Firms that provide LEED-based sustainability certification services hold themselves out as having a special expertise. But destroying credibility with a client can be as easy as contracting with the client to have the project reviewed by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). That name has been around since the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) limited its liability for miscertifying projects by establishing the separate GBCI organization. So contracts for professional services used to refer to the certification process as going through the Green Building Certification Institute. Even AIA document B214—the scope of service document that provides a list of LEED-related services—refers to it.
There is no such organization anymore, and contracts should be crafted to reflect that the LEED credentialing subsidiary evaluating a project is the Green Business Certification, Inc. USGBC acquired the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark and provides other services as part of its expanding domain so it changed the name of the organization to which GBCI applies. Correctly referring to LEED certification is important. In fact, it can be critical in contracts. A properly crafted contract is not only a great risk mitigation tool, it is essential if your services are not going to be challenged legally. Don’t sully your reputation or have your expertise questioned by a client (or a client’s attorney) by not understanding how the LEED process now operates.