Posts Tagged ‘LEED’

Examples of Things That Can Go Wrong on a Green Building Project

Green Building is all the rage in the United States.   Whether it be a LEED project, or just a promise to the property owner to build or make a building more efficient and sustainable, as 2010 passes onto 2011, those in the construction industry are quite likely to run into projects with at least some green elements.

When bidding, contracting and working on these projects, it’s important to know what might go wrong.   After all, if you have no idea what things can go wrong, you have no way to prepare for them (or charge for the extra risk).

There’s no way to enumerate all of the risks…but here are a few to get you thinking about it:

1)  Vegetative Roofing: In some areas, these so-called “green roofs” are becoming popular.  The most ambitious green roof program is likely found in Portland, which we’ve discussed in a previous post.   Essentially, vegetation is planted on the roof of a building to better insulate it, reduce the heat island effect in the area, and better control water runoff.   The downside?   Well, it’s quite a bit heavier than a standard roof, and the construction and design of the structure should accommodate the extra weight.

2)  Rainwater Runoff:   Plan on channeling rainwater into storing containers to use within the property as waste water?   Be sure to contract with someone with experience, because the control of rainwater is different than the disposing of it through ordinary guttering systems.

3)  Greenwashing: It’s popular to be green, and there’s an absence of real regulation prohibiting businesses from advertising its products and services as “green” – which, really, is undefined.  So, when incorporating a service or product into your technology, make sure you select vendors, products, services and the like that will live up to their marketing.

4)  New, Untested Technologies:   Even the stuff that isn’t fraudulently labeled green may still present problems, as many technologies advertised as green may simply not perform as expected, since the technologies and products are new and haven’t been tested over time.  The lesson?   Keep your vendors on the hook for promises made by their products, and be cautious about relaying promises that are uncertain.

5)  Human Interference: Green buildings and green technologies are not insulated from human intervention.   Especially considering energy performance, the human factor can be great – as humans are the ones that will control energy use (such as using more than the allocated energy amounts), and generally doing things that can affect energy use (covering windows, for example) .

6)  Certification Problems: Rating and certification system (like LEED) are not easy to guarantee.  The certification decision is left to a third party, certification can be taken away, and certification can be challenged.   Don’t be too concerned – many projects work toward a certification and get it.   But know the road ahead.

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Around the Web – September 13, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an “Around The Web” post, and that’s mostly because I have blogs coming out my ears and I go astray on some of each of the blogs’ features.   With that said, I went though some emails and RSS Feeds over the weekend and thought it appropriate to post these links, of which my readers my be interested.

Suburb SkyScrapers in Federal Way?
According to the Seattle Times, the Federal Way city council approved a plan to transform 4 acres of land into skyscrapers with a mix of residential and retail space.    As cities are becoming more dense and populated around the world, it will be interesting to see whether suburbs across the nation and globe start to become mini-cities themselves.

Mobile Devices in Construction & Their Legal Problems
ConstrucTech have published some articles recently about how mobile devices are creeping into the construction workplace, and becoming more useful.   I’m certainly a proponent of this.   However, with everything new comes legal uncertainty, and another article was published this week that discussed some of the legal problems related to mobile devices.

LEED Doesn’t Live Up To The Hype
“You can use as much energy as you want, and report it and keep your plaque.”   That’s the meat to this well-written article criticizing the LEED program.

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Around the Web in Construction Law – April 23, 2010

These past two weeks, there  were some interesting Chinese Drywall posts, a great deal of Green Building issues in the news and a milestone in modern social networking.

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Washington Legislation Wants to Define “Green” Homes

My wife and I were looking for condominiums in the Seattle area a few years ago, and every place we inspected marketed themselves as “green built.”   Being a LEEP AP, I asked a few questions about what the label meant.   Most of the time, it meant nothing.

That’s precisely what a new bill in the Washington legislature is trying to prevent.

The practice of deceptive green marketing has a name.   Wikipedia defines Greenwashing as follows:

Greenwashing (green whitewash) is the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources. It is a deceptive use of green PR or green marketing.

Greenwashing is so serious it has its own Greenwashing Index.

The new bill was introduced just this January 2010 by Senators Becker and Fraser, and requires the state building code council to adopt rules to define “green” home and “energy efficient” home for residential units and residential buildings.   It seeks to prohibit builders and developers from marketing or selling a home as “green” or “energy efficient” unless it meets the specifications.

As currently written, the code must be written by December 2012.  Thus far, the bill has strong support.

Builders and Developers should keep a close eye on this legislation, especially as they begin new projects in the coming years hoping to market the project to green-seeking buyers.

If the bill passes, it will be interesting to see how the definitions are drafted, and whether they will incorporate already existing certification programs, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program (as a recent amendment to the bill suggests).   Follow the bill at Washington Votes here, or stay tuned to the Northwest Green Building Law Blog.

This article was originally posted on Wolfe Law Group’s topic-specific Northwest Green Building Law Blog.

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University of Washington Aims to Make Roads Green

Guardian News ran an article last week about “Greenroads,” opening with these daunting statistics:

With 4m miles of highway, the USA has around 10% of the entire planet’s paved roads – and spends $85bn (£52bn) annually on rolling out tens of thousands more miles. Building and maintaining a single mile of freeway takes as much energy as 200 US homes use in a year, consumes as much raw material as 1,000 households get through in 365 days and generates more waste than 1,200 homes produce annually.


The good folks at the University of Washington have been focused on the greening of roads, and have announced the development of a rating system for road construction.

The “Greenroads Sustainability Performance Metric” works a lot like the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program, awarding credits for approved sustainable practices.     The metric already has a bit of support from states according to the Guardian article and the Greenroads website, which states that Greenroads “already has the support of five US state departments of transport.”  Greenroads is following a few projects as “case studies,” one of which was the I-90 West of George paving project in Washington.

Interesting metric system creating that is worth following, as it may one day change the way states and the federal government pave all their roads.

This article was originally posted on Wolfe Law Group’s topic-specific Northwest Green Building Law Blog.

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