When LEED isn't achieved, who's to blame?

For buildings that are projected to earn LEED certification but do not end up with enough credits, engineers could be held financially accountable.


When building owners anticipate tax relief and promise certain sustainable features to tenants, not earning the projected U.S. Green Building Council LEED rating becomes a financial and legal problem, according to a Nashville Post article . The liability involved in beached LEED ambitions is new legal ground, largely because there's yet to be a court judgment on the books to set a precedent. But just because the courts have yet to see such a case doesn't mean the issue isn't brewing.

Design professionals, contractors, and building owners are the most likely targets for breach of contract lawsuits or negligence claims in these situations, according to Jeffrey King, an attorney and LEED AP. For example, if an engineer designs an HVAC system and it's installed properly, yet the system fails to achieve the desired reductions, fault is likely with the design team. However, if on paper the design is flawless, but a problem occurs in the installation, contractors will be targeted.
"Potential suits against design professionals are likely breach of contract or malpractice cases, professional liability cases," King said. "There [are lots] of questions as to whether the existing professional practice liability policies of some of these professionals cover these particular risks."

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