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Consultant Guarantees LEED Certification, Or Your Money Back

August 27, 2009

By Emily Bragonier
This article first appeared on greensourcemag.com.

There are no guarantees on the arduous and sometimes unpredictable road to LEED certification—or are there? Atlanta-based consulting firm Energy Ace is now offering what appears to be the first money-back guarantee on certification where the company supervises administration, fundamental commissioning, and energy modeling to meet LEED standards.

Celebrations often ensue when projects achieve LEED certification, but what happens when a project falls short? Although legal action is uncommon, lawsuits are not out of the question. A recent, well-publicized case involved a developer suing his contractor when a Maryland condominium building failed to achieve LEED Silver certification. The case was settled out of court, but the legal message was clear: LEED represents new liability, especially if legal mandates or financial incentives are tied to certification.

Energy Ace establishes its guarantee via three simple steps. The company first sets up a contractual agreement with clients, which is then followed by a series of LEED charrettes focusing on the creation of sustainability measures. Finally, all parties agree on the measures and the certification guarantee is realized.

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Energy Ace tries to reduce the uncertainty of LEED by taking control of the LEED process from beginning to end. There are still plenty of factors outside the control of the firm, however, such as the conduct of subcontractors on the jobsite. Chris Cheatham, LEED AP and a construction law expert, notes that Energy Ace is careful in limiting its risk to elements beyond its control. “Energy Ace has stated it would refund its LEED administration fee if certification is not obtained,” Cheatham notes. “By limiting the money owed if LEED certification is not achieved, Energy Ace is limiting their potential liability and risk.” Energy Ace would not be liable for tax credits lost as a result of a failed LEED certification, for example.

“There is a lot at stake when you commit to constructing with LEED, and it is not an instantaneous certification,” notes Wayne Robertson, president of Energy Ace. “The process can take two to three years. With our guarantee, we’re taking the reins from day one, and leading that charge until the certification is met.”

With 97 LEED projects that are either complete or in progress, Energy Ace has confidence in its ability to bring home a LEED certification and alleviate client risk and anxiety. “We’ve done so many LEED projects and we have such a tremendous success rate,” Robertson adds. “We know Energy Ace is able to provide superior work and service, and are ready to back that claim by guaranteeing our work.”

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