What is a Living Building? The Living Building Challenge was started by the Cascadia Green Building Council and has become a separate certification in its own right, based on a system of Petals.
Living Building Certified used to be nearly impossible to achieve, but the certification program has changed drastically very recently and now there are a series of tiers that are achievable on nearly every green building project.
Core Certification, Zero Energy Certification, Zero Carbon Certification, Living Building Challenge Petal Certification and Living Certification are part of the family of building certification programs administered by the International Living Future Institute. Together, they create a suite of certifications designed to address the many types of highly aspirational projects.
Kendeda Building, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia
Photograph by Author
We believe that if you want to create a green building that you don’t want to be missing out at least some level of Living Building certification. Not only do we feel that they are pertinent to achieve on every project but they are a great investment and will also enable your client to build a more resilient real estate portfolio.
“A flourishing future is ours when we are ready to start creating it.”
~ Sandra Leigh Lester, CEO”
Different Levels of Living Building Certification
Core Green Building Certification
It imperative that we start creating green or sustainable buildings that put the connection to nature, equity and the need for a building to be loved on even footing with the typical water, energy and materials concerns. The Living Building Challenge Core Green Building Certification will acknowledge that achievement and make your next project stand out from your competition.
The Core Green Building Certification is simple and easy to use: There are ten simple Imperatives that must be met for any type of project, at any scale, in any location around the world. Core is decidedly not a checklist—the requirements are performance-based and position demonstrated best practice as an indicator of success.
Zero Energy Certification
It is imperative that we start creating buildings that can produce enough on-site energy for the needs of the building operations. The Living Building Challenge Zero Energy Certification is a great place to gain acknowledgement for that achievement.
Zero energy is recognized worldwide as one of the highest aspirations in energy performance in the built environment. The International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Zero Energy (ZE) Certification was created to allow projects to demonstrate zero energy performance, building an advanced cohort of projects with the integrity of third-party performance certification. This program, is the only international zero energy certification.
Zero Carbon Certification
It imperative that we start creating buildings that do not add to our already-burdened atmosphere and the Living Building Challenge Zero Carbon certification is a great place to gain acknowledgement for that achievement.
Projects must demonstrate actual net zero carbon operations based on a twelve-month performance period, during which time the project must be occupied consistently with its stated use. The total embodied carbon emissions of the final construction materials and processes associated with the project must be disclosed and accounted for through the procurement of equivalent carbon offsets. New projects must demonstrate a reduction in the embodied carbon of primary materials compared to an equivalent baseline.
Our buildings need to give back to our ecosystems creating a building that is nontoxic, creates all of its own energy, harvests all needed water and is built to enable our society to thrive. The Petal Certification is just a step down from the prestigious Living Building Challenge 4.0 Certification. This level of Certification requires at least three of the seven Petals, one of which must be Water, Energy or Materials.
Living Building Challenge compliance is based on actual, rather than modeled or anticipated, performance. Therefore, projects must be operational for at least twelve consecutive months prior to audit to verify Imperative compliance. Core Imperatives must be met that are applicable for each building typology.
Our buildings need to give back to our ecosystems creating a building that is nontoxic, creates all of its own energy, harvests all needed water and is built to enable our society to thrive.
All Living Building Challenge projects must be holistic—addressing aspects of all seven Petals (Place; Water; Energy; Health + Happiness; Materials; Equity; and Beauty) through the Core Imperatives that are applicable for each building typology.
Living Building Challenge compliance is based on actual, rather than modeled or anticipated, performance. Therefore, projects must be operational for at least twelve consecutive months prior to audit to verify Imperative compliance.
How Do You Land a Living Building Project?
If you have a project that is in Concept Design… then we believe that you have already landed one!
Surprisingly, the increased capital that is needed to build a Living Building Net Zero or Zero Carbon project will most likely have a simple payback and simple ROI that are well below your client’s equity hurdle rate for investment—but you won’t know that if you don’t get some assistance and some data to drive these decisions, and this is where we can help.
Building a Living Building Challenge certified project has a financial advantage as well. What is the cost to your client if they don’t build one and they have to vacate the building during power outages, and are not using their facilities to boost their occupants’ productivity?
We come in at the project proforma or concept design stage. We will use an energy model and other state-of-the-art tools to determine how you can achieve a passive design at the lowest capital investment cost. We even help you sell this to your client.
Contact us today so we can help you on your next project!