Here was a nice comment from one of our New Jersey architect clients that we got today, after helping his firm with their architect's professional liability policy:
"Thank you, Michael.
I count with you and with your service as one of the structural columns of my practice.
Yale and I met with representatives from ACE, Ltd. a Bermuda-based insurer that has a strong program for architects and engineers. Their focus is on larger firms, with billings over $5,000,000 per year.
They have undergone a huge amount of change and turnover in the past year, but assure us that those changes were necessary for the long-term viability of their architect and engineer design professional insurance program. One of the representatives came down from Massachusetts and the other from New York, NY, so they obciously really wanted us to hear their message directly.
At that meeting we learned that John O'Neil, who had been at ACE, Ltd. for years, had resigned and now works at Hiscox Insurance. This is another, relatively new, program for architects and engineers in CT, MA, NY, NJ, and RI. Hiscox is a Lloyds of London syndicate, and has been offering insurance coverage through an admitted insurer here in the US for several years. We will be able to offer Hiscox quotes to our clients shortly.
Many amusement parks boast roller coasters rides of dizzying heights. Water parks around the country are filled with enormous splashing free falls and lazy rivers, and quite a few food-related tours dot the east coast. No other destination combines all three and
adds the height of luxury and elegance the way Hershey Park does. Located in Hershey,Pennsylvania, about a 3-hour drive from lower Connecticut, this family-oriented oasis is pristine and sophisticated. It seems no expense has been spared on the landscape architecture and gardens, the décor, the cleanliness, or the staff.
Usually theme park locales sacrifice sophistication for spill-proof polyester fabrics, nylon carpet, and coarse wood furnishings. The décor at Hershey is primarily the result of design firm C2 Limited (www.c2limited.com) right from the local town of Fairfield. Designers Craig Smith and Christina Romann, who have carved a niche in resort design, have once again worked their magic as they did at the Turks and Caicos and Greenbrier Sporting Clubs. They provided their "signature style of classic design for the modern lifestyle" in the newly-renovated Cottages at Hershey, the farm-fresh Harvest restaurant, the grand hotel lobby, and the Cocoa Kids Club.
Uniquely, the cottages provide families the ability to rent entire houses with living and dining rooms and multiple bedrooms
together in a private setting. The historical elements here add an endearing charm and Americana tone. Milton S. Hershey's story of rags to riches is every entrepreneur's dream come true.
The park is a testament to his accomplishments as a brand strategist and makes every effort to educate its guests on the life and times of this colorful man. There's a 10-minute mechanical car tour through a chocolate factory and a 3-D film about chocolate with real water and sound effects. You can make your own chocolate candy as a 'factory worker' or buy an enormous 5-pound bar. The trolley tour to downtown Hershey brings you to an air-conditioned museum that holds actual artifacts from the early 1900s. This chocolate world leaves you pampered, amused, and educated like a real life Willie Wonka factory, without all those scary Oompa-Loompas.
I have been doing a good bit of research recently on the claim risks of green design, and thought I would share them with you. At the AIA Connecticut conference I heard some dissatisfaction with the LEED qualification initiative, and some of my thoughts touch on this, but some of the risks are shared by all the green building, sustainable design services.
1) When some owners say LEED-qualified, they are thinking LEED-platinum-it may sound crazy, but not all building owners are conversant with the terms used. They may be expecting a higher-level of LEED qualification than their project will have. Whenever owners get disappointed, you run the risk of claims.
2) When some owners think LEED-qualified, they are thinking they will save big money on energy costs-we know that LEED points can be awarded for many things that do not necessarily save energy (e.g. bamboo floors, native landscaping). I have been told that is possible to design a LEED certified building with only minimal attention to energy at all, but I can't confirm this.
3) When some owners see modeling and projections for energy usage, they think they will save big money on energy costs-aggressive modeling and projections are legitimate under LEED, but unrealistic in real life. Picture the library that counts the BTUs to be contributed by the sun through the south-facing windows. Now picture the students that close the blinds because they can't see their computer screens due to the glare from the sunlight. See the attached photos...
4) Some owners think that a LEED-qualified building will automatically qualify for the Energy Star label granted by the EPA. In a 2008 study, 53% of the 121 new buildings certified through 2006 did not qualify.
Some green design may increase the risk of 'ordinary' claims-A common claim against architects is water penetration. Picture the additional risk of water penetration claims that arise when you include a grass roof on a building.
5) Some architects now believe that the best source of energy savings is to make an airtight envelope and to tightly control the air coming into a building and the air coming out. If there is some air-borne contaminant in the system, you risk a big bodily injury claim. Picture sick-building syndrome or Legionnaire's Disease.
6) New products are coming into the marketplace that are billed as sustainable, eco-friendly, etc. These products are often untested, and you may be relying on the manufacturer's claims. If the product doesn't live up to its billing, the project owners may blame you.
The new AIA document B101 states that the architect shall discuss alternative approaches to the design and construction of the project, including the feasibility of incorporating environmentally responsible design approaches. If the owner later decides that his or her project should have sought LEED certification and that was not suggested by the architect, he or she might have grounds for a claim.
7) The one big claim that has been talked about extensively included a $635,000 item alleging that state-level green building tax incentives were lost when the Certificate of Occupancy was not issued within the required 336 days from the date of the agreement. This matter (Shaw Development vs Southern Builders) was settled out of court so we don't know the final disposition, but it does open up a new possible avenue for claims.