Understanding the Living Building Challenge

On Wednesday last week, I finally attended a 6 hour seminar on Understanding the Living Building Challenge (LBC) , part of the Living Future Unconference here in Vancouver. I wanted to attend the Roadshow, but time didn’t permit until now.

I have to say, I’m really impressed by both the LBC and the attendees.

The Challenge (and its called that for a reason) is simpler overall to administer than LEED. It’s not prescribed, it simply sets targets that consultants have to strive to achieve. These targets are simple in concept: create a net zero energy building (make as much as you need to operate on site); make water use net zero; do not use 14 listed “red zone” chemicals. However, they are much more difficult to achieve in practice. Many attendees learning about the program realized that the black hole of finding out what chemicals and their pseudonyms were actually in materials could lead to a loss of capital because the learning curve and the research could take up so much time. And though a client might be on board for the program, they may not be willing to pay for the extra research that goes into it. I have more to say about the LBC, though I’m still processing my thoughts. There will be more to come at a later date.

The attendees were from a range of places, including Romania. I was happy to see students, researchers, and even manufacturing reps in attendance, to see what could be done to improve building materials and the chemicals within them. One of the biggest things I learned listening to the dialogue was to continually ask manufacturers for better products. They are willing to listen if enough people ask.

I had a great time, and I really wish I could have attended the rest of the “unconference.” I only came away with 2 negative thoughts. The Understanding the Challenge Workshop didn’t also provide a 1-year membership to the International Living Building Institute (ILBI) as I was hoping, and unfortunately, finances being what they are, I chose to work instead of attending the rest of the conference. I wish I could have seen and heard more. I hope everyone had a great time though.

Any feedback from other attendees?

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