Melissa Brumback‘s Construction Law in North Carolina blog won the Best Construction Blog competition in 2011, and continues to be a contender this year. The blog’s focus and purpose isn’t surprising, but some of the insights in it are, including the postings about the dangers of signing a contract “under seal” (dramatically extending the statute of limitations on enforcing its provisions) and the risks of setting up contracts where you “guarantee” environmental standards compliance — putting yourself between a rock and a hard place, as you may find you are guaranteeing qualities outside your control, and totally outside any insurance coverage you may think you have.
The newest version of the LEED ratings system, LEED v4, has officially been released. For a comparison of the major changes between LEED 2009 and LEEDv4, check out this downloadable form from the USGBC.
As the folks at Schinnerer’s pointed out, there is one major change that is fraught with peril for design professionals– the requirement for increased transparency concerning the composition and performance requirements of composition materials.While design firms always had a level of responsibility for ongoing product research, the lack of standardized, affirmative industry data made it difficult for design firms and project owners to assess the impact of building materials on human health.As with many aspects of sustainability in design and construction, the danger to design firms is likely to come from self-inflicted perils. When a firm accepts responsibility to “ensure that a project meets its goals by using the best products that align with project requirements,” it is essentially giving the project owner a guarantee that is both beyond the firm’s control and uninsurable by any insurance carried by a firm.What is an architect or engineer to do? NOT make guarantees. That’s the easiest way to avoid potential problems and lawsuits down the road.Inform your client that any green design guarantees may cause an otherwise covered claim to be denied by your errors & omissions insurance carrier. Show them this post, or the Victor O. Schinnerer (CNA) blog article. Whatever you do, do not make guarantees related to green design.