This is the first part of an nine-part series from green building consultant Jerry Yudelson.

I’ve been a green building consultant for more than 13 years now, and have certified many projects under the LEED rating system. So, now seems like a good time to sum up my lessons learned, and put forward some advice that might be useful for new green building consultants. I have created a seven-part list comprised of habits or tips to help lead to success as a green building consultant. The lessons, which I'll spell out in more detail in individual blog posts, mirror what Stephen Covey, the best-selling author of the original “Seven Habits” books had to say, but in the context of green buildings.

  1. Be proactive. Aim for the highest possible certification (LEED or otherwise) consistent with budget, mission, and intentions of the project team. Don’t settle for “LEED Light,” or certification in name only.

  2. Start each project with the end-goal in mind of certification. It’s almost impossible to achieve high-performance results without visualizing what that might mean. In today’s world, the end-goal is often a net-zero-energy building or a Living Building.

  3. Get buy-in from the team as to the project's approach to green building. We’ve often seen green building projects go astray when the consultants assume that everyone has bought into the green approach.

  4. Figure out how everyone can win. Start with the owner and include everyone on the team, paying special attention to cost and constructability issues.
  5. Use design charrettes, what we call eco-charrettes, to listen to everyone’s concerns and to make sure they understand how they can contribute to the end result.

  6. Promote integrated design, often by bringing energy and water issues early into design, so that the consultants and the architect can explore synergies that produce more but cost less.

  7. Sharpen the saw. Commit to continuous learning, or what Covey called “sharpening the saw.” Visit projects you’ve read about, go to other countries, and read everything you have time for; green building is a vast undertaking.

Of course there’s much more to say, with 50,000 LEED projects underway, and I'm sure many consultants have their own lists of what to do. Some of these lessons may have worked for you, and if they have, please leave a comment on this series. In the meantime, stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of each tip and at the end of the series, I'll have one bonus habit to cultivate.

Jerry Yudelson, LEED Fellow, is principal at Yudelson Associates, Tucson, Arizona. This post originally appeared on