Packing a Parachute: Practices that Minimize Risk and Prompt Best Use of Green Features,” while the legal issues associated with building green received very little attention at Greenbuild. As we have noted extensively at gbNYC, the West Coast Green panel similarly stressed that there is no such thing as a form green construction contract or “magic” green provision that can satisfactorily account for the risks associated with green construction. It’s important for stakeholders – or other organizations staging similar conferences – to recognize that attorneys in this space are attempting to assist the industry in mitigating emerging risks up front, in the transactional context, rather than through litigation.

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