Understanding and mitigating the legal risks unique to green construction projects

Green building practices pose unique legal issues, risks and challenges for unsuspecting roofing contractors. Although many have argued such risks are nothing more than "old wine in a new bottle," the platform for designing and constructing projects that promote environmental sustainability while reducing negative effects caused by the built environment has changed and undoubtedly will foster new challenges for those involved with such projects.

The system by which many green projects are being constructed and evaluated for environmental sustainability is the relatively new but ever-expanding consensus-based and nationally recognized LEED® Green Building Rating System,™ which is funded, developed and maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and administered by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

USGBC created the LEED Green Building Rating System as a means to define and measure a building's "greenness." The LEED system fosters and encourages an integrated whole-building approach to environmental sustainability by identifying and rewarding performance in five key areas relative to designing, constructing and maintaining a building: sustainable site development; water use and savings; energy consumption and savings; materials and resources selection, reuse and disposal; and indoor environmental air quality.

As of April, there were almost 4,500 LEED-certified projects worldwide located in all 50 states and 36 countries. Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean, Va., has estimated that $12.5 billion in LEED-certification-related spending will occur during the next five years. During this same period, energy savings directly attributable to LEED certification are estimated to be $4.8 billion.