Green Contractors: Understanding LEED Certifications

        Liability Exposures for Green Contractors


As a contractor, you need to understand LEED certification, which measures performance in six areas:

     • Sustainable Sites

     • Water Efficiency

     • Energy and Atmosphere

     • Materials and Resources

     • Indoor Environmental Quality

     • Innovation and Design Process

Rating systems differ depending on the type of building and whether the construction is new or an addition to an existing structure. Each rating system includes its own prerequisites and assigns points to the six performance areas. Buildings that achieve a certain number of points may attain certified, silver, gold or platinum LEED status.

The interesting thing to note about LEED ratings is that contractors and builders have a large amount of latitude on how they reach the certification. LEED does not specify what kinds of technologies or green components must be used to reach each level, and aside from the established prerequisites, points need not be attained in certain combinations. That means two buildings with identical point totals and LEED status may use completely different strategies, techniques and technologies to attain unique green results. One may excel in innovation and the other may focus on sustainability, but they both could ultimately achieve the same status.

Green building is a growing trend, as businesses want to do their part to help the environment while lowering energy costs at the same time. Plus, green building is becoming increasingly more difficult to avoid because federal, state and municipal governments are starting to mandate it for new residential and commercial construction.

Jumping into the green movement might seem like a lucrative and logical step for your business to take. Before you go green, educate yourself to avoid costly lawsuits and common liability exposures for those engaging in green construction.