Green Building Trends [Giveaway]


Jerry Yudelson is a machine when it comes to publishing new books on cutting-edge green building topics.  In his latest book, Green Building Trends: Europe, Yudelson tackles a topic that's popping up in the news more and more.  Whether the topic is couched in a discussion of PassivHaus, Swedish prefabrication, or otherwise, it surfaces as a question: Are Europeans more advanced that Americans when it comes to green building design and innovation?

If you're looking for an answer, I suggest grabbing a copy of this book, and I'm not just saying this because Island Press was nice enough to send us a review copy.  We're giving this review copy away to one lucky reader below.*  I suggest grabbing Green Building Trends because it's thorough, and Yudelson spent a year doing the footwork and research to compile case studies, photographs, and illustrations.  It's material you may not find anywhere else …

Here's the straight truth, though.  According to the case studies in the book, European green buildings routinely use 50-90% less energy than comparable certified green projects in the U.S.  And that's a problem in need of a solution.  Here's what you can expect from Green Building Trends:

  • Intro: European Green Buildings in Context
  • Ch. 1: The PassivHaus Concept and European Residential Design
  • Ch. 2: European Design Innovators
  • Ch. 3: European Green Buildings: What do They Know that We Don't?
  • Ch. 4: Green Buildings in the United Kingdom (case studies)
  • Ch. 5: Sustainable Buildings in Germany (case studies)
  • Ch. 6: Green Engineering in Europe
  • Ch. 7: Eco-Towns
  • Ch. 8: Green Building in the Retail Sector
  • Ch. 9: Looking to the Future
  • Ch. 10: The Challenge and Promise of Green Buildings: Lessons from Europe

I've previously read about the 2,000 Watt Society in an article on Samsø in The New Yorker, but in Chapter 9, Yudelson references the concept while making a point about setting stretch goals in absolute terms rather than percentage improvements.  That's what the 2,000 Watt Society does.  It sets an absolute goal to strive for rather than a percentage improvement. 

Without going into too much detail, Yudelson makes some interesting recommendations that industry professionals should all read (for example: we should adopt a labeling system like the EPC/DEC regime in the UK).  This is good reading, so make sure to grab a copy at Amazon:

[+] Green Building Trends: Europe by Jerry Yudelson.
[+] Green Building Consulting by Yudelson Associates.

*If you're interested in winning a copy of this book, drop a comment by midnight MST on Friday, September 18, 2009.  We're giving away one copy.  Say where you're from if you don't know what to say.  By leaving a comment, you agree to the terms and conditions relating to giveaways on Jetson Green.

  • michaeljanzen

    Gotta love a giveaway! Looks like a great book. I hope he’s got some tiny houses in there too :-)

  • Anonymous

    I suspect the core values of Europeans vs. Americans – at least when it comes to advancing technology and respecting the Earth – does put USA at a disadvantage. It is as if we are the dumb country cousin. Maybe not so dumb, but not cultured and refined and forward-thinking. My entire townhome is filled with Scandinavian-designed furniture (mostly from Norway) because it is of smaller scale and almost every piece suits more than one purpose. Granted, I paid a premium and increased carbon emissions by buying furniture from overseas, but there just is not anything made in America that suits my purpose.

    When the Seattle library opened I thought it looked strange (designed by Rem Koolhaus, see and some of the colors odd. But I think if I was around this sort of design more often I would find traditional American design BORING.

  • sonnyvinberg

    I’ve been searching for a complete resource on green buildings, sustainability and ecohaus designs in europe…this is the answer! I’d love a free copy please, being that I am an unemployed architect :)
    Thanks :)
    Sonny Vinberg

  • Michael Portegies-Zwart

    I didn’t see urban harvesting mentioned as a green trend. Also whether or not Europeans are more advanced that Americans when it comes to green buildings, does not matter much in my opinion since there is always room for improvement of both.

  • Elizabeth

    Looks pretty :)

  • Anonymous

    Where’s the chapter on green roofs?

    I’m also finishing a design for a PassivHaus here in the States. I’m ok with trying to catch up with those guys.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like another goodie from Jerry Yudelson.

  • Anonymous

    “stretch goals in absolute terms, rather than percentage improvements”

    Interesting, considering all that glass on the cover building. Sign me up for the giveaway, please.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Preston. I’m definitely interested in the book if I’m lucky enough to get it.

    • Preston

      Cullen, amazingly enough, you’ve won the book! Congrats … I’ll email you separately to get your address. To everyone else, we have two more books on the way early next week. Good luck.

  • Daniel

    Please include me in the running for the Jerry Yudelson book giveaway. I’m especially interested in the topic because I have had the feeling for quite some time that we are falling behind in the green building revolution, and that we have much to learn from Europe especially.

    I’m a designer/builder/contractor in the San Francisco Bay area and a LEED AP.

  • Anonymous

    Americans are clearly behind the curve when it comes to greening our society. We are preoccupied with so many issues: improving healthcare quality and coverage while reducing costs, eliminating deficit spending, National security, an inexperienced Executive branch, an often corrupt and usually divicive beurocracy in the House and Senate with their pork-filled earmarked pet projects, and improving financial securities regulation to name a few beyond concerns for the environment. With so little time to focus on any one of them- waking the sleeping giant of America to realize the many benefits of building sustainable communities is an enormous challenge. The solution to many of our woes rests in embracing energy efficient retrofits and green construction methods as a means to improve the health of our nation and our environment , to raise standards of living, to create jobs which in turn contribute to reducing government spending, and is a means for spreading wealth around our country, and the globe. Please continue to report on new advancements, developments, and trends- Jetson Green is by far the best “green” site with the most useful and up-to-date information for the novice to the most experienced green advocate. Excellent work!

  • Anonymous

    As a practicing architect in SLC,UT I’ve been very interested in comparing our US “standards” to those found in Europe. We really seem to be behind the curve. I’ve looked into the PassivHaus concept and it has really opened my eyes to what our profession should be considering in our designs. I would be very interested in the book.

    • Preston

      Great to hear. You probably already know about the Passive House project in Millcreek then by Brach Design, but I thought I would mention it.

      • Anonymous


        I have been tracking it thanks to your web site link. The first time I heard about it was at last year’s AIA convention. Brach presented the principles of the passive house, and I was really blown away.
        By the way, great job on your blog. It’s such an exciting time right now. Things are changing in our industry so fast that sometimes its hard to keep up with it all. I have found your blog to be about the best resource for what’s happening with the green movement to date. …….And its creator is in Utah, how cool is that?

  • JaysonA

    I’ve spent considerable time in Scandinavia looking at the buildings there and what makes them perform differently. Though it’s sometimes challenging to compare apples to apples, I’m convinced that their buildings are consistently much more efficient than ours. This summer I participated on a study tour to look specifically at Scandinavian hospitals, which we found use 20% to 50% of the energy consumed by a typical US facility. Some of the significant differences we found were 1) emphasis on daylighitng – all occupied rooms are required to have access to daylighting, leading to narrower floorplates and much greater use of internal atriums); 2) operable windows throughout, even in places like surgery units, where we would never find them in the US; 3) heavy reliance on district energy systems, which replace on-site boilers (and, in some cases, chillers); and 4) separation of ventilation functions from heating/cooling functions. Newer hospitals have hydronic (radiator) heating systems, chilled beams for cooling, and low flow ventilation systems controlled primarily by CO levels. Each system can then be optimized to run only when needed, rather than balancing competing requirements. However, perhaps the most important difference is a cultural norm that accepts a comfort zone with wider temperature swings. Even in a modern hospital within these affluent societies, staff in a cooler room was much more likely to don a sweater or put an extra blanket on a patient as a first response rather than cranking up the heat.

  • Anonymous

    I have been interested in sustainable building techniques in America for some time now and I am currently writing my thesis on barriers to building sustainable and green projects in the US. This summer I had an internship with a company, Noveda Technologies (, that does real-time energy monitoring for commercial buildings to help building owners and occupants combat the higher and inefficient energy use found in the United States. The technology is there to build new buildings to much stricter energy standards but there is also a lot we can accomplish, for less money and resources, by using and improving upon what is already in place. I’d love to read what Yudelson has to say about the Building Energy Performance Labeling system and his take on the greening of Europe.

  • Anonymous

    Below is a quote from the blog of Tedd Benson, the owner of the New Hampshire company Bensonwood Homes, that builds quality, green homes on our side of the Atlantic. (I have no connection to the company other than that I would love to live in one of its houses.)
    “Before I…let it sound as if I think the Europeans are inherently better builders than we are, you should know they cheat. They sell their homes to people who care more about the underlying building structure and thermal efficiency than they do about superficial amenities. Obviously, this isn’t fair. Anyone could do good work in that environment. It is much more challenging to try to build high quality buildings in a society that tends to consistently choose short term indulgence over long term performance.”

  • Anonymous

    I am an Australian student studying Sustainable Development and the book looks fantastic. I think we can learn a lot here from other countries.

  • David Williams

    Love your work Preston. Jerry is a great speaker and an inspiration. I believe that there are times absolute metrics are important, but that percentage or incremental goals are easier for people to under stand, especially here at the beginning of thinking about this for many people.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love a copy!

  • xxalinkaxx

    Love this Blog!! Keep up the good work.

  • Kay Schwartz

    Sounds like a great book!

  • Anonymous

    Looks like a great book. As a city planner I am epsecially looking forward to reading the chapter on Eco-towns

  • Alastair Aitchison

    Damn fugly cover but it would look great on my coffee table plus my wife’s birthday is coming up so I can always pretend I got it for her.

  • Anonymous

    That building on the front is enough to sell me

  • derek visser

    yes i want to read this, thanks for your informative pages!
    another vote for urban veggie gardens, i know holland has garden plots in big blocks outside major cities, people even live there in summer cabins!

  • peach

    looks like an awesome, interesting book. i’ve always been interested in green/sustainable design, but have always levitated more toward learning more about clothing, textiles and industrial design (i’m a fashion design student on the side). would definitely love to know more about this- the European context also sounds very interesting.

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