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What are the Pitfalls Associated with “Green Construction”?

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What are the Pitfalls Associated with “Green Construction”?

On the Scene E-Newsletter, Edition 137, May 3, 2011

green roof_000000132606smallFrom green roofs to heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC), claims are on the rise within the new construction and re-modeling industries. As the ‘Green Building’ industry is in its infancy, there are no well paved paths to claims resolution and litigation. With expertise in site design, building science and LEED Certification, CED Construction engineers are able to consult and serve as experts in Green claims and litigation.

The U.S. Green Building Council developed an initiative called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED is an internationally known green building certification system providing verification that a building or structure was designed and built using tactics aimed at improving performance across metrics of significance such as: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor quality and stewardship of resources. Typical seeming benefits of green building are energy performance within HVAC, indoor air quality, and building envelope construction.

The usual pitfalls within ‘Green Construction’ are perceived energy efficiencies, implied warranties with associated equipment, and validation of energy savings tax credits. The challenge (and source of many claims/litigation) is that green building designers rarely know the actual or eventual needs of tenants/owners. For example, occupants may contribute to lack of LEED efficiency by leaving windows open with the heat on during the winter time! Another example might be when modifications or maintenance may have been performed on an HVAC system post construction which causes a different efficiency than originally designed. The link between designer and end user is not always present.

A reality is that the consumer protection acts protect consumers more than standard laws protect commercial building owners. Regardless of residential or commercial focus, green building construction defects typically involve installation errors, standard of care, extent of damage determinations and repair & replacement analysis. Green building envelope and performance claims typically focus on water intrusion, window/wall installation and mechanical/electrical/plumbing system installation.

Civil and Mechanical engineering experts understand LEED and implementation of green building science in construction. As forensic engineers, they are utilized to conduct origin and cause investigations. These experts have a trained eye for contributing factors and can be a critical asset in the evaluation of design vs. actual efficiency. Consult CED to find out more about how a construction engineering expert can support your work. To discuss a case, please call us at (800) 780-4221 or via E-mail at

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