Managing the Insurance Risks of Green Buildings

Green buildings are good for the environment, but they are not without their risks. The risks range from dealing with new technology and expectations that are too high to mold problems and too much moisture.

Experts in the field point to five areas of risk:

  1. Financial, because advanced requirements can add time to the construction.
  2. Standard of care, when LEED certification levels are not reached.
  3. Performance, which opens up contractors to liability issues because energy efficiency warranties are not met.
  4. Consultants and subcontractors, because inexperience can drive up costs.
  5. Regulatory, because new codes are confusing and add to the chance of liability issues.

Innovation and Building Failure

When technology and building methods are new, the kinks haven’t been all worked out. This means green construction is more prone to building failure.

Two areas that architects, contractor,  and clients struggle with is the fact that green buildings usually concentrate on innovative design and the use of locally made products. They also are geared to reducing the use of energy and following best practices for protecting the environment.

This collides with reality at certain points. So much is predicted for green technology and new green materials, that they often don’t meet the high expectations of clients who are shelling out big bucks for a truly environmentally friendly building. The clients expect their investment to reach a certain level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, better known as LEED, but the mechanics of delivering it simply aren’t available. The result is a lawsuit.

Likewise, construction schedules can be delayed and deadlines missed when contractors try to figure out how to deal with the problems presented by new technology.

There are also practical problems, such as a greater chance of long-term moisture damage and mold in new buildings due to new methods and materials.

Insurance for Peace of Mind

Those involved in green construction need adequate levels of liability coverage. Some insurers are offering green reputation insurance to help solve the problem.

If you are a business owner who would like to upgrade your facility to something more eco- and employee- friendly, you need to research what is feasible and what potential problems you can run into.

You can invest in surety as a means of handling the risk if what is built doesn’t you’re your expectation. For peace of mind, you should check with your insurance agent. It is always important to have adequate levels of commercial property insurance.

Until building and energy codes catch up with technology,  and technology catches up with expectations, green construction will present problems for those in the building trades and for clients. Research and education is essential, plus limiting risk with appropriate insurance.