Building codes specify minimum standards for the construction of buildings. The codes themselves are not legally binding - they are just "models" for legal jurisdictions to utilize when developing statutes and regulations to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures.
Better buildings - and a healthier environment - do not happen without careful planning and execution. Quality control and advanced resources offered by building science institutes offer the potential to radically improve the quality of life enjoyed by occupants of buildings, as well as improve their environmental and economic performance.
The Living Building Challenge is a philosophy, certification, and advocacy tool for projects to move beyond merely being less bad and to become truly regenerative.
The past decade has seen relatively small progress toward addressing global climate change. We are reaching a point where the next decade will see change to our ecosystem health, fresh water supplies and climates at unprecedented levels. Every single major ecological system is in decline, and the rate of that decline is increasing. Global temperature increases mean shifting rainfall distributions, acidified oceans and potentially catastrophic sea-level rise. Nothing less than a sea change in building, infrastructure and community design is required. Indeed, this focus needs to be the great work of our generation. We must remake our cities, towns, neighborhoods, homes and offices, and all the spaces and infrastructure in between. This is part of the necessary process of reinventing our relationship with the natural world and each other - reestablishing ourselves as not separate from, but part of nature, because the living environment is what really sustains us.
The Living Building Challenge consists of seven performance categories, or “Petals”...
Each Petal - Place, Water, Energy, Health + Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty - is subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives in the Challenge. The 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.
The Living Building Challenge is versatile and applies to different project scopes, or Typologies:
Two Principals of the Living Building Challenge:
Passive building comprises a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable comfort level. "Optimize your gains and losses" based on climate summarizes the approach. To that end, a passive building is designed and built in accordance with these five building-science principles:
Passive building principles can be applied to all building typologies – from single-family homes to multifamily apartment buildings, offices, and skyscrapers.
Passive design strategy carefully models and balances a comprehensive set of factors including heat emissions from appliances and occupants to keep the building at comfortable and consistent indoor temperatures throughout the heating and cooling seasons. As a result, passive buildings offer tremendous long-term benefits in addition to energy efficiency:
The WELL Building Standard is an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being.
Launched in 2014 after six years of research and development, the WELL Building Standard is the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness. WELL was developed by integrating scientific and medical research and literature on environmental health, behavioral factors, health outcomes and demographic risk factors that affect health with leading practices in building design, construction and management.
The WELL Building Standard underwent a comprehensive expert peer review process, which included three phases - scientific, practitioner and medical review. WELL Certification and the WELL AP credentialing program are third-party administered through IWBI’s collaboration with Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI).
RESET targets the environmental health of occupants, starting with people and indoor air quality.
Indoor air quality changes continuously as buildings are pressurized and depressurized by mechanical systems, as ventilation, heating, and cooling power up and down and as occupant activity impacts CO2, CO, Particulate Matter and VOCs (chemical gases). The building industry is entering a new era in which buildings are becoming responsive to these changes and performance is tracked in real-time.
RESET™ Air is the world’s first sensor-based and performance-driven, indoor air quality building standard and certification program. It requires continuous monitoring so that data can be communicated to project occupants through mobile devices, or other visual displays. The quality of sensors, their installation, calibration and reporting methodology are of critical importance.
RESET™ Air sets standards for monitor performance, density and location of installation, calibration, reporting methodology and overall project performance.
Better buildings equal better lives.
We believe green buildings are the foundation of something bigger: helping people, and the communities and cities they reside in—safely, healthily and sustainably thrive. The heart of our green building community’s efforts must go well beyond construction and efficiency, and the materials that make up our buildings. We must dig deeper and focus on what matters most within those buildings: human beings.
Every single human being on the planet should have safe and healthy places to live, work, learn and play. Leading long and healthy lives is not a privilege—it’s a right for everyone. Shouldn’t the places where we spend 90% of our time support our health and well being? Improved health and productivity benefits are playing a larger role than ever before in driving companies to invest in green building.
SITES-certified landscapes help reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health and increase outdoor recreation opportunities.
SITES is a sustainability-focused framework that ushers landscape architects, engineers and others toward practices that protect ecosystems and enhance the mosaic of benefits they continuously provide our communities, such as climate regulation, carbon storage and flood mitigation. SITES is the culmination of years of research and development by leading professionals in the fields of soil, water, vegetation, materials and human health.