The Living Building Challenge (LBC), the super-rigorous green building standard that makes LEED look like child’s play, has won the 2012 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Apparently, the second time’s a charm since this isn't the first time that the LBC has been in the running for what’s regarded as socially responsible design-science’s most prestigious honor. Previously, the LBC was a finalist for the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. The award that year went to the desertification reversal project, Operation Hope.
Announced June 6 during an awards ceremony at the Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design in New York, this is quite an honor for the Seattle-based certification program — it’s an offshoot of the International Living Future Institute, which itself is an offshoot and now the parent organization of the Cascadia Green Building Council — that’s maintained a relatively low profile since launching in 2006 as "the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today." This is partly because LBC certification is so damned difficult to obtain; only three projects — the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, N.Y., the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab in Kamuela, and the Tyson Living Learning Center in Eureka, Mo. — have achieved full “Living” certification. Three other projects including a cob-constructed private residence in Victoria, B.C., dubbed Eco-Sense (pictured above) have obtained Petal Recognition and/or Net-Zero Energy Building Certification.
Currently, there are more than 140 projects (!) spread across eight countries and 28 U.S. states aiming to meet the LBC’s seven primary performance areas that are divided into a total of 20 imperatives: Site, Energy, Water, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. On the topic of current LBC projects, you may recall that I recently blogged about the winner of the Living Aleutian Home Design Competition, a competition in which the international design community was invited to create a three-bedroom home adhering to LBC principles in the super-remote, super-harsh fishing outpost of Atka in Alaska's Aleutian Islands.
Remarked International Living Future Institute CEO Jason F. McLennan after the big win that involves an award of $100,000 “to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity's most pressing problems:”
Winning the Buckminster Fuller Prize is a huge honor for us. When we first launched the Living Building Challenge in late 2006, we really went out on a limb. We didn't know how the building industry would respond to such an ambitious, performance-based building standard. Less than six years later, our Challenge is changing the way buildings worldwide are created, renovated and operated. Our current focus is bringing the Challenge up to the community and city scales, and the recognition offered by the Buckminster Fuller Institute with this award will help accelerate the international adoption of the strategies embodied by the Living Building Challenge at all scales.
The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is setting the standard for how to build in the 21st century by establishing the highest bar yet for environmental performance and ecological responsibility within the built environment -‐ not by ‘fighting the existing reality,’ as Buckminster Fuller suggested, but by ‘building a new model’ and establishing new benchmarks for non-toxic, net-zero structures. And while Fuller’s own lifetime of radical design breakthroughs in shelter centered on a fully automated, mass produced living service industry approach to the built environment, The Living Building Challenge goes far beyond current best practices, reframing the relationship between the built and natural environments. LBC seeks to lead the charge toward a holistic standard that could yield an entirely new level of integration between building systems, transportation, technology, natural resources, and community. If widely adopted, this approach would significantly enhance the level of broad-‐based social collaboration throughout the design and building process and beyond, dramatically reducing the destructiveness of current construction, boost the livability, health, and resilience of communities.