Last Thursday, during a webinar on green building legal issues, I stated the following:
"I really believe schools will be a hotbed for green defect claims, in terms of energy efficiency, and other green building components. Schools rely on tight budgets. . . . Be careful what you are promising on these green school projects."
On Friday, I read an article titled "Construction Delayed at West School," which led with the following paragraph:
"Construction is at a stand-still at Washington-Nile School, where issues surrounding state-mandated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) elements have placed the new middle school building project over-budget. Now attorneys working for the school are researching the equity of LEED funding for schools in Ohio; the outcome of which could also affect building projects at New Boston and Clay."
I was close.
In Ohio, the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC), administers the state’s Kindergarten through 12th Grade public school construction program and helps school districts fund, plan, design, and build or renovate schools. In a previous post, we highlighted the OSFC’s green buiding requirement for Ohio schools:
"OSFC Resolution 07-124 . . . mandates that all newly constructed or substantially renovated school buildings that are state funded achieve a minimum of Silver certification in the US Green Building Council’s LEED-Schools (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system with emphasis in energy conservation."
As highlighted in the article, the OSFC accepted the Washington-Nile School (tiny red dot in the photo to the left) as a special-needs project. Because of the district’s low wealth base, the OSFC agreed to provide 98 percent of the funding for a new $16 million middle school. The remaining 2 percent (about $320,000) was paid from the school’s General Fund.
By accepting the OSFC funds, the school district is required to build the new Washington-Nile School to LEED Silver certification. But the bids for the school were over-budget despite numerous changes made to the design:
"’We knew a little about LEED. We didn’t know much, so they (the OSFC) educated us and they did a very good job. We bought into that and we designed accordingly. We made sure we had some educational LEED credits,’ Washington-Nile Superintendent Patricia Ciraso said. She explained that while striving to meet these LEED requirements, the school had to give up other features they had hoped to add. By choosing to cut-back on windows, the school had change its lighting system, which means redesigning the entire electrical system — and what they ended up with still was estimated at least $1.2 million over-budget."
On Friday, we will look at allegations by the Washington-Nile school district that the OSFC is not properly funding the necessary LEED-certification costs. You will want to check back, as these allegations include a creative legal challenge to the state’s funding of green schools, which could have broad implications for other state green building programs.
Sensible Interview: OSFC (GBLU)
Live Webinar (GBLU)
Construction Delayed at West School (Portsmouth Daily Times)