The Living Building Challenge – Beyond Sustainable and into Regenerative Design

living-building-challengeThe Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a rating system similar to LEED as it uses a holistic approach to green building and it covers many different aspects of the built environment. However, LBC is much more rigorous as the requirements go far beyond standard green building and high performance design. The program requires each project to achieve net positive energy as well as net positive water, there is also a specific “red list” of chemicals/materials that can’t be used at all. So even in a basic Living Building Challenge project, which may be an oxymoron, the building needs to produce more energy than the building consumes, all water consumed by the building needs to be sourced on-site, and all grey and black water must be treated onsite (both of which are possible and push the limits of what current sustainable design looks like). The program goes far beyond the current “standards” for green building and moves into what is known as “Regenerative Design”.

The Living Building Challenge is broken up into seven credit areas called “petals” focused on areas which go beyond just the standard site, energy, water, materials, indoor air quality and look at place, beauty, equity, and health and happiness as well.

Petal Categories:

  • Place
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Health & Happiness
  • Materials
  • Equity
  • Beauty

The Living Building Challenge is a push to move not just the building industry, but human society to the next level of living a more integrated life with the natural world. Looking at nature, we can learn a lot about how to create new technologies and design strategies which work with the natural world, rather than against it.  Subject ares such as biophilia, symbiosis, permaculture, and beyond have us looking at the way plants, animals, and native cultures thrive and allow us to use this information make our designs better, while not giving up many of the comforts we are accustomed to. As LEED was far from where the building industry was twenty years ago and brought sustainability to the masses, LBC along with new versions of LEED continue to propel designs to the next level.