Volume 45, Issue 11 - November 2010

Legal&Legislation

A class-action lawsuit filed in October claims that the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has engaged in deceptive trade practices, false advertising and anti-trust in promoting its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program. The class-action lawsuit was filed by Henry Gifford of Gifford Fuel Saving Inc. and others in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

According to court documents, the plaintiff alleges, “USGBC’s LEED rating system is supplanting building codes in many jurisdictions, undermining marketplace competition and obscuring other building standards that are proven—unlike LEED—to reduce energy use and carbon emissions …” The documents go on to state that “when LEED-accredited professionals design and build buildings instead of skilled professionals … with years of experience making safe, comfortable and energy-efficient environments, the marketplace, consumers and the environment often suffer.”

Gifford has spoken out about the LEED rating system before. In a September NPR interview, he said, “It’s impossible to go out and buy a building with a guarantee for how much energy it won’t use. And the LEED system, by basing everything on energy predictions, continues that.”

Court documents note that, among others, the class-action suit is brought on behalf of “trades injured by USGBC’s deceptive trade practices because they lose money and valuable time to comply with LEED specifications and the buildings they do build do not use 25 percent less energy, or any less energy, than non-LEED certified properties.”
USGBC representatives could not comment on pending litigation.


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