Last week I attended GreenBuild in Chicago, and spoke on a panel with my fellow green law bloggers about the future of green building law and policy. We are planning a joint follow-up post on our predictions with Lloyd Alter at Treehugger which will come out in the next few days. But there were many other highlights of the conference:
1. Launch of the International Green Construction Code Version 2.0— The design and construction community can sometimes seem a bit like high school. In those terms, the AIA would be the cool kids, ASHRAE, ASTM and IES would be the geeks and the USGBC would be the rebels (although they would not be smoking–bad for the air quality). These factions have not been known for the cooperative efforts. However, all of these groups have come together to jointly develop and launch the International Green Construction Code. Moreover, at the press conference the presidents of these organizations pledged to work on training and funding for code officials to make implmentation of the IGCC Version 2.0 was launched at GreenBuild, and can be downloaded here.
2. LEED Volume Program–For entities with large numbers of buildings to certify (think PNC Bank), the USGBC has developed a mechanism for certifying prototypes and streamlining the certification process. Good news for big chains who want to develop their portfolio of green buildings! FAQs with information on how the process works and who is eligible are available here. But there remains a question–how will the USGBC verify that each building complies with LEED? They promise random audits, but that will require a lot of manpower and devotion of resources.
3. LEED Automation–The USGBC announced that it will open LEED online to third party IT vendors, which should make better software for streamlining the LEED submission process. Perhaps this signals the USGBC coming in from behind the school and bringing their lunch to the computer lab.
4. New contract documents–The USGBC is trying to make its certification agreements and other legal documents better and more appropriate to the relationships among the green building team participants. Among the changes is an agency form for the design professional:
we are going to provide an agency form for design team members to use to show an agency relationship between themselves and the project owner. The form allows the project’s owner to appoint the design professional to sign the agreements only as the owner’s representative, thus relieving the design professional and his firm from obligations undertaken by the owner under the agreements. Use of this form removes certain obligations from the project team, such as reporting requirements associated with MPR6, and assigns them on the owners who are better able to ensure compliance with such requirements.
New contract documents are due out by the end of the year.
5. Notable lack of dealmakers–When I attended GreenBuild Boston, I was overwhelmed by the numbers of banks, insurance people, consultants and so forth that had booths on the exhibit floor. This year I saw many more products, and fewer dealmakers. Bank of America was the only financier with any presence at the conference. I was surprised not to see at least PNC which boasts so many LEED outlets. I am concerned that this reflects the ongoing weakness in the construction industry, but a hopeful sign was the 30,000 or so people who attended. Perhaps electing to take a booth was a decision which had to be made when the recovery was still nacent and uncertain.
I would love to hear from my readers who attended. What did you see that left an impression on you?