The Living Building Challenge is a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy “that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and the end-game positive solutions we seek,” according to its website.
Over the past few months, the glass industry has had a hand in helping buildings earn Living Building certification—particularly thanks to PPG Industries. Most recently, just three weeks ago, the Bullitt Center in Seattle earned Living Building certification. The 52,000-square-foot building stakes its claim as “the world’s greenest office building” and features PPG’s Solarban 60 solar control, low-E glass. That came on the heels of PPG announcing that the Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh had become the second building constructed with PPG glass to meet the rigorous green design and construction standard.
Solarban 60 glass also is glazed on the Energy Lab at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Kameula, Hawaii, which earned certification, as well.
“We are honored that PPG’s advanced low-E glasses have been specified for nearly half of the world’s certified living buildings,” says Glenn T. Miner, PPG director of construction, flat glass. “We know from first-hand experience that these buildings require an extraordinary amount of input and collaboration from teams of talented people. The same is true of today’s sophisticated low-E glasses. They have made glass integral to sustainable building – and a sustainable planet – because they have the exclusive ability among building materials to transmit daylight, block solar heat and help architects connect buildings to their communities.”
The Challenge is comprised of seven performance categories called “Petals”: place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity and beauty. Petals are subdivided into a total of 20 imperatives. “This compilation of imperatives can be applied to almost every conceivable building project, of any scale and any location—be it a new building or an existing structure,” according to the International Living Future Institute.
The 3.0 version of the challenge, which went into place last May, places a greater emphasis on the importance of resilient infrastructure, and it stresses that the challenge is a tool for “regenerative design,” meaning it is not a net-neutral program, but a net-positive one. The new version also integrates an “Equity Exchange program,” and the neighborhood typology in 2.1 has converted to the Living Community Challenge.
Finally, version 3.0 expanded its “Red List,” and its materials nutrition label, called Declare, is now directly connected to the Living Building Challenge.
Seven buildings and a park are now fully certified under the challenge. Six others are certified under the institute’s Petal program, and 12 more are certified in the institute’s Net Zero Energy category.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, LEED, the most widely used green building standard in the world, announced it will now recognize energy and water requirements from the Living Building Challenge green building system within the LEED green building program.
“[U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)] and the International Living Future Institute, developers of the Living Building Challenge, share a common commitment and goal to transform the way we design, build and operate our buildings,” says Scot Horst, chief product officer, USGBC. “The Challenge plays an important role on the green building performance curve and is a complement to LEED.”
He adds, “The LEED steering committee approved this approach; in the world of rating systems there is a sense of competition between systems, and what we’re saying is that what matters is that people are doing good environmental work. We want to focus on them and create harmonization between systems.”