Attempting to Meet LEED Standards: The Legal Ramifications

May/June 2010Articles Washington Building Congress Bulletin

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified projects are at an all time high and increasing every year as a result of local, state, and federal incentives or requirements for sustainable “green” commercial development and a national trend towards reducing the nation’s carbon footprint. Owners are increasingly requiring contractors and designers to contractually agree that a particular project will obtain a pre-determined LEED rating at the conclusion of construction. Despite the ever increasing number of LEED projects, the law has not caught up with the green building trend and there is little legislative, regulatory or judicial guidance available. The lack of relevant guidance means that owners, designers and contractors must allocate the risks associated with the potential failure to meet specified or desired LEED ratings contractually on the front end of the project. If the parties do not protect themselves contractually, they run the risk of being unable to obtain acceptable remedies through the courts.

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