World’s First Certified Living Buildings

Yesterday the International Living Building Institute completed third-party certification audits and announced the world’s first Living Buildings. The Living Building Challenge is the strictest green building rating system ever devised, and after a year of auditing the performance of the buildings, 3 have been certified.

According to the Living Building Challenge standards, a Living Building must generate all its energy through clean renewable sources, capture & treat all wastewater through ecologically sustainable processes, use non-toxic and local materials, operate efficiently and with maximum natural beauty.

The Living Building Challenge is comprised of seven performance areas, or ‘Petals’: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Petals are subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence. More details are available from ILBI’s website.

The Omega Center for Sustainable Living in New York and the Tyson Living Learning Center in Missouri both earned full certification, while Eco-Sense, a residential project here in Victoria BC that began construction prior to the establishment of the Living Building Challenge, earned Petal Recognition for meeting four of the six petals.

From the ILBI website:

Tyson provides: a landscape-scale experimental venue for studies on ecosystem sustainability; an outdoor laboratory for important research and teaching opportunities from Washington University and other institutions; and research and educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students related to the environment and sustainability. “One of the most rewarding aspects of receiving Living Building Certification is that it formally recognizes the exceptional commitment it took to complete this project. From design and construction through over 16 months of commissioning and performance monitoring, achieving this goal required the full dedication of everyone involved in the project.”   – Kevin G. Smith, Associate Director, Tyson Research Center

Omega provide innovative educational experiences that awaken the best in the human spirit.  The Center for Sustainable Living is a wastewater filtration facility that is designed to use the treated water for garden irrigation and in a greywater recovery system, Omega will use the system and building as a teaching tool in their educational program designed around the ecological impact of their campus. “Omega is thrilled to have crossed the finish line, and hopeful that projects like ours will mark a new era in sustainable design, one that reflects a truly integrated approach to creating built environments that are in harmony with the natural world.” – Skip Backus, CEO at Omega

ECOSENSE Victoria, British Columbia
The creation of Eco-Sense was the dream of Ann and Gord Baird to build a sustainable home for their three-generation family of six. A home that functions as a part of the eco-system where there is no line that separates where the dwelling ends and where nature begins. “Imagine working on a project where the only emissions generated came from human breath.  The positive examples set by our home have inspired many others to build in similar ways or to incorporate aspects of Eco-Sense into their existing homes.” – Ann Baird, Owner

Living Building Challenge: a proven strategy for reclaiming the built environment – ILBI

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Steve holds a degree in Environmental Engineering Technology from Humber College in Toronto, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He currently lives in Victoria BC and works as a green building consultant specializing in residential projects.


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