Environmental Observer
The Associated General Contractors of America | Quality People. Quality Projects.
www.agc.orgNovember 30, 2011 / Issue No. 10
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On the Inside
Editor's Note
AGC Delivers on Environmental Reform
EPA Briefs AGC on Plans to Revamp CWA Jurisdiction, Solicits Input
AGC Offers Education Series on How to Meet National Oil Spill Planning Deadline
Senators Introduce Amendment to Block Federal Land and Water Grab
AGC Responds to EPA on Consideration of Beneficial Use Data in Fly Ash Disposal Rule
AGC and AIA Issue Executive Summary of Sustainability and Risk Summit
News & Events
2012 AGC’s Contractors Environmental Conference; Call for Presentations
AGC and AIA Issue Executive Summary of Sustainability and Risk Summit

AGC of America and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) have just released an executive summary of the industry summit on sustainability and risk the organizations jointly held earlier this year.  Initiated from a discussion by the AIA-AGC Joint Committee, the summit brought together representatives from various industry stakeholder groups to explore the rapidly shifting legal landscape in the building industry.  Key themes for the day were collaboration, education, practice transformation, accountability and metrics.  The executive summary is available here.

As previously reported, the April 25, 2011 summit was organized around presentations to provide an overview of sustainable building trends, green building costs and litigation; as well as panel discussions to ascertain the major questions and concerns of professional liability insurers and sureties and the future impacts of green codes, standards and rating systems on the building industries.  A list of presenters and panel participants can be found in the executive summary

Some of the key points raised by the presenters and participants include—

  • As the green building market continues to grow and become part of mainstream practice, three main categories of legal cases are starting to emerge: materials and techniques, regulatory compliance and those related to certification under rating systems.  Many of these disputes are being resolved out of court; therefore it is difficult to gauge the full extent of these cases.
  • Additional risks include: Ever evolving technology that introduces new, untested materials and methods.  Tying a projected or anticipated level of building or systems performance to design (and construction) without understanding or accounting for the impacts that operations and maintenance and tenant behavior have on the building’s ultimate performance.  The question remains to be answered whether industry is ready for outcome-based codes.  “Is the science really tested enough to prescribe outcomes?”
  • Sureties are beginning to understand green requirements and are addressing associated risks in a manner consistent with how surety bonds have been typically underwritten.  The surety should contemplate: “What are the additional risks, who is responsible for those additional risks and how are those risks being addressed?”
  • New model and “home-grown” green codes will change the future landscape of green and introduce new challenges.  Of pressing concern as codes are adopted and enforced is the education of code officials.  In addition, whereas many design, engineering and construction professionals are familiar with the voluntary green building rating systems, two challenges will likely surface as green codes become standard.  First, implementation and adoption of codes likely will be sporadic and variable across the country; therefore, firms that work in multiple areas will need to learn the differing “versions” of the codes as adopted.  Secondly, mandatory green requirements will impact a broader segment of building professionals that were not early adopters of green or part of the early majority. 

Additional issues discussed related to changes to the standard of care, compensation, owner education and the impact of executive orders and federal mandates.  The executive summary is available here.

For more information on green construction, contact Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or tomainom@agc.org. Return to Top

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