Sustainability Certifications are Within Reach with AIA Contract Documents

By AIA Contract Documents

June 28, 2024

Environmental considerations are increasingly central to a growing number of construction projects. In 2023 alone, over 6,000 projects engaged in the LEED certification process, highlighting a significant trend towards sustainable building practices. Today, new construction projects have the opportunity to achieve various certifications that signify adherence to rigorous sustainable design criteria. Notable certifications include LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), and the Living Building Challenge, each representing different benchmarks in sustainability and efficiency.

Achieving these certifications demands meticulous planning, construction, and thorough documentation and compliance phases. Engaging an experienced sustainable project services consultant is crucial for navigating this complex landscape. AIA Contract Documents offers a valuable resource to facilitate these services: AIA C204™ – 2020, Standard Form of Consultant’s Services: Sustainable Project Services.

AIA C204™ – 2020 is a valuable tool for any sustainable project, especially where the project team endeavors to obtain one a sustainable certification. The document addresses the sustainable project services consultant’s scope of services, including various roles and responsibilities at each step of the process. The consultant may be an architect, but this is not a requirement.

The lynchpin of the document is the development of a sustainability plan, which will be developed at a sustainability workshop. The sustainability workshop will ideally take place as soon as practicable but must occur prior to the conclusion of the architect’s schematic design phase services. The workshop can take place as part of a larger meeting, but the owner, consultant, architect, and any of the owner’s or architect’s consultants must be present. Workshop participants will discuss objectives, including any sustainability certification; potential sustainable measures and practices; plans to implement such measures and practices; and the impact of such plans on the schedule, price, and time for the project as a whole.

If the parties do desire a sustainability certification, the contract contemplates that the consultant will manage the application for such certification, as well as the verification process required. This includes registration, completing application documents, collecting required documentation, and submitting it to the relevant authority, and handle any appeals as necessary.

Obtaining a sustainability certification is more than just a shiny plaque on your wall. It demonstrates a commitment to sustainable practices, materials, and environmentally responsible construction. Utilizing a Sustainable Project Services Consultant can ensure compliance with the requirements of the certifying agencies and pave the way toward a greener future.

AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.