The Green Building Unicorn

I have been working with the D.C. City Council recently on revisions to the D.C. Green Building Act of 2007.  In particular, I have been looking for an enforcement mechanism that can be used to ensure compliance with LEED certification requirements for commercial buildings.  The problem is that the current Green Building Act requires a "performance bond" to guarantee certification.  Green Building Law Update has covered the issued extensively and you can read more about it here
My research has led me to one conclusion:
A security instrument guaranteeing LEED certification is the unicorn of the green building industry. 
First, and most importantly, unicorns are mythical creatures.  A security instrument that guarantees green building certification is also a mythical creature. 
Let me make this clear: no bond or insurance instrument has been created that guarantees green certification.  This type of security instrument does not exist.  I have discussed the issue with sureties, surety industry groups, insurance companies and insurance brokers.  None of them know of a security instrument that guarantees green building certification.
You know what?  Everyone would love to have a unicorn (maybe not, but bear with me).  Similarly, everyone would love for a security instrument to exist that guarantees green building certification.  This instrument could be used in the hundreds of states and localities implementing green building regulations and the innumerable residential and commercial green building contracts being signed nationwide.  Unfortunately, this instrument does not exist and is years away from being developed. 
So if you are drafting a green building regulation, do not include the word "bond," "security" or "insurance" as an enforcement mechanism for a green certification guarantee.  You might as well just include the word "unicorn." 

Photo:  Martyn and Debz

Trackbacks (1) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
Green Building Law Update - April 3, 2009 9:46 AM
If you have been paying attention to Green Building Law Update, you know D.C. has a bit of an issue regarding a green building "performance bond" currently required by law. In short, green building "performance bonds" do not exist. ...
Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Nils Davis - March 11, 2009 12:44 PM

Great post Chris - so true that mandates for things that don't exist are counterproductive :-)

Kirsten Grant - March 11, 2009 1:06 PM


Love how you have pointed out the rarity of these two items occurring in one place (at least for now).

It also points out the potential business opportunities (and jobs) if a "Green Unicorn" ever did materialize or become a viable option.

Thanks for the energy it took to create this unique article.

Kirsten Grant
Career Specialist
Kaplan University

Twitter ID: Kgrantcareers

Christopher G. Hill - March 11, 2009 1:31 PM

Where do I get a Unicorn? I want my Unicorn! No wait, that doesn't exist. As with a lot of this green regulation and green mandates by governmental entities, they have put the cart before the horse (or should I say unicorn?)

Chris Cheatham - March 13, 2009 12:42 PM

Nils - I wonder how many parties out there have tried to find a "green building bond"? Must be frustrating.

Chris - Easily the line of the week. As always, nice work.

Marlene Affeld - April 11, 2009 2:06 PM

Thanks for the great post. I am always heartened when I find posts that focus on environmental awareness. Together we can make a difference.

Post A Comment / Question Use this form to add a comment to this entry.

Remember personal info?