The newest version of the LEED ratings system, LEED v4, was released last week. There is one major change for design professionals to consider should they attempt to design a project to meet a specific LEED standard. The change involves the increased transparency required in the composition of materials. Manufacturers are now forced to make their products meet complex and demanding new transparency and performance requirements. While design firms always had a level of responsibility for ongoing product research, the lack of standardized, affirmative industry data made it difficult for design firms and project owners to assess the impact of building materials on human health.
As with many aspects of sustainability in design and construction, the danger to design firms is likely to come from self-inflicted perils. When a firm accepts responsibility to “ensure that a project meets its goals by using the best products that align with project requirements,” it is essentially giving the project owner a guarantee that is both beyond the firm’s control and uninsurable by any insurance carried by a firm. As we’ve discussed time and time again, guarantees are something to be avoided by design and construction firms.
We will be posting a more extensive risk management analysis of the potential risks that could arise from the newest version of LEED. Look for it in our Management Advisory library
(access will be restricted to current policyholders and brokers).