Are Green Building RFPs More Important Than Contracts?

Last week, Bob Kobet and I took our shiny new green building presentation for a test ride.  Entitled "LEED Orientation Lite," we focused on cost and risk management during the design and construction of a LEED project.  While preparing our presentation, Bob kept driving home one singular point to me:  the Request for Proposal (RFP) process is key to managing a successful LEED project. 

The RFP process? 

As an attorney, I tend to think the contract is the key element to a successful construction project.  Upon further review, I am convinced Bob is on to something.  To successfully manage a LEED project, the owner needs to ensure a clear RFP is drafted.  A clear RFP addresses many of the problems that lead to LEEDigation:

1.  If an owner drafts a clear RFP, the owner and contractor should have a clear understanding of the owner's green building expectations.  Reasonable expectations understood by all the parties makes it more likely that a project will ultimately be successful. 

2.  If an owner drafts a clear RFP, the owner will get more responsive proposals and the owner can more effectively evaluate the merits of each proposal. 

3.  If an owner drafts a clear RFP, the parties can more effectively draft and negotiate a contract outlining the expectations as first discussed in the RFP. 

After our presentation last week, numerous owners confirmed that the RFP process was key to a successful LEED project and that many owners can do a better job on this end.  Bob and I are looking forward to working with owners to improve green building RFPs.  I just might be preventing some of the LEEDigation I have so long predicted. 

How do you ensure a successful green building RFP?

Photo credit:  jaygoldman

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Alan Whitson, RPA - December 6, 2010 12:29 PM

Not only is a clear RFP a key part of a successful project, it's vital to succesfully negotiating a green lease.

One of the advantages of a good RFP process it that it helps all parties clearly define the goals, objectives and constraints associated with the project.

Additionally it helps an owner define thier decisions making process for selecting contractors. As we all know price is a very poor indicator of the quailty of the final outcome.

larry goldman - December 9, 2010 10:06 AM

Clearly defining the general contract objectives through the RFP process is crucial but the RFP cannot take the place of quality plans and specifications. Too many corners have been unnecessarily cut on the A/E side over the last few years because of the lack of budget.The RFP should never be designed to take the place of quality documents.

Stephen Del Percio - December 11, 2010 1:08 PM

I looked at this issue in the context of green lease objectives earlier this year over at GRELJ:

http://www.greenrealestatelaw.com/2010/02/rfp-considerations-for-tenants-considering-certification-under-leed-2009-for-commercial-interiors/

Alan Whitson, RPA - December 13, 2010 12:20 PM

A well drafted RFP is a vital element in the process that leads to production of a quality set of plans and specifications - it will not replace it.

John Albrecht - January 25, 2011 11:40 PM

Has anyone seen the newest green A/E RFP with not just LEED project experience and APs but now including the requirement of experience with prpoject energy/emeissions measurement and metrics development and the firm's participation in AIA 2030 Challenge? I have heard of this but would love to see an example RFP. Thanks, John

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