Sustainable Construction Comes With Risk
Innovative green building designs and materials are becoming more commonplace. While these advancements should be held in high regard and adopted where it makes sense, there’s also a small caveat attached with regards to insurance and inspection codes. Will this risk diminish outside the box thinking?
Students from Rutgers University and NJIT recently teamed up to challenge the status quo and redefine sustainable building. Dubbed “Team NJ” the group of architecture, planning and engineering students built a very cool and futuristic house that potentially sets the model for what constitutes green housing, according to an article in The Star Ledger. Here’s more from The Star Ledger:
Team NJ’s house — envisioned as a Jersey Shore getaway for a couple — features a modular structure, precast concrete walls and an inverted roof to catch water and sunlight. Solar and thermal technology is integrated into every exposed surface of the house, which produces enough energy to power all of its appliances and keep the place cool during summers and warm during winters.
“People think that you can slap a few panels on a roof and you are doing the right thing,” said Urs Gauchat, dean of the college of architecture and design at NJIT. “As academics, we want to bring more to the energy debate. We want to challenge preconceived notions of how to build in this country.”
Perhaps Team NJ can team up with the folks at CompoClay, a Bay Area company that has created a revolutionary eco-friendly material used to make everything from fireplace mantels to wall panels to pottery. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, CompoClay’s mandate is to “replace harmful materials that contain harsh toxins and chemicals, and products that lead to devastating environmental practices like deforestation and harmful underground mining.” If that isn’t green enough for you, I don’t know what is.
While these recent developments in green construction make the process look easy and very attainable, there are still plenty of challenges for risk managers and insurers to consider, according to Business Insurance.
“In many cases, the risks that we’re seeing for green construction are very similar to other risks that we see for nongreen construction, but there are some unique exposures that are starting to emerge,” said Lori Bailey, Boston-based head of professional liability for Zurich North America Commercial, a unit of Zurich Financial Services Group.
Many of these risks center on higher upfront costs, reliable product specs and builders over-guaranteeing and over-certifying projects.
What do you think? Is green construction being stymied by insurance risks?