The Best Kept Secret in Green Building – a Conversation with Jerry Yudelson

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I had a conversation with Jerry Yudelson last week, six weeks after he became the President of the Green Building Initiative, the non profit with the rights to distribute Green Globes in the United States.

Jerry is known to many in the green building world. He was a co-founder of the first USGBC chapter and in the room when the Greenbuild convention and expo was conceived. He served on the USGBC national board of directors and he has been a prolific author and speaker about all things green building, including LEED. So, some were surprised when he assumed the helm of the Green Globes organization.

But any shock at Jerry’s new job is resoundingly suppressed when you hear him say that with more than four and a half million commercial buildings in the U.S., we have certified less than one percent of them as green. He describes his job as “not to get you to change from Protestant to Catholic, but rather to convert those with no religion to green building.”

Jerry readily acknowledges that with less than 1,000 Green Globes certified projects in the U.S., that represents less than a five percent market share. He confidently says his goal is to increase certification to more than 10,000 in the next five years.

He suggests that expanded brand acceptance and market share will be led by Green Globes independent onsite assessor model, something that differentiates this rating system from others. Not to mention that that this rating system is better, faster and cheaper.

Jerry sounds cautiously optimistic about both the changes in GSA and DoD policy in recent months to allow government projects to pursue Green Globes, but he points out that now individual agencies must see a benefit. He sees the real benefit being GBI’s standalone software feature providing an assessment of the federal government’s Guiding Principles for new construction, with a report detailing compliance.

Touting his motto, “It is green building for practical people” Jerry sees the larger growth opportunity in the private sector, from retail to healthcare. And while the certification system is weighted heavily towards energy performance (390 of 1,000 possible new construction points), the new version of Green Globes launched in 2013, allows a project the flexibility to select between four paths for demonstrating energy compliance. He doesn’t disagree that some will be drawn to the fact that the cost of pursuing Green Globes is half the cost of LEED, in large measure because there is no need for specialized consultants, but Jerry wants to talk about the value added of Green Globes’ independent assessors who bring their professional judgment when visiting each site.

He does not advocate mandatory green building laws for private building and he sees a benefit of allowing the freedom of the marketplace to control this rapidly changing field, where performance counts.

Jerry makes clear the number one issue in green building today is the value added proposition. Green building must provide value or the whole industry will be out of business in ten years.

And while he has only been on the job since January 6th, it is clear the recent announcements of Whole Foods stores and Fidelity Investor Centers pursuing Green Globes are representative of perceived value he is pursuing in retail.

It is clear that Jerry wants us all to know about “the best kept secret in green building.”

Article by Stuart Kaplow, appearing courtesy Green Building Law Update.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.