green building lawyerThe wave of green litigation has arrived.  This means more third party challenges, mushrooming building interest group litigation, and private litigation with a green tinge. These suits will involve not only knowledge of LEED and green building, but also the energy codes and other ancillary regulations.

by Shari Shapiro, associate with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP. View her blog on legal issues related to Green Building, available at www.greenbuildinglawblog.com.

Recently, the Northland Pines Third Party LEED challenge has exploded, the Washington Building Industry Association sued the State of Washington to enjoin their energy code from taking effect, and a private lawsuit which could potentially turn into green litigation emerged onto the scene. In other words, the wave of green litigation which I first predicted back in 2007 has arrived.

What does this mean?

1. More third party challenges–For every building project, there are naysayers. Some will see the Northland Pines challenge as a mechanism for attacking potential development, either during the development process by threatening a challenge, or after the development is completed by filing one.

2. Building interest group litigation mushrooming–If the BIAW challenge in Washington holds water, building interest groups nationwide will attack green building regulations where the only true path to compliance is through energy efficient HVAC equipment.

3. Private litigation with a green tinge–As people occupy green buildings, typical construction challenges emerge. Expect these to incorporate challenges to the “greenness” of the building.

These suits will be complex, and will involve not only knowledge of LEED and green building, but also the energy codes and other ancillary regulations implicated in these suits. Green building law has arrived. Is your lawyer ready?

© 2010, Shari Shapiro. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Shari Shapiro (3 Articles)

Shari Shapiro is an associate with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP. She is a member of the Environmental Department. Ms. Shapiro is a LEED Accredited Professional. Ms. Shapiro focuses her practice on green building law, which includes sustainable project financing, regulatory drafting, land use approvals, contracts, and conflict resolution. Ms. Shapiro is the Sustainability Coordinator for Obermayer’s Sustainability Initiative. Ms. Shapiro maintains a blog on legal issues related to Green Building, available at www.greenbuildinglawblog.com. Ms. Shapiro is on the Board of Directors of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, and the Legal Advisory Board for the United States Green Building Counsel. Ms. Shapiro was named a 2009 “Lawyer on the Fast Track” by the Legal Intelligencer.