Lesson 3 from GreenBuild 2014: Legal Non-Advice |

Lesson 3 from GreenBuild 2014: Legal Non-AdvicePosted: Nov 2014 Posted by: Mats Inc.


During various sessions, I had conversations with architects and designers who expressed their anxiety about potentially being accountable for science and chemistry for which they were not trained. If manufacturers are making the information available, chemists and scientists are confirming the data and designers are requesting the documentation, then aren’t we all likely to share any potential liability?

Understanding the Legal Landscape of Transparency for Designers was the topic addressed by Russell Perry, Co-Director of Sustainable Design at SmithGroupJJR; Brodie Stephens, California Licensed Attorney, General Counsel & Secretary, Perkins & Will Inc.; and Craig Williams, AIA, Esq., Principal and Chief Legal Officers, HKS Architects, Inc. Without offering specific legal advice, the panel examined the potential liability of material ingredients disclosure. They discussed legal principles such as the Standard of Care, Hazard versus Risk and the Precautionary Principle. Standard of Care is the duty to act science_no-numberas any other similar architect or designer under the same or similar circumstances. It changes over time as new tools and information become available.   Therefore, as firms gather documents and gain knowledge, the Standard of Care will evolve. Hazard versus Risk is the possibility versus the probability that something bad will happen. The cases the panel cited seemed to infer that negligence may be more likely found with something that is a risk over that of a hazard. The Precautionary Principle is a risk management approach that indicates if something has a suspected but unproven risk of causing harm, the proof that it is not harmful becomes the responsibility of those taking an action. Simply stated, “it’s better to be safe than sorry”.

Categories: Architect & Designer News, Trade Shows & Events, Sustainability

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