Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

Green Expectations are Key to a Successful Construction Project

Green BuildingI have talked a lot about LEED and sustainable building here at Construction Law Musings. Recently, Constructor Magazine ran an article about “Green Expectations” that caught my eye.

While we (and I include the great guest posts on the subject) have discussed the risks and possible future litigation relating to LEED and sustainable building, the Constructor article discusses the need to set expectations early in a project. While this may seem to be elementary, the definitions of “green” and even LEED are sometimes unclear. Until such basic terms are hashed out, preferably before the contracts are even drafted, the parties to a green construction project (from the owner on down to a supplier) cannot be on the same page. Remember, “green” or “sustainable” is not a specification, just a descriptor with many definitions depending on who you talk to.

Furthermore, roles have to be laid out in detail in a way that balances the responsibility and risk among all of the parties. Edward Gentilcore, Esq. (a fellow member of the AGC Contract Documents Committee) says it well in the Constructor article.

The earlier expectations are defined, the better the balance of contract performance will be.

Combine these early discussions and clarifications of roles (possibly through the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM)) will avoid potential issues such as an owner requirement of a certain LEED certification level from a contractor without a design to support that level of LEED certification from the architect.

Without early setting of expectations and even what seem like the basic definitions of “green” and “sustainable” that evil substance “gray area” can creep into the contracting and building process. It is in this world of “gray area” that construction attorneys and litigators become necessary and where problems breed.

Communication early and throughout the process to define expectations and assure a smooth building process is key to a successful green project. As a contractor or subcontractor, your contract and its language is key to assuring that such communication occurs.

As always, I welcome your comments below. Please subscribe to keep up with this and other Construction Law Musings.

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6 Responses to Green Expectations are Key to a Successful Construction Project

  1. I am certain that given a good team of architects, engineers and constructors and necessary funds to do the job they are trained to do, “LEED” is a moot concept, totally unnecessary in the construction sector. The concept needs to be downplayed and developing legislation stopped.

  2. As with all contracts, definition of terms is essential and all parties involved need to communicate their expectations clearly. Obviously, when specs like LEED and terms like “green” are casually discussed and there is a wide range of interpretation. You’re exactly right in that communication is key.

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