Establishing and effectively enforcing legal regulations that promote green building requires a great deal of time and effort from all involved. After years of advocating, implementing and responding to environmentally conscious building policies, we know that small changes made now can make a huge impact later on — especially when the initiative is backed by government regulations. For these changes to really be effective, all parties involved must adhere to the laws that promote green building practices. As such, construction professionals in Colorado should be aware of the following legal issues related to green building.
LEED certification expectations
Created by the United States Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — or “LEED” for short — is a set of guidelines used to identify and implement practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Building owners and construction professionals can use the guidelines to gain official LEED certification, which verifies that a building, home or community was designed and built using techniques aimed at achieving high performance in certain areas of human and environmental health. These techniques include:
- sustainable site development
- water savings
- energy efficiency
- materials selection
- indoor environmental quality
On July 15, 2005, then-Gov. Owens signed executive order #D005 05, which adopted LEED for existing buildings and incorporated LEED for the construction practices of all new state buildings in Colorado.
Evolving green building laws in other states
As we’ve seen time and time again, when one major government agency makes a significant change to its construction laws, a ripple effect takes place causing change in other areas. By passing the Green Building Act of 2006 (GBA), the Washington, D.C. Council decided to hold contractors to a higher standard when it comes to green building regulations. The law, which went into effect in January 2012, requires that allnon-residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet in the district be LEED certified. Contractors must prove their intention to meet LEED by filing some sort of financial collateral, such as performance surety bond insurance, which the government can collect if the contractor fails to meet LEED standards. If this law is any indication of things to come, construction professionals across the country can expect a great deal more of accountability when it comes to the environmental classification of their finished structures.
Legal resources regarding green building in Colorado
When it comes to the ever-changing construction policies surrounding green building, you need to stay on top of new developments. As a construction professional, you don’t want to accidentally break a law just because you were either uninformed or misinformed. Failing to meet green building standards in your area — whether accidentally or intentionally — could result in penalties such as fines, license revocation and/or legal action. For more information on green building in Colorado, check out the following resources.
- As the state’s official government department in charge of promoting sustainable economic development, the Colorado Energy Office aims to advance the state’s energy market and industry.
- A non-profit trade organization representing a wide range of green building leaders, the Colorado Green Building Guild works to bridge consumer interests with eco-minded contractors.
- Made up of representatives from each state agency and department, the Colorado Green Government Coordinating Council develops and implements new conservation policies and augments existing ones.
With this knowledge at your disposal, you can make informed decisions when working on new construction projects in your area. Educating yourself on evolving policies can help you develop new building strategies that reduce energy consumption or persuade you to incorporate eco-friendly products that have less harmful impacts on the environment. How you respond to existing and evolving green building policies has a great affect on the future, so take your responsibility seriously.
Today’s post comes from Danielle Rodabaugh, our first guest blogger. Ms. Rodabaugh is the director of educational outreach at SuretyBonds.com, a nationwide surety bond producer that helps contractors fulfill their bonding requirements. Danielle writes to help leading industry professionals better understand the legal aspect of managing successful construction operations, especially those related to emerging green building practices. You can keep up with Danielle on Google+.