Article Date: 09/27/2013

Advice Offered for Project Teams Pursuing Living Building Challenge Certification

By Steve Rizer


For construction professionals who may join a construction project in which Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification is being pursued, what advice should they follow? What should architects, engineers, contractors, owners, and others know before committing to or working on such a project? For answers to these questions, ConstructionPro Week interviewed a spokesperson for the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), the organization that created the international sustainable building certification program seven years ago. Here is how he responded to the question:


“One important piece of advice is to be sure that you have the understanding of the full project team,” ILFI Communications Manager Jay Kosa said. “Education is important to this effort, for example, having an introductory training session for all subcontractors to explain [LBC]. It is important that everyone is committed and working together to achieve this challenging goal.” 


Kosa reported that project teams “have consistently remarked that pursuing [LBC certification] has forever changed the way they look at projects. They are forced to consider a holistic approach to project design and to carefully consider the environmental and social impacts of their decisions. It isn’t easy -- our certification is called a ‘challenge’ for a reason -- but the project teams of the certified projects take immense pride in achieving certification.”


LBC consists of seven performance areas called “petals” “site,” “water,” “energy,” “health,” “materials,” “equity,” and “beauty.” Petals are subdivided into 20 “imperatives,” each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence.


“This compilation of imperatives can be applied to almost every conceivable typology, or project type, be it a building (both renovation of an existing structure or new construction), infrastructure, landscape, or community development,” ILFI explained. “Naturally, strategies to create living landscapes, infrastructure, renovations, buildings, or neighborhoods will vary widely by occupancy, use, construction type, and location -- this is necessary -- but the fundamental considerations remain the same. Each project must identify its ‘living transect,’ or intensity of development surrounding its site. There are six living transects, ranging from “natural habitat preserve to urban core.


ILFI further explained that two overarching rules govern the standard:”[First,] all imperatives assigned to a typology are mandatory. Some typologies require fewer than 20 imperatives because the conditions are either not applicable or may compromise other critical needs. However, teams are encouraged to integrate the optional imperatives into their projects wherever possible. [Second, LBC] certification is based on actual -- rather than modeled or anticipated -- performance. Therefore, projects must be operational for at least 12 consecutive months prior to evaluation.”


Four projects have achieved “Full Living Building Certification” by meeting all imperatives of LBC. Their identities and certification dates are as follows: Tyson Living Learning Center, Eureka, Mo., certified October 2010; Omega Center for Sustainable Living, Rhinebeck, N.Y., October 2010; Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Laboratory, Waimea, Hawaii, April 2011; and Bertschi Living Building Science Wing, Seattle, last April.


Three projects have achieved “Petal Recognition,” including the following: Baird Residence, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, certified October 2010; Painters Hall, Salem, Ore., April 2012; zHome, Issaquah, Wash., last May.


Four projects have achieved “Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) Certification,” including the following: IDeAs Z2 Design Facility, San Jose, Calif., certified April 2012; Painters Hall, Salem, Ore., April 2012 (in addition to Petal Recognition); zHome in Issaquah, Wash., last May (in addition to Petal Recognition); DPR Construction's Phoenix Regional Office, last May.


Case studies for each certified project is available on ILFI’s website at



Purchase a Subscription
with a money-back guarantee
and immediate access


Buy This Item Individually
Price: $20.00

Already a member?



WPL Publishing - 5750 Bou Avenue #1712 - Rockville, MD 20852

Phone: (301)765-9525  -  Fax: (301)983-4367

All Content and Design Copyright © 2024 WPL Publishing
About Us

Contact Us

Privacy Policy

My Account