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“Greenwashing” sounds like a reference to environmentally friendly laundry products, but when the term is applied to construction or property management operations, it can signal decidedly unfriendly consequences for participants in the building process, such as lawsuits and organized protests.

Joseph Fobert, senior vice president and practice leader for the real estate solutions group of Chartis Insurance in Tampa, Fla., explained that when builders, contractors, real estate owners or managers promise to undertake green-building processes, if finished construction projects fall short of promised levels of greenness, then one or more project participants might face allegations of greenwashing–or green whitewashing.

The promise, he explained, can take any number of forms.

For example, a real estate owner for a business complex may tout the prospect of a certain amount of savings on energy bills.

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