Green Building: Design and Construction Contract Issues

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“Green Buildings” feature energy efficient and environmentally friendly elements. Governmental regulation, cost savings and public relations are driving the trend. While architects, engineers, contractors and facilities managers focus on Green Building design, construction, equipment and operation issues, lawyers may wish to consider Green Building issues in the contracts entered into between the owner and the design and construction professionals. This article addresses the special contract issues that may arise in connection with the design and construction of Green Buildings.

A. Introduction

Green Buildings generally refer to those that are designed and constructed in an environmentally friendly manner. Specifically, it refers to buildings that are located and landscaped so as to minimize ecological impact and maximize conservation and biodiversity; building design and construction that is efficient in the use of energy, water and other resources and materials; and building operation that provides a healthy, high quality indoor environment.

The concept of rating or certifying buildings with respect to environmental issues originated in the United Kingdom in 1990 by the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method, which has come to be known collectively as “BREEAM”. BREEAM, or variations of it, are found in many other countries today.

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