The U.S. District Court in New York City yesterday dismissed a lawsuit charging the U.S. Green Building Council with false advertising over its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Henry Gifford, an energy efficiency professional, filed the class action suit in October. He alleged that USGBC has falsely claimed that its rating system makes buildings save energy. Gifford has claimed that buildings can receive the highest LEED ratings regardless of how much energy or water they use.
USGBC said the court dismissed the federal false advertising claims “with prejudice,” meaning plaintiffs are barred from filing a new suit based on those claims, and also dismissed the plaintiffs’ false advertising claims made under state law.
The court held that none of the plaintiffs in the action had alleged or could allege any legal interest that would be protected by their lawsuit, the council said.
“This successful outcome is a testament to our process and to our commitment to do what is right,” said president, CEO and founding chair Rick Fedrizzi. “Thousands of people around the world use LEED because it’s a proven tool for achieving our mission of transforming the built environment.
“We’re grateful that the court found in our favor so we can give our full attention to the important work before us,” Fedrizzi added.
But Gifford told Environmental Leader, “I am surprised to see the USGBC say the court found that none of the plaintiffs alleged any legal interest to be protected by our lawsuit, while our case rested on our claim that we are harmed by the USGBC’s false claims that LEED buildings save energy, when in fact they average 29 percent higher energy use.
“Staying in business is surely a legal interest to be protected, so I will be very interested to read the decision.”
He said he didn’t know if he would be able to appeal the case.
“I am very glad I and other people took a stand for the truth. I thank the many people who supported our efforts, and we will continue to discuss what can be done to stop this tragedy, including the possibility of legal action involving plaintiffs the court might view as more direct competitors,” Gifford added, in a statement.