Why Designers and Architects Are Pushing for Living Building Challenge Homes

by Carson BuckNovember 5, 2018

Architecture Beyond Green

You may not know much about green architecture or green building techniques, but you probably have some idea of the need for us citizens to move toward more sustainable building practices and more sustainable ways of living. Buildings and their construction are two things we can do better, with greater care for their environmental impact.

As a result, there are many movements and organizations that are trying to address this very need. One such organization is the Living Building Challenge from the International Living Future Institute. It’s a “green building certification program and sustainable design framework” that attempts to answer, “What might an ideal building design look like from an environmental perspective, taking into account materials, energy use, and many other factors in its evaluation of completed construction projects?”

high-tech, green building

How Living Building Challenge Works

The core principle of the Living Building Challenge is that an ideal, constructed building should work as efficiently and as cleanly “as a flower.” It’s a framework that attempts to provide guidelines for building construction that allow for the future of the building’s inhabitants and the environment surrounding it.

The Living Building Challenge is driving the design and construction of buildings that ideally make connections between the building’s occupants and light, food, nature, air, and the surrounding community.


For a building to be Living Building Challenge-certified, it must create more energy than it uses through various renewable energy technologies, while collecting and treating all the water it uses at the building’s site. In this way, a living building actually produces more than it takes from its surrounding environment. Some cooperative solutions with surrounding properties or buildings are allowed, but this is the basic core requirement.

A building constructed with living-building principles giving back more to the energy grid than they take, and don’t add to the wastewater treatment stream. They do this while existing as a part of their natural environment. There are many specific requirements for each type of building, and buildings are evaluated on these requirements over a twelve-month stretch of time (after their construction is complete).

blue sky
image via: Living Future

Climate Change and the Need for Living Buildings

With so much bad news regarding climate change bombarding us from every conceivable news source, it can seem like there’s not much we can do to effectively change course and reverse the rise in global temperatures. But this simply isn’t true.

As a global society, we can do better to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, curbing our reliance on fossil fuels, and reigning in our wasting of fresh water. Many say that building greener living buildings is one step toward changing courses before climate change spins further out of control.

Imagine a world in which every building produced more energy than it used and treated all of its own wastewater on site, using green technologies. The Living Building Challenge is driving architects, building designers, and contractors toward that future.

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About The Author
Carson Buck
Carson is a real estate agent based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Carson loves data and market research, and how readily available it is in today's world. He is passionate about interpreting these insights to help his clients find and buy their perfect home. Carson got into the real estate industry because he loves the feeling of handing over the keys to a new home to happy clients. In his free time, he works on his backyard bonsai garden and spends time with his wife, Julia.