The Living Building Challenge- Winner of the 2012 Buckminster-Fuller Challenge

Green building and eco-sensitive design is currently at the forefront of our modern ethos.   What this means for the green builders, contractors and architects of NY, and the world, is a period of dramatic change and challenge is ahead if not already begun. A change in the way we think about new buildings and construction, in how we consider “used” materials and how we use and interact with space.

As Scholar David Orr stated-

“We are coming to an era the likes of which we’ve never seen before, we’re in the white waters of human history. We don’t know what lies ahead. Bucky Fuller’s ideas on design are at the core of any set of solutions that will take us to calmer waters.”

 

One of the most prominent voices in sustainability and responsible design since the 1960’s is R. Buckminster Fuller.  Fuller pioneered in fields from architecture, and mathematics, to engineering and automobile design and only patented 12 designs allowing the vast majority of his work to be open-sourced and free to the public.

His life’s mission and philosophy was simple, “to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone.”

Even today, years after Fuller’s death his name is still the vanguard of the sustainable design community. The largest testament to his legacy is the R. Buckminster Fuller Institute and their annual international competition the Buckminster Fuller Design Challenge.

According to the institution’s website $100,000 is given “…to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. Named “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award” by Metropolis Magazine, it attracts bold, visionary, tangible initiatives focused on a well-defined need of critical importance. Winning solutions are regionally specific yet globally applicable and present a truly comprehensive, anticipatory, integrated approach to solving the world’s complex problems.”

In 2012 at an awards ceremony held here in NYC at Cooper Union The International Living Future Institute was awarded first prize for their “Living Building Challenge” initiative.  According to the institute’s website the Living building Challenge is:

-a PHILOSOPHY, ADVOCACY PLATFORM AND CERTIFICATION PROGRAM. Because it defines priorities on both a technical level and as a set of core values, it is engaging the broader building industry in the deep conversations required to truly understand how to solve problems rather than shift them.

-an EVOCATIVE GUIDE. By identifying an ideal and positioning that ideal as the indicator of success, the Challenge inspires project teams to reach decisions based on restorative principles instead of searching for ‘least common denominator’ solutions. This approach brings project teams closer to the objectives we are collectively working to achieve.

-a BEACON. With a goal to increase awareness, it is tackling critical environmental, social and economic problems, such as: the rise of persistent toxic chemicals; climate change; habitat loss; the collapse of domestic manufacturing; global trade imbalances; urban sprawl; and the lack of community distinctiveness.

-a ‘UNIFIED TOOL’. Addressing development at all scales, it can be equally applied to landscape and infrastructure projects; partial renovations and complete building renewals; new building construction; and neighborhood, campus and community design.

-a PERFORMANCE-BASED STANDARD. Decidedly not a checklist of best practices, the Challenge leads teams to embrace regional solutions and respond to a number of variables, including climate factors and cultural characteristics.

-a VISIONARY PATH TO A RESTORATIVE FUTURE

The challenge seeks to encourage designers to bridge the gap between the built environment and the surrounding ecosystems thus reinventing the typical developers’ business model and transforming the role of the building occupant from passive to more of an involved partnership with the earth and her resources.

For all manner of development the Living Building Principles are applicable, whether, “… a single building, a park, a college campus or even a complete neighborhood community, Living Building Challenge provides a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment.”

You can download a complete document that outlines the specific requirements and benchmarks that must be met to receive certification HERE.

With its radical and rigorous requirements, this is more than “green washing”.  This is an excerpt from a statement released by The Fuller Institute after the award ceremony;

“The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is setting the standard for how to build in the 21st century by establishing the highest bar yet for environmental performance and ecological responsibility within the built environment … by “building a new model” and establishing new benchmarks for non-­‐toxic, net-­‐zero structures… The Living Building Challenge goes far beyond current best practices, reframing the relationship between the built and natural environments. LBC seeks to lead the charge toward a holistic standard that could yield an entirely new level of integration between building systems, transportation, technology, natural resources, and community. If widely adopted, this approach would significantly enhance the level of broad-­‐based social collaboration throughout the design and building process and beyond, dramatically reducing the destructiveness of current construction, boost the livability, health, and resilience of communities … the International Future Living Institute is charting a new and critically needed course in an industry that arguably remains one of the most consumptive … The LBC’s model of regenerative design in the built environment could provide a critical leverage point in the roadmap to a sustainable future and is an exemplary trim tab in its potential to catalyze innovation in such a high impact, high consumption industry…”

This is a valuable new asset and tool for the green building and green contracting community in NYC nd abroad in the fight for a greener and livable tomorrow.

 

https://ilbi.org/lbc  -living building challenge website

http://challenge.bfi.org/Winners/Challenge_Winners

http://bfi.org/  -Buckminster-fuller institute website

Letter from Rick Fedrizzi – CEO, President and Founding Chair, USGBC

Dear USGBC Constituents:

In recent weeks, a wave of fear and pessimism propagated by the world financial crisis has stolen the headlines, gripped the nation, and challenged our movement. In conversation after conversation, people are asking what will happen to the green building movement if our community is plunged into a recession.

And I have an answer for them. The greed that led the world economy into crisis will not defeat our commitment to good work. Fear will not dominate our agenda. And our commitment to change – even in the face of so great a challenge – will not waver.

Change doesn’t wait on Washington. And it doesn’t depend on Wall Street. Change comes from within. The green building movement has been demonstrating that fact for more than 15 years. Before there was a single government green building policy, before the business community stood up and took notice, before there was a LEED – there was you. Thousands upon thousands of committed individuals dedicated to doing better by doing good. You’ve built this movement. You’re building sustainable communities. And every single one of us has a contribution to make towards pulling our country out of this crisis.

We cannot lose sight of our mission. It is within reach.

How? It’s time for the green building movement to deploy the expertise and capacity we’ve built in new construction to green what we’ve already got. Ninety-nine percent of achieving our mission is wrapped up in our existing homes and buildings. It will save money. It will save energy. It will help save our climate. And directly relevant to today’s economic environment, it will create good, green, local jobs. As just one example, USGBC estimates that a 100% commitment to greening existing commercial buildings alone would create more than 1.5 million new opportunities for employment for out of work Americans.

In four weeks, we will meet together at Greenbuild. And when you get to Boston, we will celebrate everything that your individual commitments have accomplished so far. We’ll enjoy the fellowship of more than 20,000 friends and colleagues who share our vision for a sustainable future. And we will keep moving forward, together. I’ll see you there.

With gratitude,

U.S. Green Building Council S. Rick Fedrizzi
CEO, President and Founding Chair,
USGBC

$700 Billion Bailout has $17 Billion for Energy Tax Incentives

This Bush bailout fiasco which in many ways is a total con actually has at least one good side: it earmarks $17 Billion is tax incentives for green building. A tax incentive is no use if you aren’t making enough money to actually pay taxes of course, so for many people a tax incentive is a useless thing.

But for those who do need more tax write offs these incentives are twofold benefits. They help you pay less taxes and they allow you to get better buildings.

Below is the announcement from the USGBC Advocacy & Policy Update:

President Signs into Law Financial Rescue Package with Long-Awaited Extensions of Vital Energy Tax Incentives

Following a tense week of congressional negotiations and votes, the President signed into law on Friday a $700 billion financial rescue bill that also includes $17 billion in energy tax incentives, including extensions of several provisions that have already expired or were set to expire at year’s end. The energy tax package followed a long and winding road to enactment, having been jettisoned from the energy law in December and having become the subject of an ongoing debate in the House and Senate about whether and how to specify a funding source for the provisions. USGBC monitored and pressed for extensions of these vital tax incentives for more than a year, and celebrates their passage as an essential victory that will ensure continued investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Among other energy provisions, the new law contains several tax incentives that promise to advance greener, more energy-efficient buildings, including:

* a 1-year extension of the tax credit for the production of energy from wind, and a two-year extension of the credit for energy production from other renewable sources, such as geothermal;
* an 8-year extension of the tax credits for investment in commercial and residential solar projects, including the removal of the $2,000 cap on investments in residential solar electric installations, and the addition of small wind energy and geothermal heat pump projects as qualifying installations for tax credits;
* a 5-year extension of the tax deduction for energy-efficient commercial buildings;
* a 1-year extension of the tax credit for the construction of new energy-efficient homes;
* a 1-year extension of the tax credit for qualified energy-efficiency upgrades to existing homes;
* an extension through 2010 of the tax credit for the manufacture of energy-efficient appliances;
* and a 3-year extension of the authority for state and localities to issue tax-exempt bonds for green building and sustainable design projects.

For a summary of the tax provisions in the new law, click here.

» For the full text of the law, click here.

Eco Brooklyn is a member of the US Green Building Council

I think it is important to be part of organizations like the US Green Building Council. They are the guys behind LEED certification. All I had to do was pay $300….and anybody can become a member.

The money goes towards the good work they are doing. There are chapter organizations and other benefits which increases my exposure to other green minded businesses. I am happy I did it. It a little like getting a subscription to a magazin3e. It increases you activity in a certain area.

Some cynics point out that any crappy company can become a member to greenwash their image. True. But who cares. At least they paid money to the organization which helps in other ways.