NEW YORK — The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED and its founders have been named as defendants in a class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York on charges of “fraudulently misleading the consumer,” misrepresenting the energy performances in LEED-certified buildings and false advertising.

Filed by Henry Gifford, owner of Gifford Fuel Saving Inc., the $100 million suit seeks compensatory damages under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the Lanham Act (unfair competition), for deceptive practices, false advertising and wire fraud. The suit claims, among other items, “USGBC’s monopolization of the market through fraudulent and intentionally misleading representations in the marketing and promotion of their LEED product line, including, but not limited to, false claims that LEED-certified buildings use 25% less energy and achieve CO2 emissions reductions over non-LEED certified properties as well as improved air quality and improved water efficiency.”

Gifford, who is not LEED AP accredited, claims in his suit “the LEED rating system is not based on objective scientific criteria” and also critiques a 2008 study from New Buildings Institute and USGBC that is used to support the LEED energy-savings claims.

In his allegations, Gifford states, “Upon information and belief, the LEED system is harmful to the environment because effective energy saving methods are ignored in favor of the postulated (not actual) energy savings promised by LEED promotional materials."

USGBC has said it is reviewing the litigation and will respond in due course. In addition to the USGBC, founders David Gottfried and Richard Fedrizzi, along with Rob Watson who developed the LEED rating system for USGBC, have been named as defendants in the case.

Read the lawsuit/ccmsdocuments/Woodworking-Network/USGBC Lawsuit.pdf

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