Getting Green Done -- Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution
Author: Auden Schendler
Length: 291 pages
What The Book Is Not: This book is not a feel good read nor is it a step-by-step "how to manual".
He relates anecdotal experiences with trying to make sustainable change. In the retelling of those experiences he encourages his readers to take the bold steps needed to really begin to make the magnitude of change necessary to actually effect the global climate.
I found Mr. Schendler's position clearly and concisely stated. His premise is not earth shattering; many of you reading this review and those who will read the book have had similar experiences and thoughts to Schendler. Sustainability, is hard and undertaking it is daunting. What sets Getting Green Done apart is that the author makes it clear throughout the book that the necessary solutions aren't easy.
List of Chapters
~Trench Warfare, Not Surgery~
~ Climate Change and the Fierce Urgency of Now~
~Aspen: A Canary in the Coal Mine and a Shining City on a Hill~
~Finding Your Biggest Lever~
~Sustainable Sustainability: Creating Lasting Change~
~Green Energy: The Key to Solving Climate Change (and Sometimes a Scam)~
~Green Buildings: Simple, Elegant and Crucial~
~Shameless Self-Promotion and Why It Matters~
~Afterword: The Proximity of a Sustainable World~
Schendler acknowledges that facing the truth about climate change is difficult and unwelcome. He points out that in trying to find solutions there will be failures along the way. However, rather than hide those failures or be intimidated by them he encourages the reader to share them. We all can learn from our mistakes and those of others. He asks us to acknowledge that there will be financial impacts from environmental stewardship. Not all "green investment" can have the type of ROI ratios that other capital investments have. From an operations perspective "green project" must compete with everything else the business needs or wants to invest in. Anyone who has, like I and Schendler have, been in a position of trying to move a reluctant or uninformed organization toward embracing environmental stewardship will find connection in this book.
I found the idea that there can be positives to greenwashing unusual. Under the heading Greenwashing Is Good For The Environment (...If You Get Caught) Schendler makes the case that along with the more obvious negatives, there can be benefits to greenwashing. One such benefit he points to is that all environmental stewardship efforts, even minimal ones that wind up being labeled as greenwashing still benefit the environment. I don't recall seeing this argument in other literature. He also points out that the environmentally sustainable activity undertaken for any motive, including financial profit is good activity. Again this is a perspective somewhat different than the classic "be green because it is good/right to be green" one seen so often in other literature.
Mr. Schendler's writing style made his book an engaging and entertaining read for me. He frequently uses Aspen and Colorado as a backdrop to make his point. While overall the book is hard hitting, I never felt as though I was being hit hard while reading the book. It was more like a conversation with a knowledgeable colleague than a lecture.
Interesting note: There is a description on the copyright page that explains that the paper used in the book is 100% post consumer recycle paper processed chlorine free. The ink is a vegetable based ink and the adhesives are water based and recyclable. While I suspected that the book would have been produced in a sustainable manner without reading the information I would not have known there was anything different about the book compared to any other hardcover book. It is in keeping with the whole endeavor the book remains approachable rather than banging the green drum.
Mr. Schendler maintains a website at www.gettinggreendone.com
Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AudenSchendler
Available for Purchase From
Amazon Getting Green Done: Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution
Available for download from iTunes
Green Building A to Z -- Understanding the Language of Green Building
Author: Jerry Yudelson
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Length: 239 pages
He has been involved in commercializing renewable energy systems, environmental remediation products and services and green building design and consulting services for over 25 years. He is a registered engineer and holds degrees in civil and environmental engineering from Caltech and Harvard and an MBA from University of Oregon. He has trained over 3000 industry professionals in the LEED system. He is the author of eight books on green building.
What the book is not: This is not a guide on how to construct, design or contract for green buildings. Nor is it a technical reference on green building codes and practices.
Prior to reading the book I considered myself at least conversant with many of the concepts involved in green building. That notwithstanding, while flipping I still found it entertaining to read the articles related to some of the things I already "knew". In each article, in addition to explaining the term Mr. Yudelson adds context such as statistics, history etc. about the subject. Many entries include an illustration, graph or table of information. I found the context to be interesting enough that I read the entries for the terms I was already familiar with. In most instances I learned something new. For example in the entry on Cool Roofs I learned that in the US $40 billion is spent annually on roofs. Also, and perhaps more significantly that the per building energy savings from cool roofs range from 4% to about 50% depending on the environment. This range was broader, both at the lower and higher ends than I expected.
The book demonstrates that green building reaches beyond only addressing GHG matters through the inclusion of the history and statistics that point to other areas of environmental and energy impacts. In relation to energy Yudelson points out that in addition to reducing GHG emissions constraints on the availability of electricity are also addressed by green building. Statistics to back up these claims are included in the book. In the US residential and commercial buildings account for 68% of consumed electricity. Building design and construction can account for 30% of raw materials use, 40% of non-industrial landfill waste and 12% of potable water use.
List Of Chapters
Part I Green Buildings Today
~Green Buildings in a Global Context~
~Green Building History~
~What is a Green Building~
~Becoming a Green Building Advocate~
Part II Green Building: A to Z
~Green Building Terms~
~About the Author~
While overall I enjoyed the book there were a couple of aspects that I found disappointing. Much of Chapter 4 Becoming a Green Building Advocate is devoted to listing measures you can take that while they would perhaps reduce your carbon footprint, in my opinion, have little or nothing to do with green building. The first sub-heading happens to be titled "Reducing Your Carbon Footprint". Though the sub-heading "In Your Home or Apartment" does include a number steps related to green building they are fairly vague. Additionally, it recommends things like buying a hybrid vehicle, buying carbon offsets for all of your mileage, none of which have much to do with green building.
My second quibble with the book is in some of the articles Mr. Yudelson presents what is arguably an overly optimistic view of the topic. For example though currently there are many in industry and the press that point to shortcomings of LEED, such as its complexity, the difficulty and expense of getting a building certified, the disproportionate number of buildings that register the intent to certify versus the number that actually do, Mr. Yudelson barely mentions these counterpoints. Arguably, I think it important for anyone using Green Building A to Z as a reference or learning tool to be aware of issues with LEED.
That said, there is far more to like about Green Building A to Z than there is to be disappointed in. The amount of "techno speak", level of detail and length of the individual articles for me was just right. There was enough detail for me to feel informed without becoming overwhelmed. A fun aspect of reading this book was coming across entries for things that were new to me. For example the entry on Permeable Pavement, which is pavement that allows water to infiltrate into the ground, provided both a "hmm what a neat idea" moment as well as an "aha" moment when I realized at the end of the article that permeable paving included single size aggregate gravel without a binder.
Whether for refreshers or more details on things already familiar like LEED or information about new topics like emerging green building standards such as Green Globes or Green Guide for Healthcare Green Building A to Z is a book worth having on the shelf. The book is accessible and works either read from beginning to end, browsed, or as a reference book. I found it worth reading and enjoyed discovering information and knowledge about green building that I was unaware of previously. Lastly, in Part 3 of the book there is a chapter devoted to other Resources. The resources include books, publications and websites.
Interesting note Yudelson includes an entry titled Native American and Native Canadian Ways of Living. In this entry he points out that both native Americans and Canadians built living structures that incorporated and maintained access to nature and utilized naturally occurring features of the land. He gives the example of the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in Colorado. These structures were built to utilize the overhanging cliffs to provide protection from the summer sun, high in the sky, while still allowing the lower in the sky winter sun to shine on the dwellings. Modern green building techniques are starting to incorporate some of the same design principals as those used in historic dwellings.
The Yudelson Associates website is: http://www.greenbuildconsult.com/
An interview with Jerry Yudelson about writing Green Building A to Z: http://www.greenbuildconsult.com/pdfs/gb_a-z_interview.pdf
Available for Purchase From
Amazon Green Building A to Z: Understanding the Language of Green Building