i salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. for when you are at that centre within you and i am at that place within me, we shall be one. - chief crazy horse, oglala sioux, 1877

Saturday, September 18, 2010

the living building challenge


What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place? What if every intervention resulted in greater biodiversity; increased soil health; additional outlets for beauty and personal expression; a deeper understanding of climate, culture and place; a realignment of our food and transportation systems; and a more profound sense of what it means to be a citizen of a planet where resources and opportunities are provided fairly and equitably?

[indeed this is what the living building institute is creating. they've developed a standard by which we can measure our development choices.]

Jason McLennan, CEO of the Cascadia Green Building Council, the Pacific Northwest's leading green building and sustainable development organization (a chapter of both the U.S. and Canadian Green Building Councils), is: the creator of the international green building program-the Living Building Challenge; co-creator of Pharos, the most advanced building material rating system in North America; and founder/CEO of Ecotone Publishing. He is the author of The Ecological Engineer and The Philosophy of Sustainable Design (currently used as a textbook in over 40 universities internationally), and is a former principal at BNIM Architects, one of the pioneering firms in the green design movement in the U.S.

Here is a very basic introduction to the standards set by the living building challenge:

1. Projects may only be built on greyfields or brownfields – previously developed sites

2. All projects must integrate opportunities for agriculture20 appropriate to the scale and density of the project

3. For each hectare of development, an equal amount of land must be set-aside in perpetuity as part of a habitat exchange

4. Each new project should contribute towards the creation of walkable, pedestrian-oriented communities

5. One hundred percent of occupants’ water use must come from captured precipitation or closed loop water systems that account for downstream ecosystem impacts and that are appropriately purified without the use of chemicals

6. One hundred percent of storm water and building water discharge must be managed onsite to feed the project’s internal water demands or released onto adjacent sites for management through acceptable natural time-scale surface flow, groundwater recharge, agricultural use or adjacent building needs.

7. One hundred percent of the project’s energy needs33 must be supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis.

8. Every occupiable space must have operable windows that provide access to fresh air and daylight

9. To promote good indoor air quality, Renovations, Buildings, and buildings completed as part of Neighborhood projects must meet the following criteria:
• Entryways must have an external dirt track-in system and an internal dirt track-in system contained
within a separate entry space.37
• All kitchens, bathrooms, copy rooms, janitorial closets and chemical storage spaces must be
separately ventilated and exhaust directly to outside air.
• Ventilation rates must be designed to comply with ASHRAE 62 and equipment must be installed to
monitor levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), temperature and humidity.
• Smoking must be prohibited within the project boundary.

10. The project must be designed to include elements that nurture the innate human attraction to natural systems and processes. Each of the six established Biophilic Design Elements must be represented for every 2,000 m2 of the project:
• Environmental features
• Natural shapes and forms
• Natural patterns and processes
• Light and space
• Place-based relationships
• Evolved human-nature relationships

11. The project cannot contain any of the following Red List materials or chemicals.
• Asbestos
• Cadmium
• Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethlene43
• Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
• Chloroprene (Neoprene)
• Formaldehyde (added)
• Halogenated Flame Retardants44
• Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
• Lead (added)
• Mercury
• Petrochemical Fertilizers and Pesticides45
• Phthalates
• Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
• Wood treatments containing Creosote, Arsenic or Pentachlorophenol
There are temporary exceptions for numerous Red List items due to current limitations in the materials economy.

12. The project must account for the total footprint of embodied carbon (tCO2e) from its construction and projected replacement parts through a one-time carbon offset tied to the project boundary

13. The project must advocate for the creation and adoption of third-party certified standards for sustainable resource extraction and fair labor practices.

14. The project must incorporate place-based solutions and contribute to the expansion of a regional economy rooted in sustainable practices, products and services.

15. All projects teams must strive to reduce or eliminate the production of waste during design, construction, operation, and end of life in order to conserve natural resources.

16. The project must be designed to create human-scaled rather than automobile-scaled places, so that the experience brings out the best in humanity and promotes culture and interaction.

17. All primary transportation, roads and non-building infrastructure that are considered externally focused must be equally accessible to all members of the public regardless of background, age and socioeconomic class including the homeless, with reasonable steps taken to ensure that all people can benefit from the project’s creation

18. The project may not block access to, nor diminish the quality of, fresh air, sunlight and natural waterways for any member of society or adjacent developments.

19. The project must contain design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit and place appropriate to its function.

20. Educational materials about the performance and operation of the project must be provided to the public to share successful solutions and to motivate others to make change. Non-sensitive areas of Building, Landscape + Infrastructure and Neighborhood projects must be open to the public at least one day per year to facilitate direct contact with the Living Building Challenge.

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