In October of 2010 a class action lawsuit was filed against the USGBC, Rick Fedrizzi, David Gottfried, and Rob Watson (all individuals associated with the creation of LEED). The lawsuit, filed by Henry Gifford, owner of “Gifford Fuel Saving”, a energy consultancy company in New York, alleges that the USGBC has harmed building owners, building professionals, taxpayers, consumers, etc. by misrepresenting the energy efficiency of LEED Certified projects. Further allegations revolve around the lack of performance based requirements and no third-party verification of actual performance. While the lawsuit did bring up some valid points about some well known down falls of a Certification that is based on projections, rather than proven results, experts agreed that the class-action suit was likely doomed from the start due to Gifford’s lack of standing since he is not a LEED Accredited Professional, nor does he own any LEED Certified buildings.
Last week, Gifford amended the original lawsuit by dropping Rick Fedrizzi, David Gottfried and Rob Watson from the suit and removing the class action component. Tristan Roberts of BuildingGreen.com indicates in his article “New Plaintiffs Join Amended LEED Lawsuit” that this new version of the lawsuit boils down to essentially a claim of false advertising by USGBC. The amendment to the suit also adds an architect and two engineers as additional plaintiffs to demonstrate the harm to professionals of USGBC’s claims.
This lawsuit still has a way to go before anything is decided or even potentially argued in court. It will certainly be interesting, though, to follow its progress and see what, if any, impact it has on the practices of the USGBC.