Out of the Way, LEEDS—There’s a New (Green Building) Sheriff in Town
LEEDS was only the beginning. Now, the gauntlet has truly been thrown down. The International Living Building Institute has issued a challenge:
“to all design professionals, contractors and building owners to create the foundation for a sustainable future in the fabric of our communities.
to politicians and government officials to remove barriers to systemic change, and to realign incentives and market signals that truly protect the health, safety and welfare of people and all beings.
to all of humanity to reconcile the built environment with the natural environment, into a civilization that creates greater biodiversity, resilience and opportunities for life with each adaptation and development.”
The Living Building Challenge is currently the most stringent and advanced measure of sustainability, providing a comprehensive set of green practices for building designers, developers and owners.
From avoiding ecologically harmful materials to demonstrating a full year of net-zero energy use, the Living Building Challenge is a tough but inspiring call to action. “A tall order to be sure,” states the organization, but one that has already been met by several projects—and continues to be pursued by many more.
Rising Up to the Living Building Challenge
Projects that have met the challenge include:
The Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab. The Energy Lab is high school science building that houses research facilities dedicated to the study of green energy. It has demonstrated its zero-net energy status and is also LEED Platinum certified—an impressive feat for a nearly 100,000 square foot building.
- The Omega Center for Sustainable Living in New York. Part wastewater treatment plant, part yoga studio and part classroom, the Omega Center was built for the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and features geothermal and solar energy sources, along with a chemical-free greywater recovery system.
- The Tyson Research Center at Washington University is located on a 2,000 acre “living landscape for environmental research and education” at WashU, promoting sustainable design with its zero-net energy and water usage.
A Vision for the Future of Green Buildings
No other facilities have yet claimed Living Building Challenge certification, but many are aiming to. The point is not to create a contest, but rather to call attention and action to a growing need for sustainable design and construction. The Living Building Challenge signifies a path toward the future of green buildings—one that’s adaptable, performance-based and potentially revolutionary.