Wednesday, June 11, 2014


The opportunity to do our part for environmental sustainability as well as serve as a positive example for the country and the world has never been greater than it is now. New Orleans and the state of Louisiana are poised to serve as a model for green living. Recognizing this reality, citizens and government have begun to focus attention on environmentally responsible methods of redesign and reconstruction after the destruction of hurricane Katrina. These new methods of building aim to reduce the negative effects of buildings on the environment and to preserve natural resources for future generations. The stage is set for a better and greener Louisiana.

Over the next three years Louisiana is expected to receive approximately $122.3 million in federal economic recovery funds for the improvement of energy efficient homes, government buildings, and public transportation. New Orleans Times Picayune, March 17, 2009. President Obama has designated New Orleans as the United States Blueprint for green construction and environmental protection. The Washington Times, March 9, 2009.

Armed with the knowledge that buildings and structures in the United States account for approximately 39 percent of total energy used and 68 percent to electrical consumption, new statutes and initiatives enacted by federal and state lawmakers have served to encourage and support efforts to build “green”. Green building practices aim to reduce the environmental impact of buildings. The federal government established green building guidelines in 1998 through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and enacted tax incentives for green building in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Several states, including Louisiana, have passed legislation to promote green building by offering tax incentives to builders who follow green building methods.

With laws comes litigation...

It is inevitable that with the enactment of more new laws governing green building and setting legal standards, requirements and responsibilities there with be increased legal action.

Green building has spawned a new cottage industry of “green lawyers”, or lawyers who possess special expertise in the area of construction law as it pertains to sustainable building and construction or experts in “green law”. Most litigation to date arises from legal issues surrounding, design or construction compliance. As new laws are enacted to address

environmental concerns there will be legal disputes related to green building issues such as design, construction and maintenance failures in the areas of environmental building standards and requirements.

This country’s shift toward creating a sustainable environment through the preservation of natural resources will face many challenges. Primary among them will be the regulation and monitoring of activities governed by new legislation and resolution of disputes between effected parties.

The most effective tools against litigation is information...

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created a voluntary national standard for sustainable buildings. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification was introduced in 2000. The intent of LEED was to develop a national guide of measurable standards to encourage and promote green building practices which maximize the efficient use of resources and reduce negative impacts on the environment. The LEED system focuses on energy efficiency, environmentally conscience construction and indoor air quality. The LEED rating is based on a point system ranging from 26 to 52. The more points a building receives the more environmentally friendly it is considered to be. Recognized nationally, LEED is the yardstick for green building.

Established in 2006, the Louisiana chapter of the USGBC was formed to encourage, facilitate and support sustainable green building practices with our state. The Louisiana Chapter of the USGBC conducts regular workshops and provides written materials in order to enhance and improve general knowledge about how to build the most safe and environmentally friendly construction. USGBC Louisiana chapter also provides information for individuals to complete testing for certification as a LEEP-AP or Accredited Professional.

Below are 5 helpful tips to consider when deciding to build green:


Gather all information possible. When seeking out professionals and communicating your desires, it is best to be well studied and prepared to discuss as much as possible about your desires, concerns and expectations. Prior preparation leads to the ability to ask educated and relevant questions.

Identify (or become) a LEED-AP. This accreditation allows for the reasonable expectation that all standards and practices will be applied for successful LEED certification. 


Secure all adequate insurance coverage, including professional liability insurance 
for design professionals that takes into consideration green building. 

Have all initial terms and agreements reduced to writing. This will avoid future 
conflict as well as provide a framework for any legal disputes. 


Maintain and create open line of communication with and between designers, contractors and builders. There are a myriad of issues that arise during a green building project which must be addressed. Future disputes can be discussed and resolved amicably when are parties are in communication. 

Following this advice will not guarantee a smooth, painless or conflict free green building process, but with the right information you may avoid the litigation and find your way to you own slice of “green” heaven.


Green Construction, Initiatives and Legal Issues Surrounding the Trend ABA Journal, Vol. 17 No. 2 December 2007.

Being Green and the Law, Joel Zand, 

New Orleans Times Picayune, March 17, 2009

The Washington Times, March 9, 2009

The content and foregoing material, written and digitally provided is strictly for informational purposes only. The author has used best efforts/practices in preparing this information and makes no warranties. If you wish to apply the information and ideas contained herein, always seek advice of a competent professional in your area (business, legal, tax. Accounting, etc).

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