Could the Living Building Challenge soon be the new industry standard for green building?
Over recent years, the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program has emerged as the industry standard for rating green buildings. Though the program has been considered widely successful, there are many in the A/E/C community who have stressed that LEED simply does not go as far as it could. From these green idealists, the movement behind the Living Building Challenge was born.
What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place? That question is what the Living Building Challenge (LBC) poses to all involved in the future of green building. The LBC was founded with the sole purpose of creating a higher level of sustainable building by expanding and improving upon current standards of green design and construction.
One of the main proponents behind the LBC is Jason McLennan, LEED AP, a Canadian-born architect who was involved with LEED from its early onset. McLennan, who served as Project Manager in the first 10 pilot LEED projects, began outlining the concepts behind living buildings in the late 1990s. By the mid 2000s he began devising the living building idea into a construction standard. In 2006, McLennan brought the intellectual property of the Living Building Challenge to the Cascadia Green Building Council and from this, later formed the International Living Future Institute (IFLI).
The ILFI describes the Living Building Challenge as “a philosophy, advocacy platform, and certification program.” The LBC founded its standards around seven “petals” which are: site, water, energy, heat, materials, equity and beauty. The first five of the seven petals match up with LEED’s current credit structure. Unlike LEED, however, teams cannot choose which petals to highlight, since there are no credits and just prerequisites.
The materials component seems to be the hardest petal to comply with since the LBC has a “Red List” of materials that cannot be used in any form of a project. However, individuals who have been involved in early LBC projects, like Stan Richardson, feel that “The materials component is the hardest to comply with, and it takes more time up front, but it will eventually be overcome.” In fact, there are hopes that manufactures will rise to the occasion and produce more materials that meet the Red List requirements.
So, the question remains. Will living buildings eventually replace the LEED program as the standard rating system for new green buildings? The answer is more than likely no. Most experts hope the LBC will emerge as a complimentary and not competitive program to LEED. In fact, according to architect Dan Hellmuth, AIA “LEED is trickier for smaller projects and is better for $2 million and higher projects.” Pilot projects for the LBC have used LEED Platinum as a baseline and aimed for the LBC as the ideal goal.
For more information on the Living Building Challenge visit their website, or watch a few feature clips below.
Sources: http://www.bdcnetwork.com/living-buildings-are-aec-firms-challenge https://ilbi.org/lbc/standard