2010 Finalist: Living Building Challenge
Living Building Challenge
The Living Building Challenge is a visionary strategy for creating a socially just, culturally rich and ecologically benign built environment. Rather than providing points for incremental improvements in building performance, it measures success against the end goal of true sustainability and provides a framework for restoring balance in the human ecosystem.”
ENTRY APPLICATION: PDF
WEBSITE: International Living Building Institute
Jason F. McLennan + Eden Brukman, Seattle, WA
Critical Need Being Addressed
Every natural system on the planet is in decline, but there is no shared understanding of what can and must be achieved now to reverse this decline. A new bar must be set for sustainability in the built environment to support the rapid adoption of integrated, cutting-edge techniques and practices.
Description of Initiative
Launched in November 2006, the Living Building Challenge has already proven to be a transformative program, with over sixty projects in various stages of development around North America and beyond. The Challenge inspires green building teams to leap forward and innovate new techniques – to demonstrate that ecological balance in the built environment is possible using current technology. To be “Living” the building(s) must achieve each of the Challenge’s environmentally critical imperatives (no exceptions). It must generate all of its own energy onsite using renewable sources; capture and treat all of its own water; be constructed of nontoxic, sustainably sourced materials; use only previously developed sites (ending sprawl); and be beautiful and inspiring to its inhabitants.
Challenge certification is based on 12 months of actual, not predicted, performance, ensuring that environmental claims reflect reality – not hype. Thus, to be “Living” a building must both inspire and educate the people who interact with it, transforming end users and visitors into agents of change. This single unifying standard catalyzes comprehensive change within the built environment, while giving end-users and policy makers a clear path toward true sustainability. The Challenge is now poised to make a bigger leap into countries around the world.
The Team behind the Living Building Challenge (LBC) is very solid, well spoken and dedicated. With courage and diligence they are translating our deepest understandings of sustainability into one of, if not the most, comprehensive set of design and performance based standards related to the built environment. Their purpose is to effect a paradigm shift in our entire approach to the buildings we design, construct, renovate and occupy and to serve as a catalyst for innovation. Since launching the initiative in 2006 LBC has gathered significant momentum including international interest that is likely to result in the LBC getting up and running in Mexico and Ireland in 2010.
The LBC standards are evolving through ongoing feedback from a growing network of online collaborators and projects (currently 60 in various stages of development). When asked during the interview if they had ever considered including building weight as a key performance measure they acknowledged the value of such an approach but did not immediately embrace the concept. (Fuller always chided the building and design professions for being clueless about how much their buildings actually weighed whereas every designer of a ship, aircraft or spaceship knows its precise weight.) Recently released Version 2.0 now includes standards pertaining to community, food, transportation, health, education and social equity. An important aspect of participating in the LBC is the intense systems level design integration that is required between different design disciplines. This critical process of collaboration is key to fostering breakthroughs and inevitably extends into the regulatory arena. For example, a LBC project has already led to some important policy reforms in Oregon with regard to water reuse in buildings.
PEOPLE: About Jason F. McLennan, CEO of the Living Building Institute
He is a former Principal at BNIM Architects, one of the founders of the green design movement in the United States, where he worked on many of the leading high performance projects in the country including LEED Platinum, Gold and zero energy projects. At BNIM he created the building science team known as Elements, which set new standards for energy and resource efficiency on many of its projects in various building types. Jason is also the founder and CEO of Ecotone Publishing, the only dedicated green building publisher in North America. Jason was recently named one of the top 40 under 40 most influential individuals in the design and construction field by Building Design and Construction magazine.
PEOPLE: About Eden Brukman, Vice President of the Living Building Institute