The Living Building Challenge

Created in 2006, the Living Building Challenge is an international green building certification program and sustainable design framework. It is based on the idea that the built environment should function as cleanly and efficiently as a flower. As such, the Living Building Challenge uses a flower as a metaphor comprising of seven performance areas visualised as ‘petals’: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.

Buildings that Give More than They Take
Buildings which adhere to the Living Building Challenge give more than they take, creating a positive impact on the human and natural systems interacting with them. This is based on the theory of ‘regenerative sustainability’ which describes processes that restore, renew or revitalise their own sources of energy and materials. The Living Building Challenge aims for every act of design and construction to contribute to making the world a better place. Adherence to the design framework results in spaces and buildings which, like a flower, give more than they take.

In Practice
In practice, this translates to buildings which generate all of their own energy with renewable resources; capture and treat all of their water and that operate efficiently. The seven ‘petals’ or performance criteria are subdivided into a total of 20 ‘Imperatives’ which can be applied to any conceivable new or existing building project, from a single family residence to commercial high-rise.

Living Building Certification
There are two rules to becoming a living building: all ‘Imperatives’ are mandatory and certification is based on actual rather than anticipated performance. Buildings must be operational for 12 months prior to evaluation - as a result it is a more rigorous green certification than LEED or BREEAM.
There are a number of certified Living Buildings around the world, with most being located in the United States. These buildings are among the healthiest and most efficient in the world, providing resilient and self-sufficient systems with energy security into the future.

Sustainable and Green Design
At J.V. Tierney & Co. we are passionate about sustainable design and healthy buildings. We are excited to see advances which challenge the construction industry to ‘do better’ and create buildings which do not simply have less of a negative effect, but instead positively contribute to the environment and the lives of its users. If you would like to discuss the benefits of sustainable and green design, give our office a call on 01 4214900 or visit our website at – we look forward to hearing from you.

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