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Living Building Challenge - @fairsnape introduction to @GreenBuildExpo

Living Building Challenge - @fairsnape introduction to @GreenBuildExpo



Martin Brown, LBC UK, Introduction to Green Build Expo

Martin Brown, LBC UK, Introduction to Green Build Expo



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  • Greetings and thank you for your interest in the Living Building Challenge, a program of the International Living Future Institute that was publicly launched in November 2006.
  • My name is ___ and I am a volunteer for the International Living Future Institute Ambassador Network in your community. The Ambassador Network provides training, resources, and ongoing support to self-selected individuals who want to share the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge with others. I’ll share more about the network with you at the end of the presentation.Today, I’ll be providing a broad overview of the Living Building Challenge. You can find more specific information and other related documents on the web at living-building-challenge-dot-org.
  • My name is ___ and I am a volunteer for the International Living Future Institute Ambassador Network in your community. The Ambassador Network provides training, resources, and ongoing support to self-selected individuals who want to share the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge with others. I’ll share more about the network with you at the end of the presentation.Today, I’ll be providing a broad overview of the Living Building Challenge. You can find more specific information and other related documents on the web at living-building-challenge-dot-org.
  • Thank you for your interest in the Living Building Challenge. For more information and to subscribe to the online Community, please visit the website at living-building-challenge-dot-org. (Mention the opportunity to provide feedback on the presentation and ask if anyone has questions)
  • Living Building Challenge is a philosophy, advocacy tool, and certification program that addresses development at all scales.The underlying principle of the Living Building Challenge is that all projects should use nature as the ultimate measurement stick for performance – the Challenge uses the metaphor of the flower to illustrate this principle.Like a flower, all elements of the built environment are rooted in place. Yet, a flower has place-based solutions to meet all of its needs and to maintain balance with its surroundings. So, imagine a building, site or infrastructure project that is informed by its ecoregion’s characteristics. That generates energy with renewable resources, captures and treats water, operates efficiently and as part of a larger community; acts as feedstock for new developments at the end of its life; and is beautiful…. And neighborhoods that scale these solutions appropriate to size and function.
  • Living Building Challenge is an attempt to codify this figurative concept into a performance standard. But there are other, greater, potential outcomes from the program than the projects themselves.Living Building Challenge aims to provide the rich narrative needed to fuel accelerated change, using both technical elements and philosophical considerations. All aspects of the program are guided by identifying an ideal, and positioning that ideal as the indicator of success. In this way, decisions are steered by restorative principles instead of code-minimum solutions. These also serve as ever-present reminders of the objectives we are working to achieve.We anticipate that Living Building Challenge will generate truly transformative approaches to design and construction that will serve as models for other projects that follow. The market will adapt to better ecological solutions as more and more projects are completed.
  • Limits to Growth restricts the placement of new projects to reduce the impacts of development on intact ecosystems such as wetlands, dunes, forests and prairies, and to eliminate encroachment on much needed agricultural land. In addition, projects may only be constructed on sites that are already developed, greyfields, or brownfields. With this Imperative, the Challenge is declaring that people have co-opted enough land, and have not necessarily valued the space that we’ve taken already. Rather than seize more greenfields, we should take responsibility for our actions and reuse sites currently in disrepair. There is an exception to allow development within the 100 year flood plain for sites that are within a historic community core, which we define as developed prior to 1945. This encourages building in locations that typically do not rely on single-occupancy vehicles for transportation, and increases the likelihood for design solutions to be of the appropriate density. It also reinforces the priority to preserve the integrity and purpose of those development clusters rather than move to the outskirts of town.
  • Relative to the density of a project and its Transect, there is a minimum amount of area in Building and Neighborhood projects that must be used to support agriculture. This introduces nourishment into the project in a different way – beyond thinking about how we “feed” the project’s energy, water and material needs. The area required is defined as a set percentage relative to the gross square meters of the development compared to the size of the overall site. This density calculation is called a Floor Area Ratio, or F-A-R.This Imperative works in tandem with the requirements of Limits to Growth in that the agricultural plantings are not required to all be native or naturalized species. Of course, there are plants that fall into both categories, and project team’s are encouraged to considers these options.The Scale Jumping overlay applies to this Imperative.The following diagrammatic illustrations show the relationship of agricultural area to various project densities. In application, the area may be at ground level, on the roof or even incorporated into vertical planes.(FLIP THROUGH THE NEXT TEN SLIDES AT AN EVEN PACE. YOU MAY WANT TO CALL OUT A FEW OF THE F.A.R. AND PERCENTAGE REQUIREMETNS AS YOU GO)
  • Habitat Exchange is explicitly restorative. It requires that we acknowledge that by developing a site for our own use, we have evicted other species from their home. As a way to protect thriving ecosystems from suffering the same demise, teams must contribute to the purchase or permanent easement of an equal amount of this land in perpetuity. The Scale Jumping overlay applies to this Imperative.
  • The next Imperative, Car Free Living, provides a framework for project teams to evaluate the potential for a community to support a car free lifestyle based on the density and the mixture of occupancy types within an area. This is not the same as mandating the elimination of cars from the development. Rather, “car free” is defined by the potential for a majority of people living in the neighborhood to have a productive and rich lifestyle without need for a car.
  • All Living Building Challenge projects treat water as a precious resource. Conventional practices are incredibly wasteful – both by design and in use: It is unlikely for water to be repurposed, and sometimes water leaves the project before it is even used once. For example, just by turning off a typical sink faucet while brushing one’s teeth, each person could save about 2600 gallons of water a year from going to the sewer. It may seem inconsequential at a glace, but represents over 800 billion gallons when applied to the US population. (you can insert your own relevant statistic here)In addition to the need for behavioral modifications to conserve water, the requirements in the Water Petal face some of the most challenging regulatory barriers as well. Therefore, there is a temporary exception for water that must be from potable sources because of local health regulations. However, due diligence must be demonstrated through filing appeals with the appropriate agencies that offer solutions and protect the health, welfare and safety of the public.Because Landscape and Infrastructure projects implicitly have no occupancy-based buildings, designers will likely not experience the same challenges as with the other Typologies. Though a project intended for human use may fall into this category, the fact that occupancy is excluded changes the importance and focus of the strategies.The Scale Jumping overlay applies to both Imperatives in the Water Petal.
  • Mainstream society mandates that all water entering a building be ‘potable’, regardless of its function. A public utility is widely thought to be the only supplier available to a building and the water delivered is generally used for everything – drinking, bathing, toilet flushing and irrigation. This process relies on large, centralized and energy-intensive systems to move water far distances. And once water passes through the pipes, it is is reclassified – often as ‘blackwater’ – which is then conveyed to a treatment facility many miles from its point of use. The Living Building Challenge recognizes that water quality is not a black or white issue, per say, and that it is exceedingly wasteful to use drinking water to flush toilets or irrigate plants. A Living Building Challenge project is water independent. This is a key area where a paradigm shift in thinking is necessary – of course, water efficiency starts by asking if it is even needed. For example, composting toilets and waterless urinals offer solutions that have no demand and other tangible benefits. Once the need is minimized, water for occupant use must be come from captured precipitation or closed loop systems that account for downstream ecosystem impacts.
  • Ecological Water Flow balances the Net Zero Water Imperative by focusing on stormwater and used water, which must be managed on-site. This is contrary to traditional practice which removes much of the potential to recharge the aquifer, and makes filtering, purification and reuse difficult by allocating only one pipe that carries both sanitary and storm drainage. Living Building Challenge suggests that we should not shift the responsibility for handling and treating the water used by occupants downstream.There is a temporary exception for Building projects that have a F.A.R. equal to or greater than 1.5 in Transects L5 or L6, as well as a Climate overlay in locations where thre are extreme weather conditions. It allows some water to leave the site at a reduced rate and depends on site and soil conditions, as well as the surrounding development context. Greater flexibility is given to projects with higher densities.
  • The next Petal, Energy, is simple in that it only has one Imperative: Net-Zero Energy.It is critical that all projects are designed to be super efficient, and eliminating energy demand between 60-80% is possible, depending on the Typology and the occupancy type. Load reductions always come before applying renewable energy technologies. Because of this, implementing Living Building Challenge requires leading-edge knowledge and an integrated design process.Teams are encouraged to use the Scale Jumping overlay for this Petal. For example, it is less likely – and in many cases, appropriate – to put a wind turbine on each individual site, but a wind farm could easily feed the needs of an entire neighborhood.
  • Net Zero Energy requires that the annual energy demand for a project be met using on-site renewable resources, defined as passive solar, photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind turbines, water-powered microturbines, direct geothermal or fuel cells powered by hydrogen generated from renewably powered electrolysis. Nuclear energy is not an acceptable option and no combustion is allowed. When considering the appropriate performance threshold for this Imperative, the Living Building Challenge asks the question: If the solution was unilaterally applied, what would be the impact on soil, water, and air?
  • The Health Petal is unique in that it is less extreme in its approach. The intent of these Imperatives is not to address all of the potential ways that an interior environment could be compromised, but to focus on best practices to create healthy spaces. Impacts are kept in balance by the requirements of the Energy and Materials Petals; although there are more stringent features that can be applied, many of these have only incremental returns and weigh heavily on the investment required.
  • It is difficult to ensure optimal conditions due to the unpredictable nature of how people operate and maintain their spaces. A civilized environment allows for occupant control, particularly as it relates to sensory aspects such as air quality and thermal and visual comfort. With this Imperative, Living Building Challenge requires that there are operable windows throughout a project to ensure access to fresh air, daylight and views. Each occupied space should have at least one window-wall, which is defined as an exterior wall containing at least 10% glazing area. Although there are other listed parameters, there is no set maximum glass area, since the project will be limited by the demands of the Energy Petal. A component of the audit process includes daylight measurements, so project teams are encouraged to take into account the acceptable range for daylight factors based on the function of the space.
  • Source control for healthy air is predominantly related to a few variables that keep toxins from entering an interior space and prevent it from being contaminated. To ensure that the project is performing as anticipated, and to provide the Owner with a gauge for ongoing improvements, levels of respirable suspended particulates and total volatile organic compounds must be measured prior to occupancy and again after at least 9 months afterwards. Levels of RSPs and TVOCs will depend greatly on building products and furnishings, cleaning products and the items brought in by the occupants themselves. Requirements in the Materials Petal may curb the readings some, but the team must make a concerted effort to understand the influence of the products specified and installed.
  • Biologist EO Wilson coined the term Biophilia in 1984 and defines it as “the innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes”. He suggests that “to the degree that we come to understand other organisms, we will place greater value on them and on ourselves”. In addition, experts believe that this connection became biologically encoded in humans over the course of evolution and is therefore critical to human comfort.However, it is difficult to capture the essence of this empirical Imperative. As a means to translate, Stephen Kellert, renown social ecologist and author on the topic, offers six elements of biophilic design to help guide the design process.
  • Material selection has the most far-reaching and broad impacts on design, construction, and occupancy. It deeply influences – and is influenced by – each of the other Petals in Living Building Challenge. It is unsurprising, then, that the Materials Petal has the most Imperatives, and each issue is distinct. There are some program exceptions that play off the clear synergies between some of the requirements to reinforce the priorities of Living Building Challenge.The Precautionary Principle is the underlying theme that defines this category, and defines the suggested method for decision making. It poses that “if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action.”* In layman’s terms, it is the “better safe than sorry” approach.(* From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle)
  • (FOR SOME ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE HEALTH ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH EACH RED LIST ITEM, REFER TO THE ‘RED LIST SAMPLE LETTER’)The Red List is a perfect case-in-point for the Precautionary Principle. It includes some of the worst in class materials and chemicals that are ubiquitous in the built environment. These are carcinogens, persistent organic pollutants, and reproductive toxicants, many of which are bio-accumulative, meaning that they build up in organisms and the broader environment, often reaching alarmingly high concentrations as they travel up the food chain.
  • The building industry is largely responsible for many of these materials and chemicals in use. Living Building Challenge recognizes that it is a tall order to eliminate the Red List in all cases due to current market limitations. Because of this, there are several temporary exceptions footnoted in the Standard. As a last resort, the product is allowed to be used. However, when faced with imperfect solutions, project teams must communicate with manufacturers to share expectations about product ingredients. A letter must be sent the manufacturer explaining why the product purchase does not constitute an endorsement – and include a statement that requests that the company stops using the Red List material. The Institute has already seen some great successes as a result of the positive and constructive communication between project teams and manufacturers.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report in 2007 which demonstrated that between 13-18% of a building’s carbon impact occurs prior to occupancy. And as our projects are built for greater operational efficiencies, the percentage of embodied carbon impact is even greater. This is significant, especially when we consider that many buildings are constructed to last 75-100 years – or more. We can curb some of the carbon impacts by making better and different decisions about material procurement and assembly. The Embodied Carbon Footprint Imperative reminds us that we needs to account for this major contribution to greenhouse gases. The Scale Jumping overlay applies to this Imperative.
  • Responsible Industry intends to advocate for raw material extraction of stone and rock, metal, minerals, and timber that is holistic and truly sustainable.For industries that do not yet have standards in place, project teams must advocate for the development and enforcement of such criteria. The team is required to send one letter to the corresponding national trade association for each industry sector and ASTM International.
  • An idea can travel around the world, but everything else has limits.Imperative 14 improves the regional availability of good products and robust knowledge needed to implement restorative principles.
  • In 2003, the US EPA estimated that 170 million tons of building related waste was generated from construction, renovation, and demolition - equal to 3.2 pounds per person per day. The intent of the Conservation + Reuse Imperative is not only to reduce or eliminate material waste, but also to redefine it as a wasted opportunity.To minimize wasted materials, project teams must consider impacts during the design, construction, operation, and end-of-life phases of a development by developing a Material Conservation Management Plan. In it, teams are encouraged to consider appropriate durability of products. Another focus area is the potential for adaptable reuse of a development to consider how a project can be flexible enough to respond to the needs of the future without getting demolished.
  • The Equity Petal focuses on creating a built environment that upholds the dignity of all members of society regardless of their physical abilities or economic situation. The Imperatives cover a range of issues, including accessibility, rights to natural systems regardless of property ownership, and protecting individuals from the negative impacts caused by adjacent properties. It is critical for us to remember that most projects in the built environment greatly outlive the original owner or developer – and society inherits the legacies of bad decisions and good decisions alike. Since the act of building is a considerable environmental impact shared by everyone, there is an inherent responsibility to ensure that any project provides some public good and does not degrade quality of life for others or for future generations. After all, a society that embraces all sectors of humanity and allows the dignity of equal access is a civilization in the best position to make decisions that protect and restore the natural environment.
  • For the last one hundred years we have been remaking our neighborhoods, cities and towns to be car friendly rather than people friendly.  The scale of civilization has shifted away from places that work well for people - especially those who do not own a car.Imperative 16 redefines appropriate design solutions for many aspects of the built environment. Human Scale and Humane Places aims to reintroduce building and infrastructure parameters and enforce scale relationships that simply work in creating positive, humane and human-centered spaces.  This Imperative also sets a maximum size for single family residences - 425 square meters (4,575 square feet). 
  • This Imperative encompasses two major issues: access for people that are economically disadvantaged and access for those with physical disabilities.  There is a disturbing trend among modern cities where sizeable portions of what used to be considered 'public space' is now off-limits to those who do not fit into a 'desirable’ demographic. The privatization of streets, bridges and the like segregates between the have and have-nots. Democracy + Social Justice ensures that all such infrastructure be designed to be inclusive, regardless of socioeconomic class.The American's with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 and was a big leap forward in ensuring universal access and dignity for those that have mobility restrictions, which, according to the US census bureau, accounts for nearly 20 percent of all Americans. The ADA standards have the potential to benefit many individuals beyond those for whom it is specifically written - through greater ease of use and a better distribution of space. Because the Living Building Challenge is an international program, this Imperative ensures that this minimum level of compliance can be found in all certified projects, anywhere in the world.  
  • Rights to Nature claims that all people should have equal access to fresh air, daylight, clean water and natural systems. These rights should never be diminished merely because of current property ownership.
  • Unlike other green building rating systems, Living Building Challenge recognizes the need for beauty as a precursor to caring enough to preserve, conserve and serve the greater good. In this Petal, the Imperatives are based merely on genuine efforts. We do not begin to assume we can judge beauty and project our own aesthetic values on others. But we do want to understand people’s objectives and know that an effort was made to enrich people’s lives with each square foot of construction on each project. This intentionality must carry forth into a program for educating the public about the environmental qualities of Living Building Challenge projects.
  • Beauty and Spirit speaks to the heart of a project, and yet it is also inextricably linked to externalities such as the culture of the community that envelops it.This Imperative demands that a project team deeply knows and understands a place in order to design responsibly. It suggests that each project should contain features solely intended for human delight. This does not correlate with frivolity, but instead an explicit intention. Mandating beauty is, by definition, an impossible task. And yet, the level of discussion and ultimately, the results are elevated through attempting difficult but critical tasks.When the Living Building Challenge was first launched, one person suggested that this Imperative should be measured in the following way:The project should make1 in 50 people smile1 in 100 people laugh and 1 in 200 people cryThe program documents compliance in a different way -- but when was the last time you heard someone bring this level of emotional connection to a project?
  • The Inspiration and Education Imperative is the keystone of Living Building Challenge. After all, once a project embodies all of the other Imperatives, it should inspire other project teams to want to emulate its characteristics – and teach them how to.A Living Building Challenge project should act as a road map for other projects, teaching people about the design decisions made and systems used. Examples of educational tools that some teams are currently planning include: websites with real-time utilities tracking; 3D interfaces that highlight systems and their functionality; display areas onsite that publicize the project’s metering systems; and classes that will be taught onsite about the design and construction process.
  • As a reminder, there are several paths for certification. A project can earn “Living” status when it successfully addresses all of the Imperatives of the Living Building Challenge.
  • A project can earn partial program certification, or “Petal Recognition” by implementing the requirements of three or more Petals. At least one of the Petals must be Water, Energy or Materials. All projects must also comply with the site selection requirements in Imperative 01: Limits to Growth and the education requirements of Imperative 20: Inspiration + Education.
  • Net Zero Energy Building Certification is a third option for project teams. It includes 5 of the Living Building Challenge Imperatives: the site selection requirements in Limits to Growth; Net Zero Energy; the sunlight provisions in Rights to Nature; Beauty + Spirit; and Inspiration + Education. Projects that earn “Living” status and projects that achive these Imperatives through Petal Recognition are also automatically recognized under Net Zero Energy Building Certification.
  • Declare is an ingredients label for building products that offers answers to three essential questions: What is the product made of? Where was it made? And what will happen to it at the end of its life?Imperative 11 of the Living Building Challenge: The Red List, addresses the prevalence of building materials and chemicals that pose threats to human health and to the resilience of ecosystems. When attempting to meet this Imperative, many Living Building Challenge project teams have experienced difficulty getting manufacturers to disclose their ingredients. Declare helps to overcome this barrier by providing an online searchable database of Red List Free and Living Building Challenge compliant building materials. After a manufacturer submits a complete ingredients list to Declare and the company leader responsible for the product signs an agreement declaring that the submittal is accurate, they can be included in the database. .Declare is a program of the International Living Future Institute.
  • The Health Petal is unique in that it is less extreme in its approach. The intent of these Imperatives is not to address all of the potential ways that an interior environment could be compromised, but to focus on best practices to create healthy spaces. Impacts are kept in balance by the requirements of the Energy and Materials Petals; although there are more stringent features that can be applied, many of these have only incremental returns and weigh heavily on the investment required.
  • Greetings and thank you for your interest in the Living Building Challenge, a program of the International Living Future Institute that was publicly launched in November 2006.

Living Building Challenge - @fairsnape introduction to @GreenBuildExpo Living Building Challenge - @fairsnape introduction to @GreenBuildExpo Presentation Transcript

  • GOOD MORNINGMartin Brown & Claire BowlesLiving Building Challenge UK CollaborativeInternational Living Future Institute Ambassador Network
  • The Living Building ChallengeThe UK Collaborative
  • Getting Involved with LBC in the UKFollow @fairsnape @claireckeand of course @UK_LBCLike us on FacebookEmail Martin