Green construction projects such as wind turbines, LEED certified buildings and a host of other green ventures are becoming more commonplace. According to the Dodge Construction Green Outlook report, created by McGraw-Hill Construction, this trend will continue in the next several years. The report predicts that green home construction and renovation will account for almost 40 percent of the industry in 2016. For green commercial construction, the outlook is even better, and green construction is expected to account for more than half of all commercial construction and renovation projects in 2016. The total market value of green construction is expected to rise from $85 billion in 2012 to as high as $106 billion in 2013. Many federal and state buildings are also being built to certain green certification requirements.
The benefits of green commercial buildings are numerous. Green buildings have lower energy costs, present a good image to consumers and can save resources. However, as new technology emerges, so does the risk for construction defects. Tried-and-true construction methods, while less energy efficient and environmentally friendly, lessen the odds that something will go wrong.
Not all green technology is that unproven. David Cohen, senior director of real estate for Commercial Insurance at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., recently told the Insurance Journal that photovoltaic panels or solar panels have a history of safe and effective construction and that many materials used in green construction projects are the same or very similar to traditional construction materials. In addition, lower levels of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings do not involve anything too exotic.
More complicated and cutting-edge projects such as wind turbines or vegetative roofs have had problems, however. Vegetative roofs can leak and cause internal water damage. Mini wind-turbines can be too heavy for the roof on which it was installed.
There is also a risk that the building will not meet energy standards which were promised at the beginning of the project. A company that is not able to claim tax credits for meeting LEED standards may bring a lawsuit against the developer, general contractor or architect. Similarly, if energy standards are not being met that were promised at the beginning of the project, that is a quantifiable issue that may result in litigation.
Construction defects present problems for all involved. Whether a general contractor, homeowner’s association or other involved party, construction defect litigation requires the help of an experienced law firm to defend the interests of those involved.