Next year, the American Institute of Architects plans to release “green” model contract forms designed to help limit legal exposure on sustainable projects. The forms are based on the institute's model agreements between owner and architect and between owner and contractor. They will incorporate concepts from AIA's free Guide for Sustainable Projects, published in the spring.

AIA previewed the forms at the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, which drew 23,000 registrants to Toronto on Oct. 4-7. The objective of the agreements is to “make sure that roles and responsibilities are correctly defined” and to “allocate risk to the best person to handle it,” says Joshua Balance, AIA's associate counsel. However, if a project does not achieve sustainable expectations due to negligence, the contracts “won't absolve parties of liability,” he cautions.

The forms will be available for purchase in the first quarter of 2012 at, says the Washington, D.C.-based AIA.

Also in Toronto, the International Living Future Institute, Portland, Ore., unveiled its Net-Zero-Energy Building Certification program. The program, which ILFI says is the first of its kind, is based on building performance, not modeling. Buildings must be operational for at least 12 consecutive months prior to evaluation, says ILFI. Information is available at

LEED 2012—the next version of the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-building rating system—will have two new credit categories: integrated process and performance. LEED 2012 also will include updates to its materials-and-resources category, which addresses waste reduction. The revision puts a stronger emphasis on life-cycle assessment, says USGBC. Information about LEED 2012 is available at

In other news, the World Green Building Council announced its new chairman: Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the USGBC.