Five Valuable Lessons from New Jerry Yudelson Book
An article in the September issue of Building Design + Construction magazine highlights a new book by well-known green building author Jerry Yudelson and co-author Ulf Meyer. The book profiles 55 high-performance buildings from around the world, including the Johnson Controls Corporate Headquarters in Glendale, Wis. and St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. One of the hardest parts of the project, according to Yudelson, was finding building owners who tracked actual performance and who were willing to share it.
According to Jerry Yudelson’s web site, the key lessons that can be derived from the book are:
In your next building project, you should be able to achieve the same energy and water use as LEED Platinum buildings around the world, because there is nothing magical or geographically specific about good design.
High-performance projects stand out because of the commitment of owners and their Building Teams to achieving "best-in-class" results. The projects Yudelson studied were all LEED Platinum, which means they started with high-performance energy- and water-efficiency goals, along with a full suite of other green building measures.
Most surprisingly, high-performance green design uses about the same energy everywhere in the world, from Northern Europe to the tropics. Typically, once there is a good building envelope and efficient HVAC systems 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.
Great green buildings are just as beautiful, if not more so, than buildings with ordinary energy and water performance. Perhaps it is beauty itself that should be the primary goal in sustainable design. One of the core tenets of the book is that there is no inherent conflict between buildings with architectural merit and those with high-performance green characteristics (such as those with LEED Platinum status) and low-energy outcomes.
A final lesson from the research is that there are no standard definitions of building energy use, 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.