A class-action lawsuit filed in October claims that the
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has engaged in deceptive trade practices,
false advertising and anti-trust in promoting its Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program. The class-action
lawsuit was filed by Henry Gifford of Gifford Fuel Saving Inc. and others
in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
According to court documents, the plaintiff alleges, “USGBC’s LEED rating
system is supplanting building codes in many jurisdictions, undermining
marketplace competition and obscuring other building standards that are
proven—unlike LEED—to reduce energy use and carbon emissions …” The documents
go on to state that “when LEED-accredited professionals design and build
buildings instead of skilled professionals … with years of experience
making safe, comfortable and energy-efficient environments, the marketplace,
consumers and the environment often suffer.”
Gifford has spoken out about the LEED rating system before. In a September
NPR interview, he said, “It’s impossible to go out and buy a building
with a guarantee for how much energy it won’t use. And the LEED system,
by basing everything on energy predictions, continues that.”
Court documents note that, among others, the class-action suit is brought
on behalf of “trades injured by USGBC’s deceptive trade practices because
they lose money and valuable time to comply with LEED specifications and
the buildings they do build do not use 25 percent less energy, or any
less energy, than non-LEED certified properties.”
USGBC representatives could not comment on pending litigation.
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