U.S. Green Building Council prevails in lawsuit

The U.S. District Court in New York City has dismissed a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Green Building Council that accused it of false advertising in connection to its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

The lawsuit, which sought class action status, was filed by Henry Gifford of Energy Saving Science and several others, who took issue with the LEED’s system because it gives out “energy saving” ratings regardless of how much energy or water buildings use. 

The federal court dismissed the false advertising claims “with prejudice,” meaning that the plaintiffs are barred from filing a new suit based on those claims. The ruling simultaneously dismissed plaintiffs’ state law false advertising claims.

“This successful outcome is a testament to our process and to our commitment to do what is right,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “Thousands of people around the world use LEED because it’s a proven tool for achieving our mission of transforming the built environment. We’re grateful that the court found in our favor so we can give our full attention to the important work before us.”

When contacted by email by Home Channel News, Gifford responded: “I and many other people are disappointed to see that for the immediate future, the building energy use standard for our industry and our country will continue to be a system based on predictions and anonymity with respect to how much energy buildings actually use, while the rest of the world focuses on saving actual measured energy.”

He added: “Nobody knows if it is more important to build with recycled material or locate a building near a train station. LEED claims to measure these unmeasurable things, while settling for estimates of the most important two impacts a building has on the environment: water use and energy use, both of which are measured every month.”

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