Yudelson challenges San Antonio groups to welcome ‘New Green Era’

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — Jerry Yudelson, a green building consultant and author of 10 green building books, including “Green Building Trends: Europe” and “Greening Existing Buildings,” told the Central Texas Green Building Council and the Leadership San Antonio that European examples hold promise for adoption in diverse environments, when he presented his ideas about sustainable principles and actions here, Sept. 2, 2009.

Yudelson, said there is a new way forward for U.S. cities as they struggle with the consequences of a serious and long-lasting recession.

“The focus should be on adopting the European approach of 'Quadruple Zero Sustainability' — zero-net energy use, zero-net carbon emissions, zero-net water use and zero-net waste generation — for sustainable building to firmly take root in our culture,” said Yudelson. “This is second nature to many European architects and engineers, but we're still struggling with it here in the U.S. because it takes away all our excuses for poor building performance. Zero is zero, and there's no way to weasel out of it. The ‘New Era of Green’ requires a much stronger commitment to sustainable practices.”

Yudelson pointed out that Europeans would not think of designing buildings without day-lighting and low energy use, issues that directly run against the conventional American understanding of real estate economics. He showed that these assumptions are shortsighted and presented clear evidence that high-level green outcomes add significant value to buildings. He also challenged architects and engineers to do a better job of advocating for green building with their clients.

“You are doing your clients a disservice by letting them build projects without LEED certification,” Yudelson said. “It almost amounts to dereliction of your duty as professionals.”

When speaking to Leadership San Antonio's 34th annual class, Yudelson discussed how to plan for 25 years into the future using sustainable principles, the theme of the group's event this year. Leadership San Antonio, a jointly sponsored program of The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, trains 50 new and existing leaders to better serve the local community every year.

Citing examples of other 25-year periods, beginning in 1929 and 1979, Yudelson pointed out that while the future is inherently unknowable, certain principles serve best to guide planning and economic affairs. In earlier eras, it was innovative free enterprise coupled with a strong governmental oversight. In this case, he said that sustainability is going to be the driving force for the next 25 years in every part of the U.S.

“We cannot escape the inevitable consequences of widespread climate change brought on by global warming,” Yudelson said, “but we can use sustainable principles to prepare our urban systems to assure prosperity even in the event of almost certain disruptive changes.”

Yudelson told the San Antonio leaders that sustainable principles represent the best integration we have of the Triple Bottom Line — economic, social and environmental well being — and that they should be doing more, both in public and private sector activities, to promote education and action in sustainability.

Yudelson Associates is a sustainability planning and green building consulting firm. The founder, Jerry Yudelson, is an author and research scholar for retail real estate sustainability for the International Council of Shopping Centers, a 70,000-member trade organization. He is a frequent green building speaker at industry and professional conferences and chairs the industry's largest annual show, the U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild Intl. Conference.