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February 10, 2011
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In October 2010, Henry Gifford filed a lawsuit against USGBC alleging misrepresentation claims against USGBC and some of its individual founders regarding its LEED rating system. The crux of the suit centers on Gifford’s claims that USGBC and the LEED green building rating system makes false promises about energy performance of LEED buildings. The original complaint named Rick Fedrizzi, Rob Watson and other individuals as defendants, included misrepresentation style claims, and also included monopolization anti-trust based claims.

shhThe GBCI has quietly changed the rules associated with the LEED challenge process.  Few people were even aware of the challenge process and its implications until the Northland Pines High School challenge became a topic of discussion and even controversy.  The original LEED challenge process permitted literally anyone to bring a challenge to a LEED certification at any time.  Chris Cheatham covered the Northland Pines challenge and its aftermath in a series of great posts.

June 24, 2010
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LEED PlatinumThe blogs have been crackling for several weeks with reports and analysis of the LEED "challenge" process.  Chris Cheatham devoted a multiple part series to analyzing the challenge filed and ultimately rejected to the LEED Gold certification awarded to the Northland Pines High School in Wisconsin.  Shari Shapiro has discussed the same and included an interesting interview with the challengers discussing their reasoning for the protest.

April 2, 2010
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Darwin Very Gradual Change We Can Believe InThe official word is now circulating that GBCI and USGBC are dramatically altering the inspection and certification process for LEED certifications.  Last week, I posted the very surprising information that major changes were potentially in the works for GBCI certifications based on a comment at a seminar I attended.  GBCI's initial comments on the blog post appeared to reflect that the initial information was slightly off, but the thrust of problems and resulting changes to the third party inspection protocol appeared accurate.

yo-yos In 2008, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) announced it was planning to shift its internally run certification of buildings to independent certifiers administered by a sister non-profit, the Greeen Building Certification Institute (GBCI).  A speaker at an USGBC - National Capital Region event declared last Wednesday that USGBC was taking steps to reverse this direction and bring the LEED certification process back in house to USGBC.

The Trends in Building Green panel last Thursday morning was a great success.  There were a couple interesting take-aways from the panel's materials and presentations:

  • Smart property owners need to be taking energy savings seriously; Tommy Russo, Chief Technology Officer of Akridge, described their highly detailed efforts to analyze and implement projects with a reasonable return of investment horizon;
  • Per Tom Mawson, Executive Director of the USGBC National Capital Region Chapter, the "USGBC is all about market transformation"
  • Bobby Christian, CEO of Green 20 Now, LLC, and Mike Scelzi, President of Net Metering, Inc. demonstrated just how far we have come with access to energy metering information, and its implications on operations and cost savings
  • Chris Pyke, Director of Research for USGBC, provided a wonderful overview of where LEED has been and where it may be going, in particular in the context of on-going performance of buildings and where those measures may not match design.  For Chris and USGBC, the question primary question: "Is there a commitment to demonstrated performance ... which is leadership" with regards to energy efficiency and sustainability.
  • I covered some of the press crititiques of LEED, what the actual projects demonstrated, and finally where the performance debate may create significant liability issues in the future

My presentation is here for those who are interested.  Mike Scelzi was also kind to provide his presntation as well.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or are interested in tracking down some of the participants or issues we covered.

USGBC Logo on GlassWading through the various layers of requirements, enticements, incentives and regulations that apply to green building can be overwhelming to anyone, let alone the uninitiated.  This process is made far more complicated by adding the layering of federal, state, and local government efforts in this field.

The United States Green Building Council has this effort very easy with regards to LEED related public policy searches.  USGBC has a search engine with multiple selectable criteria to sift through the oceans of regulations to find what you are looking for.  I cannot say the entire database is perfect, but I can say that it appeared that the Virginia state and local discussion was basically accurate, including the status of the green building ordinances in Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the City of Alexandria.

January 12, 2010
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LEED Green Building Bellevue Washington I am pleased to invite everyone to attend the upcoming Trends in Building Green Seminar on January 21, 2010. 

Date:       January 21, 2010

Time:       9:00 am - 12:00 pm (breakfast 8:30 am)

Location: National Rural Electric Cooperative Ass'n

                  4301 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA 22203

A full listing of speakers and information is available, but the main topic is on green buildings and energy.  I will be speaking on some of the historical energy related issues with LEED structures, the attention they have received, and what this may translate to in the future both for LEED and liability exposure;  these topics have received a lot of interest and commentary generally, and we have also commented on them frequently here.

Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to Nancy Shipley of Rutherfoord by Tuesday, January, 19 at 703-813-6575, or nancy.shipley@rutherfoord.com.

Image by Wonderlane

November 13, 2009
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Mark TwainThere are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Mark Twain, paraphrasing Benjamin Disraeli

We have a new and very interesting recent report on green building to examine, the Regional Green Building Case Study Project: A post-occupancy study of LEED projects in Illinois. The Illinois report studied a mix of projects of various certifications levels, certified under various versions of LEED, with various applications, that used various baselines, and that used various reporting methods for utilities. The small sample and disparate projects involved lends itself towards a scattershot of data.

We have previously discussed the New York Times article criticizing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its arguable lack of translation to improved energy efficiency.  We also discussed energy codes and their interplay with LEED and ongoing reporting.  More recently, similar concerns were raised with respect to performance of LEED certified buildings at Dartmouth College (hat tip to Rich Cartlidge who wrote a nice piece on this topic with an ensuing series of good comments). Stephen Del Percio of Green Real Estate Law Journal has similarly analyzed the 2007 reports from the University of Massachusetts that found various LEED certified buildings used significantly more energy than anticipated under applicable modeling used for the LEED certification process.