The Living Building Challenge—A New Standard for Green Buildings


Logo. Image: International Living Future Institute.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—or LEED—is easily the most popular certification system, with certified buildings amounting to almost 9 billion square feet of space. Without doubt, LEED is instrumental in transforming an otherwise strange idea into a marketable success. LEED’s certification system is one of the strongest mechanisms that drove construction firms and building owners to the adoption of green building standards.

It is without question, though, that LEED is not the lone certification system and does not provide the highest possible green standards there are. In fact, a fairly new standard for green buildings has been recently introduced: The Living Building Challenge.

The mission of the challenge is to offer a global vision for sustainability, to partner with local communities to create grounded and relevant solutions and to reach out to individuals to unleash people’s imagination and innovation.

Launched in 2010, the Living Building Challenge requires higher standards in several aspects compared to LEED. The idea behind the Living Building Challenge is to transform already developed buildings and structures that has caused environmental degradation ( called greyfields or brownfields) into green buildings. The challenge is then to develop these greyfields and brownfields and ensure that they meet the 20 requirements of the Living Building Challenge.

The Living Building Challenge comprises seven performance areas: Water, Site, Energy, Health, Materials, Beauty, and Equity. These areas are then further divided into twenty Imperatives that have their own sphere of influence.

Another interesting feature of this new initiative is that it can apply not just to an existing building, but even to parks, college campuses, and entire communities.

In fact, you are also encouraged to download this document, which provides a framework for the design and construction requirements for certification. It also outlines the symbiotic relationship between a person and his environment.


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