Class-Action Suit Targets USGBC, Alleges LEED Fraudulent

Nancy Anderson
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Henry Gifford, owner of Gifford Fuel Saving, has filed a class-action lawsuit against the US Green Building Council (USGBC), alleging that their LEED program does not save the energy it purports to, and that they’ve intentionally defrauded homeowners and builders. He’s asked for USD$100 million for the class to make reparations to people he believes have been mislead.

Others aren’t so sure about this. GreenSource’s article on the case cites a number of sources, including lawyers who specialize in environmental litigation, and LEED-certified developers and consultants, who state that the issue isn’t cut and dried: filing as a class action has its own legal implications, and the evidence on which the suit is being filed is circumstantial at best. Gifford hopes to move forward and uncover some intent to defraud based on a possibly false study during the discovery process, as they prepare for trial.

The suit focuses mostly on LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC), but in its totality, LEED-NC addresses a broad range of topics to be considered in the design of new buildings, including health and environmental factors -- not just energy consumption. The GreenSource article also points out the important difference between LEED-NC, and LEED for Existing Buldings (LEED-EB): LEED-NC does not guarantee performance, whereas LEED-EB offers tools to evaluate performance, and makes recommendations to increase it accordingly.

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Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.

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