Reinventing Green Building - Review and Appreciation

In my latest book, Reinventing Green Building, I chronicled 25 years in the evolution of green building rating systems. As a number of commenters pointed out, of course, green building design and construction methods have been around for a long time; equally true, however, is that what we know today as "green building" didn't really come into existence until the early 1990s, when the first rating system, BREEAM, codified and weighted various green building design and construction practices. Since then, green building has become a global phenomenon, as shown in the graphic below.

Over the past 25 years, green building has grown from a fringe movement in the US and the UK into a global practice, with dozens of rating systems evaluating thousands of projects each year.

Over the past 25 years, green building has grown from a fringe movement in the US and the UK into a global practice, with dozens of rating systems evaluating thousands of projects each year.

When I wrote this book, my goal was to encourage a conversation in the green building community about "where do we go from here." Judging by the feedback from readers of this blog and the book itself, there is a hunger among practicing architects, engineers, builders and building owners/facility managers for a new way to encourage green building through rating and certification. Because of the high cost and mind-numbing complexity of current certification systems, there has been a movement away from certification by many responsible building owners. Typical is a recent debate at the level of the regents of the University of Iowa about the value of certification vs. just doing the right thing, informed by the provisions of various sustainability rating systems.

I would like you, the readers of this blog, to get a copy of Reinventing Green Building, read it and decide for yourselves the right road to take for a more sustainable future. Many industry leaders (below) have praised the book. I'd like your considered opinion! (While you're doing this, I'm going to take a break from writing this blog for a few weeks for a long-planned vacation trip to four countries in western Europe. Maybe I'll even visit some green buildings while I'm there!)

Here's what leaders in green building practice and academia have said about Reinventing Green Building:

       1.     Robert Cassidy, Executive Editor, Building Design & Construction, Arlington Heights, IL - After single-handedly giving us a whole library of excellent books on green building, Jerry Yudelson has delivered his masterwork. If you’re going to read one book about what the green building movement must do to address climate change, Reinventing Green Building should be your choice.

2.     Alison G. Kwok, PhD, Professor of Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR - Reinventing Green Building offers critical and candid research to illustrate the successes and shortcomings of certification models. He challenges the new professional leaders to re-conceptualize technological solutions to further the revolution that is needed to outpace the direction of the built environment.

3.     Michael Deane, LEED Fellow; Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer, Turner Construction Company, New York, NY - Jerry Yudelson is eminently qualified to write this book.  What he has to say is always interesting, often provocative and worth reading.

4.     Steven A. Straus, PE, CEO, Glumac, Los Angeles, CA - Jerry Yudelson promotes a new approach to sustainability for the 99%. Jerry's strategy is to cut through the bureaucracy and expense of the current rating systems, and to push for simple and profound change.

5.     Jonah Cohen, AIA, Principal, Hacker architects, Portland, OR - If the 1968 publication of the "The Whole Earth Catalogue" was the birth of the environmental movement, then the challenge posed by Jerry Yudelson in this hard-hitting and clear-minded book is the maturing of global sustainability into adulthood. Bravo Jerry!

6.     Bob Shemwell, FAIA, Principal, Overland, San Antonio, TX - With wit and courage, Jerry makes a clear-eyed assessment of the flaws of the current sustainable certification systems and lays out pragmatic and inspirational strategies to help us all achieve a better world.

7.     Alan Scott, FAIA, LEED Fellow, Director, YR&G, Portland, OR - In his latest book, Jerry Yudelson lays out a clear case for why a new approach is needed, and presents a practical, well-researched and intelligent path to unlock this potential and generate the results we all strive for.

8.     Christoph Ingenhoven, Ingenhoven Architects, Düsseldorf, Germany - Sustainable architecture, which today has a high degree of complexity, is not a closed concept but is in a state of continuous development. In his present book, Jerry Yudelson formulates inspiring new ideas on how we have to act to achieve better sustainable results.

9.     Professor Ulf Meyer, Berlin, Germany - This is not the first time that Jerry Yudelson shocks the cozy “greenbuilding scene.” Yudelson does not criticize the current greenbuilding rating systems because he does not feel strongly about them – quite the opposite. This rightfully critical book will help elevate the discussion to a whole new level!

10.  Martin Despang, Professor of Architecture, University of Hawaii at Manoa and Principal, Despang Architekten, Hannover, Germany - Reinventing Green Building is refreshingly bringing green building back to the systematic logic of the symbiosis of science and art as the promising future of ecological design.

11.  Richard J. Mitchell, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Managing Principal, MACKENZIE, Portland, OR - Jerry says: "Owners feel that if you’re smart enough to be hired to design a building and you’re certified as a LEED specialist, you should be smart enough to document their project and give it a final certification. So do I!" I couldn't agree more!

12.  Thomas Auer, Dipl.-Ing., Founding Partner, Transsolar, Stuttgart, Germany - Either the green building movement will become more successful soon or it will be considered a failure in retrospective. In this context Jerry Yudelson’s new book is a great step into this direction; it’s a ‘must read’ for everyone who agrees that the built environment must change radically.

13.  Khee Poh Lam, PhD, Head, Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore - Our fragmented building industry would be well-served by this book which cuts to the chase on challenges confronting the whole business of building delivery and offers an optimistic and pragmatic path.

14.  Nathan Good, FAIA, Principal, Nathan Good Architects, Salem, OR - Reinventing Green Building is unique among the hundreds of books about green building. This book asks questions and postulates opportunities for dramatic changes to green building certifications. The timing of this book could not have been better. We’ve hit the wall.

15.  Christian Klehm, LEED Fellow, President, Energy & Environmental Solutions, Pittsburgh, PA - Once again Jerry has looked around the corner for us and has the direction we are heading, and it isn’t always pretty.  A world “scout” in the truest sense of the word, he sees the hazards ahead and creates the necessary markings for a new trail.

16.  Mark Wilhelm, Corporate Director, Sustainability and Climate Neutrality Initiatives, Ameresco, Inc., Phoenix, AZ - Jerry knows we must transform the building industry to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This book makes a strong case for that transition and provides a vision of next-gen green building.

17.  Lawrence (Larry) Clark, GGP, LEED AP, Principal, Sustainable Performance Solutions, Miami, FL - Finally, a book that doesn’t just tell us how green building ratings are broken, but actually offers real solutions!

18.  Ronald van der Veen, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, NAC Architecture, Seattle, WA - Jerry Yudelson continues to exhibit a great understanding of the pulse of sustainable design in the built environment.  This new contribution will propel the dialog beyond its current entrenchment.  Reinventing Green Buildings will jump-start the industry to look ahead. 

19.  Thomas Spiegelhalter, Professor of Architecture, Florida International University, Miami, FL and Spiegelhalter Architects, Freiburg, Germany - Reinventing Green Building offers critical and straightforward research to demonstrate the accomplishments and deficiencies of certification models.  With his analysis, Yudelson challenges the new professional leaders to re-conceptualize technological solutions.

20.  Brad Miller LEED AP BD+C and EBO+M, GGP, GHG-IQ, CDT, President, Environmental Concepts Company, Inc., Irvine, CA - Jerry’s ideas in this book are spot-on about disrupting the status quo with a sensible building rating system based on a simple-to-comprehend formula of KPIs driven by smart building technology and data analytics.

21.  Paul Shahriari, CEO/Founder,, Atlanta, GA - I agree with Jerry’s thesis that we need to dramatically improve our utilization of technology and innovative workflows to simplify the deployment of sustainable solutions into the built environment.

22.  Beth Holst, former VP Credentialing and Strategic Alliances/Business Partners for Green Building Certification Institute and U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, DC - Through this book Jerry builds a fact-based case on why green building should be the rule rather then the exception, how we can simplify the pathway to get there using new and updated technologies.  Simply put, it is a literary masterpiece!

23.  Hernando Miranda, PE, Principal, Soltierra, Inc., Dana Point, CA - Jerry Yudelson, a true champion of sustainability, proposes to expand green building certification to 25-percent—far above the one-percent achieved by LEED—using an approach that we should adopt immediately.

24.  Jiri Skopek, Managing Director, Sustainability, Jones Lang LaSalle, Chicago, IL - Green certifications have arguably fallen short of their promise to transform the real estate industry. Casting a fresh eye on the green building movement, he proposes a smart, simple and sustainable approach to steer us back on course quickly and cost effectively.

25.  Kelsey Mullen, former director, LEED for Homes Multifamily Program, Carlsbad, CA - By highlighting issues and identifying solutions, this book will accelerate the conversation to help increase adoption of green building strategies.  

26.  Dagmar Hotze, Sustainability Video-journalist, Hamburg, Germany - Bringing together the importance of green buildings and the technological challenge with the Internet of Things and big data analytics, Jerry is way ahead of his time. The book is vital to press the reset button and start rethinking of how sustainability can be really integrated into the real estate business.

27.  Drew Shula, LEED AP BD+C, ID+C, GGP, Principal, Verdical Group, Pasadena, CA - Jerry Yudelson is the definition of a game changer. In Reinventing Green Building, Yudelson focuses his disruptive thinking on a green building market that is thirsty for continued growth.

28.  Marija Golubovic, LEED AP, USGBC faculty, Founder and Principal, Energo Energy Efficiency Engineering, Milan, Italy & Belgrade, Serbia - This book gives an objective, analytic view and constructive critique on how good we were up to now in our market transformation, but at the same time provides a useful orienteering tool for the green community on how to proceed. Jerry has so much to tell. Thanks again for pushing us forward!

29.  Martin Bismark, Geschäftsführer/General Manager, Sauter Building Controls International, Freiburg, Germany - Jerry not only outlines issues and failures after 15 years’ experience with Green Building, but also seeds new ideas to increase our efforts to meet the common aims of "The 2030 Challenge.”

30.  Deborah Noller, CEO and Founder, Switch Automation, Inc., San Francisco, CA and Sydney, Australia - Buildings are one of the last big industries that have been essentially unaffected by technology. If our industry is going to really move the needle, then we have to take a dramatically different approach to buildings--all buildings not just our shiny, masthead examples.

31.  David A. Schaller, US Environmental Protection Agency, Sustainability Coordinator (retired), Author of Sustainable Practices blog, Tucson, AZ - In Reinventing Green Building, Yudelson breaks through the stasis that has kept the green building movement trapped in 20th-century approaches far too long. Yudelson matter-of-factly charts a course that is exciting, hopeful and long past due, showing us why the glory days of green building are yet to come.

32.  Sue Sylvester, LEED AP BD+C, Co-Founder, USGBC Arizona Chapter, Phoenix, AZ - Jerry Yudelson is a disruptive innovator in the race to Carbon Neutrality.   This call to action is a must-read and a must-implement.

       33.  John McIsaac, Communications Strategist, McIsaac Communications, Portland, OR - This is compelling reading for anybody who truly wants to ‘walk the walk’ with regard to reducing carbon emissions in the built environment and furthering the mission of sustainable design on a larger, more meaningful scale.

      34. Lisa Barnard, Sustainable Construction Consultant, Fortune 100 manufacturer - In Reinventing Green Building, Jerry offers up a much needed and long overdue conversation about alternative, pragmatic green building approaches that leverage leading edge technologies to drive a laser focus on impacting carbon, waste and water reduction.

      35. Devin Saylor, former Director of Sustainability, Skanska Commercial Development Europe - Once again, Jerry Yudelson breaks new ground with his brilliantly researched findings and thought provoking insights in Reinventing Green Building.  This book is exactly what the commercial real estate and building industry needs to reignite sustainability and move beyond greening just Class A office buildings.