Written By Ann Marie Aguilar, Associate Director, Arup Associates This article was published in Architecture Today Magazine, July issue.
Imagine a building designed and constructed to function as efficiently as a flower, informed by its local environmental characteristics, generates all of its own energy with renewable resources, captures and treats all of its own water, and can prove it operates efficiently.
In sustainability terms, doing less bad is just not good enough anymore.
The building codes, green rating tools and high performance buildings are minimizing the negative environmental impact but still stops short of making a net positive contribution. The LBC poses a challenge to all design professionals, contractors and building owners to create a foundation for a sustainable future in the fabric of our communities. Rating Tools still have a place in our industry but how we work with them is up to us. In the words of the founder, Jason McLennan, "the challenge is successful because it satisfies our left brain craving for order and thresholds and our right brain intuition that the focus needs to be on our relationship and understanding of the whole of life."
Since the late 1990's we have experienced the influence of Sustainability Rating Tools, like LEED and BREEAM, in moving the construction industry forward at a significant pace. It was an important awakening for designers, contractors and suppliers. By 2010 the impact of the global financial crisis feels as if it has stalled that sense of progress in
sustainability. We have become too complacent; we have learned how to manipulate the tools to achieve the badges by going after the "lowest hanging fruit" and not stretching beyond our comfort zone in terms of cost and program.
The LBC challenge is comprised of seven performance categories; Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. These are subdivided into 20 imperatives in total. All of the 20 imperatives are mandatory. The real challenge is how these 20 imperatives are achieved. Typically that is where our 3rd party group like the USGBC or the BRE comes in so they can provide the external verification that the credit criteria have been met. With the Living Building Challenge the solution to prove the imperatives have been met is up to the design teams, owners and occupants through an on-going dialogue with the International Living Futures Institute. The dialogue produces an ever changing landscape of solutions evolving from the dialogues created by project teams in their pursuit of meeting the 20 imperatives.
Our industry needs a Challenge...."The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a Philosophy, Certification and Advocacy tool for projects to move beyond merely being less bad and to become truly regenerative." The discussion of less bad is worth a pause.
Ann Marie Aguilar is an Associate Director and Sustainable Design Specialist with Arup Associates. Her focus is about improving human experience in the built environment and the opportunities to instil "Wellness in the Workplace".
She is a passionate advocate of the impact of Space Design on Human Behaviour & Performance having recently taken part in an 18 month research project with the RIBA, Royal Academy of Engineering and DCLG on that topic. Ann Marie has recently achieved WELL Accredited Professional (AP) Accreditation from the International Well Building Institute (IWBI), based in Washington DC. Ann Marie is the first WELL Accredited Professional (AP) outside of the USA.
Since joining the practice she has been involved in the coordination and development of the Arup LEED Consultancy business in the UKMEA region. She has created LEED framework agreements with many of our global clients including Citibank and Deutsche Bank. Ann Marie has developed an extensive portfolio in the USA and globally. Projects range in scale from campus size to small city developments; identifying a clear sustainability vision for the project followed my objectives and measurable targets.