Originally Published 2009
By Gary L. Cole AIA, Esq.
[DISCLAIMER: The following discussion is intended for general informational purposes only and is expressly not offered as legal or architectural advice, nor does it constitute advertising or a solicitation of any kind. And most of all – readers should always seek legal advice about their specific situations only from their attorneys, and architectural advice only from their architects.]
First it was the lawyers. Now, professional liability insurers are dipping their toes in the reclaimed waters of the green building movement.
Argo Insurance Group recently announced its “comprehensive insurance solution for architects & engineers servicing “green” developers and owners.”
Underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, Argo’s intent is to provide architects and engineers with claims coverage for green design’s unique risks, including:
• failure of projects to achieve a required LEED certification;
• failure of projects to meet their specified energy performance criteria; and
• failure of projects to qualify for certain economic incentives related to their green certification.
While some builders’ risk carriers already offer “green” endorsements and the insurance industry in general is actively tracking the green building movement’s rapid growth, professional liability coverage for architects and engineers involved in green design and construction is something new – and welcome.
Some may see the need . . . for tailored professional liability coverage as a sign that the green building movement’s better days have passed. Not so.
Attorneys and insurers are the harbingers of change in the green building movement, not its cause. Just as green building advocates have responded to a call for more humanistic, energy efficient buildings, the legal profession and insurance industry are responding to those changes by providing developers and building owners with ways to mitigate the risk of unfulfilled expectations – thereby making green building a more attractive option – and by providing architects and engineers with protection for failing to observe proper standards of care – all discussed at length in Law/Ark’s Green Goblin series.
In this case, the arrival of attorneys and insurers is an indicator that the green building movement is passing through its early, idealistic years and settling into the business of becoming, well – a business. And while the exuberant energy of idealism may coalesce and propel a movement, unless it successfully transitions into a business – including embracing certain tedious details like risk management – it will not sustain its energy long enough to affect any kind of meaningful change.
© Copyright Gary L. Cole AIA, Esq. 2009