By: Lane F. Kelman and Christopher Soper
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the "Stimulus Act") the General Services Administration’s ("GSA") Public Building Service was authorized to invest 4.5 billion dollars to transform federal facilities into exemplary, high-performance green buildings. The allocated money is scheduled to be awarded in its entirety within the next two (2) years. A list of proposed projects in all fifty states has already been submitted to Congress. These designated projects are intended to improve energy efficiency, conserve resources over the long-term, provide models of high-performance green design and reduce the government’s reliance on costly operating leases.
While the government’s attempt to transition to high-performance green buildings is a noble goal, it presents federal contractors with a unique set of challenges. Federal contractors interested in these green construction projects should be prepared to deal with factors that were not previously considered when putting together your proposal and project team. These factors are unique to green building and include potentially unfamiliar project specifications, rating systems, new materials and installation techniques. A resource that is readily available to federal contractors interested in performing green building is the Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers.
The Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers (the "Guide") was created to assist federal building project managers to meet the various legal requirements of green construction. The Guide provides sample specification language for federal green construction projects. It is an excellent tool for federal contractors to familiarize themselves with the specifications and performance requirements associated with green building. The Guide can be found at http://www.wbdg.org/design/greenspec.php.
Also keep in mind the new legal concerns that are associated with green building. The ability to recognize and address the risks inherent in a green building construction contract will minimize the potential for disputes and exposure. A checklist of some of the factors that you should review are as follows:
* Identify which party is responsible for documenting and achieving LEED certification.
* Identify the damages associated with failing to obtain the required LEED certification.
* Confirm that the insurance coverage on the project takes into account the green nature of the project.
* Check the warranty and guaranty language to ensure that new green construction procedures or installation materials do not void the warranty or guaranty for a product.
* Investigate the availability of green construction materials and the replacement price for such materials.
* Make sure the construction schedule accounts for time associated with LEED certification.
* This list is in no way exhaustive of the issues that should be addressed or may arise on a green construction project, but does provide an idea of the types of things to consider.
The Stimulus Act will add significant momentum to green building. As green building evolves, it is expected that what is perceived as a trend or niche will become standardized. Those contractors that position themselves now will have a competitive edge in the future.