The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has been sued over its highly popular LEED building rating system. The owner of Gifford Fuel Savings, Henry Gifford, has sued the USGBC for US$100 million claiming that the organization has committed fraud, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, and false advertising.
Gifford claims that the LEED system doesn’t save energy the way that USGBC claims it does. The result is that consumers have spent extra money for worthless credentials and that professionals have wasted money getting LEED certified – and the public has been fooled into believing in LEED certification.
Experts are dubious of the suit’s merits, noting that Gifford has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers. But, taxpayers, as a group have not been directly harmed by USGBC’s alleged actions. After all, receiving LEED certification is an entirely voluntary process.
Furthermore, since Gifford is not a LEED certified professional and does not own any LEED certified buildings, it isn’t clear that he has standing to sue the organization. However, Gifford is a proponent of PassiveHouse (also known as PassivHaus), a competing green building system which is popular in Europe.
Gifford seems to believe that PassiveHouse’s system can help buildings achieve energy efficiency more easily and cheaply than the LEED system. He also claims that building professionals will have trouble getting work if they are not LEED certified.
Image credit: Wonderlane via Flickr
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