A bill introduced to the US House of Representatives would give liability protection to architects and engineers who volunteer their services in times of emergency. Except for gross negligence or willful misconduct, when A/E volunteers provide assistance to without expectation of compensation, H.R. 2067 would grant immunity nationwide. This would preempt existing state “Good Samaritan laws.” Thus, if the bill is passed, design professionals won’t have to grapple with state-specific interpretations of the law. In addition, the new bill would cover both individuals as well as their firm. Most state laws currently only cover the individual professional, which leaves the firm at risk for potential claims.
The bill, currently in the House Judiciary Committee, was introduced by Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) currently has bipartisan support, with cosponsors Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). You can track the progress of the bill, and read its full text here.
We’ve written a Management Advisory with suggestions for contractual provisions when providing services in emergency situations, you can read it here.
Modern “green” buildings may have acronyms and descriptions infused with technological phrases, but concerns they address mirror the necessity and technique of early permanent shelters. In an article for the Arizona Daily Star, Tom Beal captures this dichotomy in a side-by-side comparison of an ancient cliff dwelling and a new green building, the Reid Park Zoo Conservation Learning Center in Tucson, Arizona.What is particularly striking when the aspects of both projects are spelled out is how much the buildings mirror each other in basic design. The modern efforts at conservation and sustainability—which include formaldehyde-free plywood, waterless urinals, and insulation made from recycled jeans—also include basic design features that the cliff dwelling. Both are oriented with shade to cool the building in summer, and help heat it in winter. At the new zoo building, rainwater captured on the roof irrigates native plants, just as the cliff dwelling harnessed rain and ground water for its habitants and crops.