Construction defects often take a long time to develop.  Take, for example, the Courthouse Square building in Salem, Oregon, which is used for county offices and retail stores.  It was constructed in 2000 and received its LEED certification in 2002. 

As early as 2002, problems were identified at the project, including cracked grouting and loose tiles.  But it was not until July 2010 that the Courthouse Square buiding had to be vacated due to structural problems

"Henderson said the county started monitoring the floor in 2008 after an evaluation by David Evans and Associatesfound floor deflection, stating that ‘portions of the original structural floor slab design were inadequate with regard to code requirements’. . . .

The county’s original plan was to stay in the building as the firm did tests on the building’s integrity, but that plan changed when the floors got worse.

‘It’s only been in the last short time that the seriousness of these issues have come to light,’ said Henderson. ‘We had an incident on Friday where we believe one of the post tension cables ruptured.’

The cables are located in the building’s concrete floor slabs to provide rigidity. Several cables are in the slabs for redundancy and backup support, so the county at first did not believe one ruptured cable posed an immediate threat.

But after the rupture, further inspection found that 33 to 35 of the building’s 220 columns where bearing a weight that is more than code allows. The county then decided to vacate the building."

Since the evacuation was the result of construction defects, my initial thought was that LEEDigation was unlikely.  But a blog post at Green Building Elements further piqued my interest regarding potential LEEDigation:

"No one knows, or is saying at least, what is causing all the structural issues.  Cracked walls and ceilings are the hallmark of what appears to be a buckling post-tensioned concrete slab.  The concrete was recently tested and found to not meet the specified strength.  Garbage was found in the slab when samples were taken." 

Would any of the following scenarios be grounds for LEED decertification if the original certification was challenged?

  • Installing concrete slabs that include garbage?
  • Failing to meet code requirements?
  • Having a LEED-certified building deemed structurally unsound? 

What do you think? 

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