The Construction Defect Litigation Industry vs. The Green Building Movement

Over at More From Less I posted my thoughts on the construction defect litigation industry versus the “green” building movement. Last night I attended a “GreenMeet” at the USGBC San Diego Chapter’s new office located in DPR’s new building. A week previous, I was at a seminar for professionals in the construction defect community. I noticed some significant differences in terms of the demographics, outlook and economics of the two industries.

Construction defect litigation addresses building performance issues in a retroactive manner. The green building movement takes a proactive approach. Commissioning, verification, auditing – these terms will become more common in construction contracts, building codes and industry standards of practice. The most common and most costly construction defects involving the building envelope and plumbing/mechanical systems, will be detected, scrutinized and evaluated more closely as result. Moreover, if such evaluations are incorporated into construction contracts and industry standards of practice, defects detected during that period will likely be addressed as “punch list” items, rather than through litigation. The net result, I believe, is that resolving construction defects and other building performance issues will be less adversarial moving forward.

Interesting side note: during the GreenMeet, there was a presentation discussing the past, present and future of the green building movement in San Diego. I learned that Pfizer’s campus in La Jolla was the first LEED-certified project in San Diego. DPR was the contractor. I worked on the Pfizer/Fluor team providing project controls for the research and development campus. The bulk of my work during my tenure at Pfizer was spent preparing a report that was sent to Pfizer’s Executive Leadership Team in defense of the project, which was slated to be shut down. I believe that it was some of the energy saving and forward-thinking aspects of the project that convinced the corporate leadership to press on. Ironically, I never recalled any discussion of “LEED” or “green building” during the project. We were just trying to save as much money as possible, so cutting energy usage seemed like a great idea.