With energy-efficient and sustainable construction maintaining a significant place in the current construction industry, new initiatives that support green building continue to emerge. Net-zero buildings, for example—those buildings that create as much energy as they use—have become increasingly popular among energy-conscious and environmentally aware contractors and clients. A new initiative, the Living Building, has the potential to take the concepts of green building even further.
The Living Building Challenge
The Living Building Challenge (LBC), promoted by the International Living Future Institute, is a carefully controlled building certification that can be applied to structures that meet extremely strict standards of sustainability, energy efficiency and green construction. The LBC standards are so stringent that fewer than 10 LBC-certified buildings exist as of March 2016, according to reporter Kim Slowey on the Construction Dive website. Another 20 buildings are in the precertification stage.
LBC standards increase the sustainability factor to a level that turns a building into an almost natural part of its surrounding environment. The standard “calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture,” according to the Living Building Challenge website.
A certified building must meet standards in seven distinct areas, known as “petals,” Slowey reported. These comprise Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Both net positive water and energy are required, as is a healthy indoor environment. The standard requires car-free living, access to nature, and careful consideration of the beauty and spirit of a structure.
Although LBC certification is a considerable challenge, meeting it gives environmentally aware builders and occupants the opportunity to take a large-scale, positive step toward confronting what they see as some of the biggest threats to the planet’s future.
LBC certification could also provide practical benefits and economic returns in cities that are aggressively pursuing sustainability and environmentally conscious construction, Slowey noted.
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