September 10, 2012 Articles

Green Building: Limitations Clock Starts at First Sign of Trouble

When contracting parties first notice defects in green building materials, they must investigate thoroughly and act promptly to preserve their legal claims

by Jeanne Schubert Barnum and Levi Jones

In 1999, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation wanted its new headquarters, the Philip Merrill Environmental Center, to be built in Annapolis, Maryland, from environmentally friendly materials—and it was. Unfortunately, a mistake or lack of understanding regarding one of the components in the construction led to serious problems with the final building and generated a lawsuit that was not resolved until 2012. Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., No. 8:11-cv-00047-AW, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39886 (D. Md. Mar. 23, 2012). While the context of the issues raised is fresh, the events that led to legal action, the claims, and the nature of the suit itself will be familiar to any attorney practicing construction law. Building “green” adds just one more layer of challenges to the many others that must be addressed when a building is under construction, and, at least in this case, it created no new cause of action. Instead it taught an always-valuable lesson that forgetting the basics can cause you to lose a case.

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