Stuart Kaplow

If you are regular reader of this blog you are aware there has been a hiatus in postings. I have been climbing in the Himalayas in Nepal for the past month and, in fact, am composing this blog post sitting in the lobby of the Yak and Yeti hotel in Kathmandu, as I begin to make way home.

Last week the American Institute of Architects released the 2017 edition of the A201 family of contract documents, including updated versions of the AIA’s documents developed for the design-bid-build delivery model.

And while each of the core sets of documents are updated every 10 years, what is most significant about this update is the new AIA Document E204™ – 2017, Sustainable Projects Exhibit.

The new Sustainable Projects Exhibit is a potential game changer that could revitalize the now sluggish if not moribund domestic green building industrial complex, that suffers from the lack of regular involvement of the legal profession, and as I recently wrote the resultant, Less than 20% of Green Building Contracts Properly Drafted.

The use of an exhibit for sustainable projects is new. AIA has previously published Sustainable Project versions of its core documents integrating specific green building text within each contract. The previous version of the design-bid-build contract documents included a Sustainable Project version.

And while this new Sustainable Projects Exhibit is released at this time with the updated design-bid-build contract documents, importantly, it can be used on any project and added to most AIA contracts to address the risks and responsibilities associated with sustainable design and construction services. This is a dramatic and significant evolution in the contracts for green building.

The new Sustainable Projects Exhibit is expressly drafted for use with third party certification on LEED, Green Globes and Energy Star projects, but it can also be easily adapted for use in other green building rating systems from the ICC 700 to ASHRAE 189.1, the IgCC and more.

The new Sustainable Projects Exhibit follows the AIA existing structure of defining a Sustainable Objective. Sustainable Measure, Sustainability Plan, Sustainability Certification, Sustainability Documentation and Certifying Authority. Key is the Sustainability Plan that describes and delineates the responsibilities of each party associated with sustainable design and construction of the project.

Unfortunately many, if not most, green building projects fail to utilize the Sustainable Project documents or other appropriate contracts incorporating provisions necessary and proper for sustainable projects. It is suggested that this new short six page exhibit will be more user friendly and remedy that problem.

The AIA Contract Documents are nearly 200 forms that define the relationships and terms involved in design and construction projects.  Prepared by the AIA with the consensus of owners, contractors, attorneys, architects, engineers, and others, the documents have been finely tuned during their 120 year history. This change, from an integrated sustainable project form to an exhibit, is a dramatic change in course that may result in a wider use of sustainable project contract terms in sustainable projects.

Without overstating its relative importance, the new Sustainable Projects Exhibit is a game changer. This contract form alters the strategy of contracting for a green building and conceives an entirely new business structure defining the business relationships of the parties. The exhibit effects a significant shift in the current manner of thinking about and contracting for green building.

The exhibit is currently available at www.aiacontracts.org/purchase.

We have been working with clients to revise and update their form green building contracts to be consistent with the new Sustainable Projects Exhibit. If we can assist you in bringing your documents current, in an effort to mitigate risk or advantage you in bidding for work, do not hesitate to give me a call.