Saturday, November 14, 2009

Living Buildings 2.0

Early last week, on the heels of the Sustainable Sites Initiative updated system launch, the International Living Building Institute offered the updated version of the Living Building Challenge, v2.0 - which offers a comprehensive building rating system for not just green, but regenerative buildings.

:: image via ilbi

The new system offers a much more robust system that incorporates local food production, expands the notion of sites and access to nature, limits gated communities and incorporates a number of other equity issues. The other major difference is that the results of certification are based on the end result, not the planned result as is standard in many projects. This is part of the reason there is not an officially designated Living Building to date - but many are in various stages of development around the world - on the race to be the first. I'm excited to take a look and see these new changes.

While I'm happy to see the expanded scope, I'm a bit disappointed that they didn't continue to move forward with the separate Living Sites and Infrastructure Challenge - but instead incorporated these ideas into v2.0 of the LBC. Combining sites and buildings makes a lot of sense and the LBCv2.0 integrates the two in a much needed way that is lacking in the majority of system approaches. As a way of measuring landscape projects, it's often hard to remove the building from site scale projects (thus they are not even ratable) - making the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI) the only viable game in town as a purely site-specific system.

There's plenty of rating systems out there, so time will tell the overall relevance and reach - but they tend to fall into two categories. Those in the first category attempt to respond the complexity and cost of LEED by offering a more accessible, yet watered down rating that has less impact, and thus less relevance. LEED remains the industry standard, but for those who want to push the boundaries of green beyond mere sustainability, there is luckily these alternatives out there. As LEED inches forward at a conservative snails pace by incrementally incorporated somewhat minor updates and additions to new versions, I foresee SSI and the Living Building Challenge filling some of the vacuum.

They may not gain the same market share as LEED - but will truly define what regenerative design will be for both buildings and sites - something that cannot happen now that LEED has become the defacto standard and is driven by market forces as much as a green agenda.

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