One of the latest innovative measures in the A/E/C and design world, The Living Building Challenge (LBC), is a philosophy, an advocacy tool and a certification program that promotes today’s most advanced measurement of sustainability in building design and construction.
Founded in 2006, The Living Building Challenge recognizes buildings and their green credentials after they have been up and running for at least twelve months. Buildings have to fulfill specific and rigorous requirements in areas of water, energy, site, health, materials, equity and beauty.
Because the requirements are so stringent and the review so intense, the buildings that actually receive living building certification are some of today’s most advanced structures. At the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, New York, they operate at a net zero energy level. They make more energy than they use, and by using solar and geo thermal energy that does not pollute the air or add to the greenhouse effect, they are able to power the building itself as well as the on-site natural water reclamation system.
Another building that has passed LBC review is the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab located on the school’s campus on the big island of Hawaii. Through the use of local, natural resources such as lava rock and sugarcane, the energy lab works with the landscape instead of against it. The over 6,000 square foot facility boasts indoor and outdoor classrooms, conference and project rooms, a full workshop, and many other 21st century learning tools that all have the green building stamp of approval.
The Living Building Challenge challenges us to push farther in our reach towards sustainable living, and with more organizations realizing the value of protecting our natural resources and incorporating those values into best business practices, we can expect to see more LBC-certified buildings in the future.