The Living Building Challenge Certification

August 30, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Certification, General | Leave a comment
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Considered a “manifesto in the form of a certification standard”, the Living Building Challenge stands out through a stringency meant to inspire new solutions in order to minimize the negative impact that construction has on the environment, maximize the positive impact and insure the building’s independence from the point of view of resources. This system’s mission is not a mere certification, but performance and the opening of new paths towards excellence in the green building field.

The certification incorporates four main social and environmental problems – climate change,persistent toxic chemicals, loss of habitat/ extinction of species and global inequity, problems that it addressees through seven categories, named Petals, which will be discussed in the further on. The association to the flower comes from the concept of grounded, an organic development which supports the system it belongs to. Thus, the certification’s Petals refer to the various aspects of such a living construction, namely to Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty.

The first Petal, related to the Site, aims to rebuild the connection between the urban and natural environments. Consequently, an essential aspect is that of not restricting the natural habitat, allowing the construction only on brownfield; additionally, a surface equivalent to the built area has to be devoted to ensuring the species’ freedom in nature. Also, the Living Building Challenge targets the creation of pedestrian areas, through efficient use of infrastructure and the proximity to facilities.

The Petal referring to water seeks to inspire the creation of places, buildings and communities relying on water independent systems that reuse water by filtering it without employing chemicals, gather the rain water and reduce the water consumption. This request is one of the main challenges for the design process, especially in residential areas, where water consumption is higher than in buildings with a discontinuous program. In the end though, this challenge is the first step towards innovation and more and more ingenious solutions custom made for each location.

The energetic request refers to a net zero energy consumption, the building relying on alternative forms of energy. Regarding the Health Petal, this is mostly concentrated on a civilized, healthy environment, and biophilia. The inhabitants need to be able to control air quality, thermal and visual comfort through windows that can be opened. In order to fulfill the biophilia standard, the design needs to be inspired from the elements of nature, helping create the human-nature connection.

The most consistent request of the Living Building Challenge is the one related to Materials, by recognizing and using strictly materials safe for all species in the long term. Thus, a Red List has been constructed, together with a document that inventories safe products – Declare, initiated by the Living Future Institute. Also in the Materials section, the reduction of carbon footprint, the local procurement of materials, the use of responsible industries and a waste recycling and reuse plan are included among the requirements.

Regarding Equity, the Living Building Challenge certified construction needs to be accessible for all social classes, maintaining an equitable life standard, to establish a proportional relation between the human scale and that of the building, all the while ensuring the right to nature, natural lighting and visual comfort for the inhabitants and the surrounding buildings. The Beauty Petal brings up discussions on the education and inspiration of future projects through esthetics and the harmonious integration of the project.

Currently there are 4 Living Building Challenge certified buildings worldwide, with another 40 registerd. Romania applies to this certification with 3 projects initiated by the Romania Green Building Council, who starting February 2011 has been a Living Building Challenge Ambassador. The three projects registered for certification are ecoBiblioteca, The Calnic Project and the RoGBC headquarters.

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