Press Release: June 6, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (June 6, 2011) — Construction forensics could help divide the genuine from the bogus when it comes to green and sustainable design, a report from the May 31 issue of The Zweig Letter finds.
“In green design, the combination of unproven materials and methods, coupled with grandiose, unsubstantiated claims of performance, make for an environment full of risk for the sustainable design professional,” says Bruce Bergman, the principal architect with KPA Associates, Inc. who also provides witness testimony and forensic architecture services.
Brian Hill, editor and publisher of AEC Forensics and a forensic technician with KPA, told ZweigWhite’s weekly management publication that testing components and assemblies to the point of failure provides understanding regarding the limitations of those materials. “The old adage ‘measure twice, cut once’ still very much applies to the built environment,” Hill says.
Litigation often establishes standards, but to date there has not been enough green building litigation to set precedent. Of the nationally publicized lawsuits that KPA is aware of, most claims have not been related to building performance.
Forensic consultant Edward Martinet, president of LiMa Solutions, tells TZL, “This is a market that is fraught with ‘experts’ who aren’t really experts. The more I get into it, the more I realize there are still a lot of cowboys out there, who never designed anything, and whose credentials are questionable,” he says.
The big picture reflects that when you’re pushing the innovation envelope, problems are inevitable. Martinet feels the lawsuits related to green design will center on whether the buildings are meeting established performance criteria. “Those will be ‘expert’ battles; it’s really going to be splitting hairs. There will be some black and white, but in green building, there is a big, fat, gray zone… and it will be a long, ugly, expensive fight,” he says. “But we’ll all be a lot smarter in two or three years.”
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