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Green Building A to Z: Understanding the Language of Green Building

By Jerry Yudelson. British Columbia: New Society Publishers, 2007, 240 pages, $18.95.

Reviewed by David Sokol

If you’re late to the sustainability movement, there are any number of primers to help you get your bearings. But you may want to reach for Green Building A to Z first. As its simple title suggests, Jerry Yudelson—founder of an eponymous Tucson-based green building consultancy, and a regular chair of the USGBC’s annual conference Greenbuild—has written a straightforward, easy-to-understand survey of ecologically responsible design. It presumes little background in the subject, other than whatever sparked your interest to grab the book in the first place.

Green Building A to Z: Understanding the Language of Green Building
Image courtesy New Society Publishers
Jerry Yudelson, Green Building A to Z: Understanding the Language of Green Building, 2007
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Call Green Building an editpedia. After short introductory chapters that make the case for green building, outline its history, and propose several steps for living in a more environmentally responsible fashion, the majority of the book comprises encyclopedia-length explanations of sustainable construction’s touchstone terms—in alphabetical order, of course. These are personal choices: In addition to entries devoted to Architecture 2030, integrated design, photovoltaics, and stormwater management, one page is called “Big Picture” and another “Question Authority.” Moreover, the entries’ text reflects the author’s predilections. Although Yudelson’s description of “Green Globes” suggests some disappointment with LEED protocol, and another devoted to “Living Buildings” suggests standards that outpace LEED, his LEED chapter makes no mention of rumblings or alternatives. Selective absences don’t endanger the quality of this book, but they will make the true newcomer to sustainability a little confused.

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