The Green Subcontractor- One Way Subcontractors Can Reduce Risks on Green Building Projects

Caryn Tijsseling
August 13, 2008 — 1,607 views  

Green building is here to stay and is expected to become increasingly in demand for both commercial and residential building projects.  Green building provides a unique opportunity for the small to mid-sized subcontractor.  In fact, an integrated approach for green design, building and construction will be essential to efficiently building green projects.  Subcontractors and material providers can greatly benefit from the green building trend by understanding certification requirements, becoming familiar with green practices for their particular trade and being familiar with green materials. 

 While the potential for increased business for a green subcontractor is clear, green building is not without risk.  Owner expectations are often heightened in green building.  Often the general contractor or developer has promised a certain level of “green” that may or may not be able to be achieved on a particular project.  The green subcontractor will be expected to live up to the promises of the general contractor or developer.

As always, a clear and well defined contract will be critical to protect the subcontractor from potential risks associated with unfilled promises on such projects.  It is imperative that green subcontractors include clear definitions and performance standards; clear disclosures; and exercise greater caution in bid and contract negotiation.  Of particular importance will be express contract provisions to protect the subcontractor should the general contractor or developer fail to deliver as green a building as initially promised.  A green subcontract should include language that states that ordinary skill and care will be used to achieve the projects green objective; however the subcontractor does not warrant or guarantee that those objectives will be met beyond the subcontractor’s limited scope of work.   

 This is only one of many potential issues that will face the green subcontractor.  With careful attention to contract language and details, there is no reason that the risks inherent to green building should be shared by the subcontractor.

Caryn Tijsseling


Ms. Tijsseling is an associate in the firm's Construction and Commercial Litigation practice groups. She practices primarily in the areas of bankruptcy and commercial and business litigation. Ms. Tijsseling was previously with Beckley Singleton, which partnered with Lewis and Roca in 2007. Prior to joining the firm, she worked for the law firm of Beesley Matteoni, Ltd., where she gained extensive experience in the areas of commercial bankruptcy and business litigation. After graduating from law school, Ms. Tijsseling conducted a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Connie J. Steinheimer of the Second Judicial District Court in Washoe County, Nevada.