Building Energy Performance Litigation

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Does LEED-certification necessarily correlate to building energy savings? That is the crux of a lawsuit filed by Henry Gifford (along with an architect, engineer, and consultant) against the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), currently pending in the Southern District of New York (Case No. 1:10-CV-07747).

If Mr. Gifford can show that LEED over-promised and under-performed in relation to energy savings, do designers, builders, and sellers in the green industry run the risk of liability for engaging in false advertising, deceptive practices, or other similar allegations? While the world waits to see how the Gifford suit unfolds, these same designers, builders, and sellers should evaluate the actual energy use of their properties beyond deferring to building certification labels or ratings. Much remains unknown about the actual economic benefits of green buildings. If the green information gap is not addressed sooner rather than later, more suits like Gifford may follow.

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