Jerry Yudelson speaking
Jerry Yudelson says there is nothing magical or geographically specific about good design.
TUCSON, Ariz. — What makes certain buildings around the globe our best teacher for how to create high performance green buildings? What lessons can we take away from the world's greenest buildings? Green building consultant Jerry Yudelson believes he knows the answers.

Yudelson, with co-author Ulf Meyer, published the book, The World’s Greenest Buildings: Promise vs. Performance in Sustainable Design, earlier this year. Yudelson offers five key lessons that can be learned from the book.

1. You should be able to achieve the same energy and water savings as any Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum building around the world, because there is nothing magical or geographically specific about good design.

2. A high-performance building stands out due to the commitment of the owner and building team to achieve “best-in-class” results. Yudelson noted that the projects he studied were all LEED Platinum, which means they started with high-performance energy-efficiency and water-conservation goals, along with other green building measures.

3. High-performance design uses about the same energy everywhere in the world, said Yudelson, from Northern Europe to the tropics. Typically, once a good building envelope and efficient HVAC system have been put in place, half the remaining energy use comes from plug and process loads, along with lighting, which tend to be geographically similar in most office buildings, leaving about 15-20 percent for heating and cooling loads to account for regional differences.

4. Yudelson said the best green buildings are just as beautiful as buildings with ordinary energy and water performance. One of the core tenets of the book, he stated, is that there is no inherent conflict between buildings with great architectural value and those with high-performance green characteristics.

5. Finally, the research indicated that there are no standard definitions of building energy use, and no good ways to “tease out” core energy use from special operations such as onsite data centers. In fact, in Australia, the authors were surprised to find that building energy use is typically reported only for the base building, leaving out tenant loads in commercial offices, a practice that dramatically understates actual energy use and one for which the book was able to account.

Jerry Yudelson, a LEED Fellow, is the founder of Yudelson Associates and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading green building and sustainability consultants. He is the author of 13 green building books. For more information, visit

Publication date: 12/23/2013