Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is an international sustainable building certification program created in 2006 by the non-profit International Living Future Institute.
Image credit: Living Future Institute

It is described by the Institute as a philosophy, advocacy tool and certification program that promotes the most advanced measurement of sustainability in the built environment. It can be applied to development at all scales, from buildings – both new construction and renovation - to infrastructure, landscapes and neighborhoods, and is more rigorous than green certification schemes such as LEED or BREEAM.

1 History
1.1 International Living Future Institute
2 Living Building Challenge performance areas
3 Projects pursuing Living Building Challenge certification
4 External links
5 References

The Living Building Challenge was launched by the Cascadia Green Building Council (a chapter of both the U.S. Green Building Council and Canada Green Building Council). It was created by Jason F. McLennan and Bob Berkebile, of BNIM. McLennan brought the program to Cascadia when he became its CEO in 2006. The International Living Building Institute was created of and by Cascadia in May 2009 to oversee the Living Building Challenge and its auxiliary programs. In April 2011, the International Living Building Institute was renamed the International Living Future Institute (the Institute).

International Living Future Institute
The International Living Future Institute is a non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to catalyzing a global transformation toward true sustainability. The Institute seeks partnerships with leaders in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in pursuit of a future that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

The Institute is the umbrella organization for the Living Building Challenge and the Cascadia Green Building Council, along with The Natural Step USA and Ecotone Publishing.

Living Building Challenge performance areas[edit]
Living Building Challenge comprises seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. These are subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence:

  • Petals Imperatives Neighborhood Building Landscape+Infrastructure Renovation
  • Site Limits to growth
  • Urban Agriculture not required not required
  • Habitat exchange
  • Car free living not required not required
  • Water Net zero water
  • Ecological water flow not required
  • Energy Net zero energy
  • Health Civilized environment not required
  • Healthy air not required
  • Biophilia not required
  • Materials Red list
  • Embodied carbon footprint
  • Responsible industry
  • Appropriate sourcing
  • Conservation + reuse
  • Equity Human scale + humane places not required
  • Democracy + social justice not required
  • Rights to nature not required
  • Beauty Beauty + spirit
  • Inspiration + education

(NOTE: Scale Jumping allows multiple buildings or projects to operate in a cooperative state – sharing green infrastructure as appropriate and allowing for Living Building, Site or Community status to be achieved as elegantly and efficiently as possible.)

Certification is based on actual, rather than modeled or anticipated, performance. Therefore, projects must be operational for at least 12 consecutive months prior to evaluation. To earn 'Living' status (full program certification), projects must meet all assigned Imperatives and have proven performance through at least 12 consecutive months of operation. To celebrate successes and to educate other efforts, project teams may earn Petal Recognition (partial program certification) by satisfying the requirements of a minimum of three categories, of which at least one must be water, energy or materials. The first Living BuildingsSM were certified in October 2010, and by March 2013, only six had achieved certification.

The targets are rigorous and set at the highest conceivable; every project must meet each of its 20 strict requirements to achieve the certification. This 'ceiling' is where far fewer than 1% of buildings assessed under BREEAM would fall and in excess of 'Outstanding' rating.


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