Jerry Yudelson

30 January 2014 – Prominent US green building advocate and author Jerry Yudelson was earlier this month named president of green building rating system The Green Building Initiative, and has wasted no time in saying there is room for more than one building rating system in the market that spawned the green building movement.

In a forthright email statement Mr Yudelson said, “A good, nimble competitor always spurs disruptive innovation and cost reduction in any industry.

“If the vision is truly ‘green buildings for all in one generation’, then one would think there would be applause for market participants such as Green Globes and GBI that provide technically rigorous, consensus-based, but more accessible and less expensive rating and certification systems.”

The comments followed a query from The Fifth Estate that asked if the GBI was a competitor to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system (LEED), of which Mr Yudelson is a Fellow, a perception voiced by some industry observers.

But Mr Yudelson said the US market was big enough for a number of rating systems as existed in other industries.

LEED had “always been aimed at reaching just the innovators and early adopters”, he said.

This was only 25 per cent of the buildings market, particularly in new construction and the reach of LEED was “far less” in the existing buildings market at the present time.

“There is plenty of need and plenty of room in the marketplace for another rating system to address ‘the rest of us’ and to encourage green building and sustainable operations among ‘practical people’ who aren’t willing to go with LEED for a variety of reasons.

“Why is it that we can have dozens if not hundreds of product certifications, but some folks think that there should be only one building certification program, especially in a country as large and diverse as the US and for a government as large and diverse as the federal government, which is, after all, the biggest landlord in the country?”

Part of Mr Yudelson’s role will be to advance the GBI’s Guiding Principles Compliance tool, designed specifically to support compliance by federal agencies with President Obama’s green government requirements, a GBI media statement said soon after the announcement in mid-January.

The GBI said Mr Yudelson’s presidency would help build growth and “leverage its green building assessment tools”.

This includes the Green Globes rating system, which aims to expand its reach to a “larger audience of owners, designers, facility managers and investors”.

Ray Tonjes, chairman of the GBI board and president of Ray Tonjes Builder in Austin, Texas, said, “We’re delighted to have someone of Jerry’s caliber in the green building industry step up to lead the GBI.”

In the same mid-January media statement Mr Yudelson said: “After many years promoting the advancement of green building and market transformation in the building industry, I’m pleased to be asked to lead the GBI at this key time in its development.

“There is a huge audience of building owners, designers and facility managers who are looking for more cost-effective and practical options to applying green building principles to every building.

“The GBI provides tools that are simple to understand, easy to use and cost effective.”

6 replies on “Jerry Yudelson is new president of Green Building Initiative, and comes out swinging”

  1. Jerry has contributed immensely to the Green Building movement in the US and internationally for nearly 2 decades to my knowledge, as a former and long-standing USGBC Board member. I deeply respect his intellect and contributions that are always thoughtful, perceptive and thought-provoking.
    But I have a fundamental concern – from the earliest days of BREEAM (1990) through LEED and GreenStar it was recognised that perhaps THE most important role of a Green building rating system was to establish an unambiguous definition of a Green building – established by consensus of the nations practitioners.

    In my opinion, one of the best ways of stalling progress in the green building movement is to do anything to make the definition of a Green building ambiguous and alternative rating tools do exactly that. The opponents of Green building seem to share this view since these are the most common sponsors of alternative rating systems. I would prefer to see GBI’s activities devoted to improving LEED, or regionally adapting it rather than competing with it.

    As to market penetration for existing buildings – this was always going to take much longer – the market is 100 times as big by number of buildings and perhaps 1000 times as big by numbers of clients/tenants – this will be just as hard for any alternative rating system.

    Nigel Howard, former Director of CSC UK (BREEAM98) and former VP and CTO of USGBC (LEED 2001-2006)

  2. Jerry has contributed immensely to the Green Building movement in the US and internationally for nearly 2 decades to my knowledge, as a former and long-standing USGBC Board member. I deeply respect his intellect and contributions that are always thoughtful, perceptive and thought-provoking.
    But I have a fundamental concern – from the earliest days of BREEAM (1990) through LEED and GreenStar it was recognised that perhaps THE most important role of a Green building rating system was to establish an unambiguous definition of a Green building – established by consensus of the nations practitioners.

    In my opinion, one of the best ways of stalling progress in the green building movement is to do anything to make the definition of a Green building ambiguous and alternative rating tools do exactly that. The opponents of Green building seem to share this view since these are the most common sponsors of alternative rating systems. I would prefer to see GBI’s activities devoted to improving LEED, or regionally adapting it rather than competing with it.

    As to market penetration for existing buildings – this was always going to take much longer – the market is 100 times as big by number of buildings and perhaps 1000 times as big by numbers of clients/tenants – this will be just as hard for any alternative rating system.

    Nigel Howard, former Director of CSC UK (BREEAM98) and former VP and CTO of USGBC (LEED 2001-2006)

  3. Innovation along with the constancy of change to our built and natural environments, promotes a continual need for effective solutions rather than ‘sustainable’ solutions now being presented.

    Mankind embraced innovation and changing environments to move and progress beyond a so called ‘sustainable’ position a while ago.

  4. Innovation along with the constancy of change to our built and natural environments, promotes a continual need for effective solutions rather than ‘sustainable’ solutions now being presented.

    Mankind embraced innovation and changing environments to move and progress beyond a so called ‘sustainable’ position a while ago.

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