Challenge Accepted

The Living Building Challenge demands that teams exceed LEED requirements to create buildings that restore nature   

An artist rendering of Re:Vision Architecture’s concept for the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s multi-building complex. | Courtesy Alice Ferguson Foundation

The Living Building Challenge is the black belt of the green-building scene. The international building certification program, philosophy and advocacy tool was conceived in 2006 as a way to exceed LEED requirements—the standard in green building certification—challenging designers, builders and architects to build advanced sustainable buildings.

To be certified as a Living Building, seven categories must be met. The categories are represented as petals on a flower, and they are: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. Each petal is subdivided into 20 Imperatives. Nearly any building project—new or existing—of any scale in any location is eligible.

It’s so strict that there are only five buildings fully certified in the world—all in the U.S. The impetus to create the Living Building Challenge occurred when Cascadia Green Building Council—the U.S. Green Building Council chapter in the Northeast U.S. and part of Canada—wanted to improve upon LEED standards, which started in 1998. The group has since spun off into a separate 501c3 organization, The International Living Future Institute, with offices in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver.

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