There were many compelling sessions at the USGBC Greenbuild conference, but I focused on sessions that discussed policy, local government, and risk transfer.  I would like to start with the session on risk transfer.  But rather than go into what the speakers presented (which only scratched the surface), I thought it would be a good to dig deeper and review and summarize what we have stated previously on the CGBB.

When going for LEED, Greenpoint Rated, or any other certification, make sure to pay close attention to the following areas:

– Scope of work.  Make sure the scope of work is clearly defined.  If you’re going for a specific certification, LEED, GreenPoint Rated, or other, cut and paste the requirements right into the specifications in the contract.  Also, you’re going to need to specify who is responsible for review and inspection of each item, and who is responsible for documentation and preservation.  High-performance buildings require a new level of inspection, and the heightened level of liability for these tasks must be detailed in the contract.  Failure to properly document materials for construction is one of the top reasons buildings fail to get proper certification.

– Incentives and rebates.  Make sure it is clear who is responsible for applying for and securing incentives and rebates for products and efficiencies.

– Standard of care.  The AIA recently issued form contract B214–2007 for architects working on LEED buildings.  That form specifies the standard of care architects should observe when designing a LEED building.  After the AIA contract, there’s not a lot of guidance, so make sure your contract is specific regarding ALL parties on the project.

– Review specifics with your surety.  Make sure your surety is committed to building a green building…not many are convinced of the added value in green buildings.  Sureties will not help you build an independently certified building unless you clearly specify such in the contract.

– Value engineering.  Don’t go through the process of value engineering without reviewing how this might effect your LEED or GreenPoint Rated application.  Know your materials, and make sure there are no substitutions without a clear understanding of the implications.  This goes for projects that use BIM software too.  If the project uses BIM, make sure liability is clearly assigned for any changes that may result in issues, and make sure the liable party is aware of the implications changes may have of third party certifications.

Arguably, the greatest risk to constructing a high-performance building is in the contract documents themselves.  Make sure the documents are precise and reflect exactly what needs to happen.  All parties need to be informed of their responsibilities, AND liabilities.

Stay tuned for more from Greenbuild – future posts will reflect more of actual session content…I promise.