Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Review: Choosing Green: The Homebuyer’s Guide to Good Green Homes

Choosing Green: The Homebuyer’s Guide to Good Green Homes, is written by Jerry Yudelson, 2008, New Society Publishers

Book review by: Sonja Persram, BSc., MBA, LEED®AP
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.

A recent poll[1] found only 4% of adults in the U.S. are aware that buildings are a major GHG emission source in the nation.

This represents an enormous potential for market transformation. What the public doesn’t know about, they don’t want. But, by what means will the industry address this with target markets? And, how can it be done effectively?

Choosing Green is a useful tool to achieve this goal, in my opinion
Jerry Yudelson ably addressed the awareness gap in his book for U.S. and Canadian homebuyers, and I believe it also should be required reading for: realtors, the home building industry – including the financial, investment and insurance services sectors. As well, I think it’s a must-read for influencers and folks in all levels of government – including municipal councillors and staff. And, it’s useful for gifts in our personal goals of market transformation.

As previously with my reviews of Jerry Yudelson’s books, here’s my disclosure: he is a friend, a client, … and my senior editor! And, while I received a review copy several months ago, it was entirely my decision to review this just prior to GreenBuild.

Why this book is a helpful resource

For homebuyers:
Jerry walks the reader through the
issues using everyday language. He describes in detail different valuation systems and tools: HERS, the NAHB National Green Building Program, Energy Star (and Energy Star Canada), LEED for Homes, local programs from utilities, government and non-profits (like EarthCraft House and the American Lung Association Health House Program). He helps optimize home/condo selection by discussing the green rationales and using jargon-free descriptions of measures and benefits (e.g. ‘glass’ not ‘glazing’). He talks about financing and incentives and value using clear examples, and provides checklists to personalize the ‘green choice.’ He addresses ‘blue’ - energy vis-à-vis ‘green’ issues. He includes experiences of folks who’ve gone the green homebuyer route, to make the possibilities real for readers. He presents a host of information on where to find green developments in both countries. And then he talks about what to do after purchase – how to keep one’s home green, how to make it greener. A glossary and resources list rounds out the smorgasbord of provisions. Jerry’s dedication to education is laudable.

But, this is not just a boon for buyers. It’s for developers, realtors, the home building industry, the services sectors, and government representatives and staff. Here’s why:

  • Developers can use it to educate realtors on what’s available, and the competitive advantages of their propert
  • Realtors who are new to the sector can read it … and understand the how and why of green homes and condos. Realty companies will need to educate their professional associates.
  • The home building industry can apply it in presentations and workshops – so different trades can understand how their work fits within a whole-building approach
  • Leaders in real estate services sectors (financing, investment, actuaries, insurance) can use it to enable understanding of how green measures should be adding to home value and lowering risk
  • Government representatives and staff need to be able to understand the criteria, measures and benefits that green homes can bring to society, to more effectively provide incentives and supports to their constituents

The awareness gap means we all have much to do, to bring about market transformation. Choosing Green is a thoroughly readable journey to a green home, and a major step toward enabling this market greening.

It’s another gift from Jerry Yudelson, who leveraged his knowledge into a meaningful tool at a low-unit-price. I recommend we pay this gift forward.

[1] Statistic from a recent poll by Harris Interactive for Autodesk; the full study will be launched at GreenBuild next week.