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The Living Building Challenge

In Pursuit of True Sustainability in the Built Environment

Draft Version 1.2

April 2007

The Living Building Challenge - copyright 2006 - Cascadia Region Green Building Council, all rights

The Living Building Challenge is a copyrighted document and program owned solely by the Cascadia
Region Green Building Council (CRGBC). No modifications to this document may be created nor
elements of this document used out of existing context without prior written consent. No building or
project may claim to reach ‘Living Building Status’ without review and approval by the CRGBC.

The CRGBC grants substantial limited uses in order to encourage a wide distribution. These uses in-
clude the following:

• This particular document may be printed and distributed in it’s entirety by any organization for the
purposes of education or to attempt to qualify for the challenge- although this is not true for the
User’s Guide or other documents unless expressly specified.

• The tool may be e-mailed in pdf form only - without any modifications made, to any individual or
organization for the purposes of education or to attempt to qualify for the challenge.

• The tool may be posted on websites in its entirety and unmodified in pdf form for the purpose of
education or to encourage people to adopt or qualify for the challenge.

Use of this tool in any form implies acceptance of these conditions. Cascadia reserves the right to modify
and update the Living Building Challenge at its discretion and organizations posting or dis-tributing copies
are asked to use the latest version.


The Living Building Challenge was authored and conceived by Jason F. McLennan prior to joining
the Cascadia Region Green Building Council. McLennan now serves as the Principal Investigator
overseeing the development of the standard and associated tools.
Table of Contents
The Living Building Challenge .............................................3
Executive Summary.................................................................................... 3
How The Living Building Standard Works .................................................. 5

Site Design .............................................................................7

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents ....................................... 7
Ideal and Current Limitations...................................................................... 7
Prerequisites............................................................................................... 7
Compliance/Documentation ....................................................................... 8

Energy ....................................................................................9
Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents ....................................... 9
Ideal and Current Limitations...................................................................... 9
Prerequisites............................................................................................... 9
Compliance/Documentation ....................................................................... 9

Materials ...............................................................................10
Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents ..................................... 10
Ideal and Current Limitations.................................................................... 10
Compliance/Documentation ..................................................................... 13

Water .....................................................................................14
Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents ..................................... 14
Ideal and Current Limitations.................................................................... 14
Prerequisites............................................................................................. 14
Compliance/Documentation ..................................................................... 14

Indoor Environmental Quality ............................................15

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents ..................................... 15
Ideal and Current Limitations.................................................................... 15
Prerequisites............................................................................................. 15
Compliance/Documentation ..................................................................... 16

Beauty & Inspiration............................................................17

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents ..................................... 17
Ideal and Current Limitations.................................................................... 17
Prerequisites............................................................................................. 17
Compliance/Documentation ..................................................................... 17

Next Steps and Protocol .....................................................18

How to Get Involved ................................................................................. 18

Appendix ..............................................................................19
Background History .................................................................................. 19
The Cascadia Region Green Building Council ......................................... 19

Summary of Prerequisites ..................................................20

Current Development Team - TBD ........................................................... 21


© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge User’s Guide
page 1
Imagine buildings that are built to operate as elegantly
and efficiently as a flower. Imagine a building that is
informed by the eco-region’s characteristics and
• that generates all of its own energy with renewable
• that captures and treats all of its water on site
• that uses resources efficiently, and for maximum
The Cascadia Region Green Building Council
(Cascadia) has issued a challenge to all building
owners, architects, engineers and design professionals
to build in a way that will provide all of us and our
children with a sustainable future.

It is time to
move beyond
Platinum to
the level of the
Living Building.
The Living Building Challenge
Executive Summary
No credits, just prerequisites.

The Living Building Challenge is attempting to raise the bar and define a closer
measure of true sustainability in the built environment, at least as far as what is currently
possible and given the best knowledge available today. Projects that achieve this level
of performance can claim to be the ‘greenest’ in North America and as close to true
sustainability as currently possible.

When LEED emerged in the late nineties, it filled a huge void in the marketplace as
designers all over the country were trying to understand how to effectively define
green building and measure it in a consistent way. Even though the tool was far from
perfect, it quickly blossomed and did more for the green building market than anything
previously conceived. When the Platinum level was defined it was immediately viewed
as the highest level of environmental performance possible by many and, indeed, it is a
significant achievement to attain the Platinum level under the current system. And yet,
Platinum is not the highest level possible but rather it was chosen based on what was
likely possible at the time of the tool creation. Several things have transpired in the short
time since LEED 1.0 emerged that put the Living Building Standard in context:

1. LEED has been adopted at a far greater rate than anyone’s expectations and has
begun to transform the whole building industry. LEED has continued to evolve and
improve and many municipalities have adopted LEED Silver as a baseline standard.

2. Multiple Platinum Buildings have emerged around the country and some with zero
or small first-cost premiums, signaling that the market is ready to move beyond
Platinum in the near future.

3. The USGBC has begun to explore the idea of LEED V3.0 as a major restructuring
of how its system works. The specifics have not yet been determined and the
implementation timeline is likely another one to two years.

4. Zero energy and zero waste water buildings are beginning to emerge around the
country and the cost of wind, solar and other sustainable technologies continue to
drop just as it is becoming clear that we are past the point of peak oil and cheap
energy. Carbon neutral construction of buildings will no doubt follow.

5. Most significantly, it is clear that major environmental trends such as climate change
are directly linked to human resource use and from the building industry itself.
The rate of change and potential disastrous scenarios for our communities and
quality of life are increasing. It is also clear that public opinion is finally awakening
to that reality as evidenced by the shift in mass media attention of the issue, the
Clinton Climate Initiative, the Mayor’s Climate Initiative, the 2030 challenge and
governmental efforts led by the State of California.

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 3
Because of these issues, Cascadia feels compelled to release The Living Building
Challenge to provide a signal to the green building industry where it needs to head in the
next few years if we are to address the daunting challenges ahead. Cascadia views this
Living Building Standard as an act of optimism and faith in the marketplace to reach high-
level goals once they have been set. Cascadia believes that the Living Building Standard
described here will be met in the Cascadia bio-region and elsewhere within the next three
years, with increasing numbers of Living Buildings appearing within the next five years.

This standard is in no way meant to compete with LEED and the USGBC or the CaGBC.
The Cascadia Green Building Council, as a chapter, views this document as support
for the USGBC and CaGBC’s goals by setting a new vision and as a way of raising the
bar. It is our sincere hope that as the V.3 vision unfolds, the ideas put forth in our Living
Building Standard will influence outcomes for greater environmental benefit and true
sustainability. Perhaps the result could be an ‘automatic platinum’ or ‘Platinum-Plus’
rating – or simply that a Living Building level just gets added above the Platinum level.1

At the heart of the Living Building Challenge is the belief that our society needs to move
quickly to a state of balance between the natural and built environments. Although
highly difficult to achieve, understanding and documenting compliance with our system is
inherently easy. No credits to count, models to create and large paperwork to compile.
Just sixteen simple and profound prerequisites that must be met.

Concentric Sustainability Rings2

1 Perhaps in the future we will be able to define a level even higher than the Living Building- a truly
restorative level.
2 Image courtesy of BNIM Architects

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 4
How The Living Building Standard Works
not what you are going to do.... but what you did
not less bad.... but good

The purpose of the Living Building Challenge is simple – to define the highest measure
of sustainability possible in the built environment based on the best current thinking-
recognizing that ‘true sustainability’ is not yet possible. The Living Building is by
definition difficult to obtain, and yet all facets of this tool have been attained in numerous
projects around the world – just not all together. With this standard Cascadia hopes to
encourage dialogue on where the building industry needs to head and engender support
for the first pilot projects, until more and more living buildings emerge.

The rules are simple:

1. There are no credits – just prerequisites.

2. There are 16 prerequisites and all must be met to comply.

3. Many of the prerequisites have “exceptions” that show up in the footnotes and
that are intended to acknowledge market realities. The Standard needs to be
challenging – but not impossible to obtain.

Some useful guiding information:

• This new standard is an evolving tool and specific rules on how to document
compliance and to seek living building designation will be presented in The Living
Building User’s Guide, which will be based specifically around what a project has The “petals” to the Living Building Challenge
done – not what it likely will do. A project cannot get a rating before it is completed
and operating for at least a year.

• Over time, as market realities change, some exceptions noted in this document will
be removed.

• The Living Building is performance based, not prescriptive and for the most part
does not concern itself with how prerequisites are met, which should be the domain
of the design team and owner.

• The Living Building does not dwell on basic best practice issues so, unlike LEED,
it does not have to focus on so many things. It is assumed that to achieve this high
level standard, typical best practices are being met.3

3 We highly encourage projects that cannot make the Living Building Standard to pursue a LEED Platinum
or Gold rating since LEED remains the market’s premier rating system.

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 5
• The internal logic of the tool is based on pragmatic experience on what has been
built in the marketplace. As hard as it may seem to achieve – it is achievable.

• The standard will work for existing buildings as well as for new buildings. Specific
modifications for existing buildings will be defined in this document or the User’s

• The Living Building Standard works for any building type since it is performance
based and therefore based on absolute performance. As a result, the strategies to
achieve it will vary widely by building type, which is appropriate.

It should be noted that ease of achieving the standard will vary by a number of factors
including different climate locations and building types. For example, becoming
water-independent in the desert means “evolving” building design to be more like a
cactus and less like a tree. Making a 30-story building energy independent will require
great investments in efficiency and a building skin that is all about harnessing energy.
Architecture will be richer because of it.

The internal logic of the tool is based on

pragmatic experience on what has been
built in the marketplace. As hard as it may
seem to achieve – it is achievable.

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 6
Site Design
Humanity has co-opted enough land - it is time to draw boundaries and declare it

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents

The continued outward spread of development and sprawl threatens the few wild places
that remain. The decentralized nature of our communities increases transportation
impacts and pollution. As flat, easy-to-build-on land diminishes, more and more
development tends to occur in sensitive areas that are easily harmed or destroyed.
Invasive species threaten existing ecosystems, which are already weakened by the
constant pressure of development. The intent of these prerequisites is to clearly
articulate where it is acceptable to build and how to protect and restore a place once it
has been developed and degraded.

Ideal and Current Limitations

The ideal is to stop the seemingly never-ending growth outward and focus it into
compact, connected communities, which is an inherent conservation tool for the natural
resource systems that support human health. As previously built-on land is restored, the
trend is reversed and nature’s functions are invited back into a healthy interface with the
built environment.

Prerequisite One – Responsible Site Selection
You may not build on the following locations;

• Within 50-feet of Wetlands4

• On or adjacent to Sensitive Ecological Habitats5 such as Primary Dunes6, Old

Growth Forest7, virgin prairie8.

4 Unless the building’s purpose is related to wetland protection or interpretation.

5 Sensitive Ecological Habitats will be defined in the User’s Guide.
6 Unless the building’s purpose is related to primary dune protection or interpretation and demonstrates
that the site’s ecological systems are not disturbed.
7 Unless the building’s purpose is related to forest protection or interpretation and demonstrates that the
site’s ecological systems are not disturbed.
8 Unless the building’s purpose is related to prairie protection or interpretation and demonstrates that the
site ecological systems are not disturbed.

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 7
• Prime farmland9

• Within the 100 year flood plain10

Prerequisite Two – Limits to Growth

Projects may only be built on previously developed sites, either greyfield or brownfield.11

Prerequisite Three - Habitat Exchange

For each acre of development, an equal amount of land must be set aside as part of a
habitat exchange12.

Compliance is outlined in the Living Building User’s Guide.

9 Unless the building is related to farming or is a working farm/farmhouse.

10 Unless part of an existing urban core where significant density exists.
11 Unless the building purpose is related to the protection or interpretation of the virgin land.
12 A list of acceptable habitat exchange programs will be provided in the User’s Guide. Credit will be given
for brownfield reclamation.

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 8
A living building relies solely on current solar income.

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents

The majority of energy generated today is from unsustainable sources including
coal, gas, oil and nuclear energy. Large-scale hydro, while inherently cleaner, brings
widespread damaging ecosystem impact. The effects of these energy sources on
regional and planetary health is becoming more and more evident, with climate change
being the most worrisome of major global trends due to human activity. The intent of
this prerequisite is to signal a new age of design, whereby all buildings rely solely on
renewable forms of energy and operate year in and year out in a pollution-free manner.
Since renewable energy sources are inherently more expensive than energy efficiency
measures, efficiency as a first step is assumed.

Ideal and Current Limitations

The ideal is simple - a safe, reliable decentralized power grid relying completely on
renewable energy powering incredibly efficient buildings. The major limitation currently is

Prerequisite Four – Net Zero Energy13
100 percent of the building’s energy needs supplied by on-site renewable energy14 on a
net annual basis.

Compliance is outlined in the forthcoming Living Building User’s Guide.

13 Must include all electricity, heating and cooling requirements. Back-up generators are excluded. System
may be grid-tied or off the grid.
14 Renewable energy is defined as photovoltaics, wind turbines, water-powered microturbines, methane
from composting only, direct geothermal or fuel cells powered by hydrogen generated from renewably
powered electrolysis.

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 9
Safe, healthy and responsible for all species.

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents

The environmental issues surrounding materials are numerous and include health
and toxicity, embodied energy, pollution and resource depletion. The intent of these
prerequisites are to remove, from a health standpoint, the worst known offending
materials, and to reduce and offset the environmental impacts associated with the
construction process. At the present time it is impossible to gauge the true environmental
impact and toxicity of the buildings we build.

Ideal and Current Limitations

The ideal is a future where all materials in the built environment are safe and
replenishable and have no negative impact on human and ecosystem health. The
precautionary principle guides our materials decisions.

There are significant limitations to achieving the level of the Living Building in the
materials realm. The biggest limitation is due to the market itself. While there are a
huge number of “green” products on the market, there is a shortage of good data that
really backs up manufacturer claims and provides consumers with the ability to make
conscious, informed choices. Cascadia recognizes the PHAROS15 protocol developed
by the Healthy Building Network as the best framework for evaluating sustainable
materials and the most progressive tool for consumer benefit. Projects are encouraged
to eliminate all known persistent bio-accumulative toxins (PBT’s), carcinogens and
reproductive toxicants.16

15 www.Pharos.net
16 For more information see: http://www.healthybuilding.net/healthcare/HCWH-CHD-POP_PBT_list.pdf
and http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65.html

At the present time it is impossible to gauge

the true environmental impact and toxicity
of the buildings we build.

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 10
Prerequisite Five – Materials Red List17
The project cannot contain any of the following red list materials or chemicals.

• No added formaldehyde

• Halogenated Flame Retardants18

• PVC19

• Mercury20

• CFC’s

• HCFC’s

• Neoprene (chloroprene)

• Cadmium

• Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethlene21

• Wood treatments containing Creosote, Arsenic or Pentachlorophenol

• Polyurethane

• Lead22

• Phthalates

17 Cascadia is going to adopt an ongoing ‘red-list’ of materials that it believes should be phased out of
production due to health/toxicity concerns. This list will be updated as new science emerges.
18 Halogenated flame retardants include: PBDE, TBBPA, HBCD, Deca-BDE, TCPP,TCEP, Dechlorane Plus
and other retardants with bromine or chlorine.
19 A temporary exception is made for PVC in wiring applications where it is mandated by code.
20 A temporary exception is made for low-mercury fluorescent lighting.
21 HDPE and LDPE are excluded.
22 An exception is made for solder and off-grid solar battery systems only.

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 11
Prerequisite Six – Construction Carbon Footprint23
The project must account for the embodied carbon footprint of its construction through
a one-time24 carbon offset tied to the building’s square footage and general construction

Prerequisite Seven – Responsible Industry26

All wood must be FSC certified or from salvaged sources.

Prerequisite Eight – Appropriate Materials/Services Radius

Materials and Services must adhere to the following list:

Weight/Distance List


Ideas 12,429.91 miles

Renewable Energy Technologies 27
7000 miles
Consultant Travel28 1500 miles
Lightweight Materials 29
1000 miles
Medium Weight Materials 500 miles
Heavy Materials 250 miles

23 This number can be reduced by 50 percent for retrofits of existing buildings, which will be described in the
User’s Guide.
24 It should be recognized that buildings continue to accrue embodied energy as systems are replaced
and repaired over time. It is recommended that additional offsets be purchased at 7-10 year intervals;
however, this is not currently part of the program.
25 This offset formula will be presented in the User’s Guide.
26 Subsequent iterations will include standards for other industries as they become available. All standards
referenced must be from independent 3rd party organizations and not standards funded by the industries
themselves such as the SFI wood standard.
27 Defined as wind, solar thermal, photovoltaics or fuel cells.
28 Applies only to major project team members including the architect of record, MEP and Structural
Engineers of record. Specialty consultants qualify up to 3000 miles.
29 The scale for weight designations will appear in the user’s guide.

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 12
Prerequisite Nine – Leadership in Construction Waste
Construction Waste must be diverted from landfills30 to the following levels


Metals 95%
Paper and Cardboard 95%
Soil, and biomass 100%
Rigid Foam, carpet & insulation 90%
All others – combined weighted average 31
Concrete and concrete blocks
Brick, tile and masonry materials
Untreated lumber
Plywood, OSB and particle board
Gypsum wallboard scrap
Plumbing fixtures
Architectural fixtures
Millwork, paneling and similar
Electric fixtures, motors, switch gear and similar
HVAC equipment, duck work, control systems, switches

Compliance for each material’s prerequisite is outlined in the Living Building User’s

30 Diverted waste includes those that are: recycled, reused, salvaged or composted. Incineration is not
31 Weighted average is lower to account for lack of diversion markets in certain jurisdictions.

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 13
A Living Building is water independent.

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents

Scarcity of clean potable water is quickly becoming a serious issue in many countries
around the world. The US and Canada have avoided the majority of these limitations
and problems to -date due to abundant fresh water, but highly unsustainable water use
patterns and the continued draw-down of major aquifers portent significant problems
ahead. The intent of these pre-requisites is to realign how people use water in the built
environment, so that people treat it as the precious resource that it is.

Ideal and Current Limitations

Cascadia envisions a future whereby all buildings are designed to harvest enough water
to meet the needs of occupants. Water can be re-used and purified and re-used again.
Currently, such practices are often illegal under health code regulations in North America,
which arose precisely because people were not properly safeguarding the quality of their
water. Reaching the ideal for water use presently is dependent on what is allowable by
code. The Living Building Standard acknowledges this reality.

Prerequisite Ten – Net Zero Water
100 percent of occupants’ water use must come from captured precipitation32 or reused
water that is appropriately purified without the use of chemicals33.

Prerequisite Eleven – Sustainable Water Discharge

100 percent of storm water and building water discharge must be handled on-site.

Compliance is outlined in the Living Building User’s Guide.

32 The exception being water that must be from potable sources due to local health regulations, including
sinks, faucets and showers but excluding irrigation, toilet flushing, janitorial uses and equipment uses.
33 An exception is made for an initial water purchase to get cisterns topped off. A Living Building only buys
water once.

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 14
Indoor Environmental Quality
Healthy for all people

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents

Most buildings provide far less than ideal conditions for maximum health and productivity.
As comfort decreases, environmental impact often increases as people often find
inefficient and wasteful ways to improve their physical environment. The intent of these
prerequisites is not to address all of the potential ways that an interior environment could
be compromised, but to focus on the major conditions that must be present for a healthy
interior environment to occur.

Ideal and Current Limitations

It is difficult to ensure that indoor environments will remain healthy, vibrant places for
people - especially over time, as aspects of human comfort such as indoor air quality,
thermal control and visual acuity can easily be compromised in numerous ways. The
presence of these prerequisites does not insure a great interior environment due to the
unpredictable nature of how people operate and maintain a building.

Prerequisite Twelve – A Civilized Work Environment
Every occupiable space must have operable windows34 that provide access to fresh air
and daylight35.

34 Exceptions being spaces where the absence of daylight is critical to the performance of the space (such
as a theatre) or where operable windows could pose a health risk (such as laboratory spaces with fume
hoods where air flow could be compromised).
35 Work spaces can be no more than 30 feet from a window.

As comfort decreases, environmental impact often increases as

people often find inefficient and wasteful ways to improve their
physical environment.

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 15
Prerequisite Thirteen – Healthy Air/Source Control
All buildings must meet the following criteria:

• Entryways must have an external dirt track-in system and an internal one
contained within a separate entry space.36

• All kitchens and bathrooms must be separately ventilated.

• All copy rooms, janitorial closets and chemical storage spaces must be separately

• All interior finishes, paints and adhesives must comply with SCAQMD 2007/2008
standards37. All other interior materials such as flooring and case works must
comply with California Standard 01350 for IAQ emissions38.

• The building must be a non-smoking facility39

Prerequisite Fourteen – Healthy Air – Ventilation

The building must be designed to deliver air change rates in compliance with California
Title 24 requirements.

Compliance is outlined in the Living Building User’s Guide.

36 Acceptable Dirt track in systems are defined in the Users Guide.

37 South Coast Air Quality Management District http://www.aqmd.gov/
38 Based on Title requirements at the time of construction.
39 An exception is made for public housing and residential architecture.

This new standard is an evolving tool

and specific rules on how to document
compliance and to seek living building
designation will be presented in The Living
Building User’s Guide, which will be based
specifically around what a project has done
– not what it likely will do.

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 16
Beauty & Inspiration
A Living Building Tells a Story.

Major Environmental Issues/Prerequisite Intents

As a society we are often surrounded by ugly and inhumane physical environments.
Sustainable design must inspire and elevate our spirits to be successful. If we do not
put care into our homes, streets and offices then why should we extend care outward to
our farms, forests and fields? We accept billboards, parking lots and strip malls as being
aesthetically acceptable in the same breathe that we accept clear-cuts, factory farms and
strip mines. The Living Building Standard recognizes the need for beauty as a precursor
to caring enough to preserve, conserve and serve the greater good.

Ideal and Current Limitations

Mandating beauty is, by definition, an impossible task. And yet, we believe we elevate
the level of discussion and, ultimately, the results through attempting difficult but critical
tasks. In this case the prerequisite is based merely on intention and attempt. We do not
begin to assume we can judge beauty and project our own aesthetic values on others.
But we do want to know people’s intention and that there is an effort made to enrich
people’s lives with each square foot of construction on each project. This intentionality
must carry forth into a program for educating the public about the environmental qualities
of their Living Building.

Prerequisite Fifteen - Beauty and Spirit
The project must contain design features intended solely for human delight and the
celebration of culture, spirit and place appropriate to the function of the building.

Prerequisite Sixteen - Inspiration and Education

Educational materials about the performance and operation of the project must be
made available to the public in order to inspire and educate. Non-sensitive areas of
the building must be held open to the public at least one day per year, to facilitate direct
contact with a truly sustainable building.

Compliance is outlined in the forthcoming Living Building User’s Guide.

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 17
Next Steps and Protocol
The Living Building Standard is intended to be a living document. This version is merely
a starting point in the continual development of the tool. As new ideas emerge, Cascadia
will update and improve upon the tools and its supporting documentation. Major changes
to the tool will happen periodically as new science emerges or as conditions in the
marketplace change, thereby affecting what is possible. Specific developments that
Cascadia will be supporting include the following:

• Development of the Living Building User’s Guide.

• Development of new Living Building financial models.

• Development of a Living Building Forum for discussion and feedback.

• Development of a new Living Communities Tool based on this Standard.

• Continued discussions with the USGBC and CaGBC for LEED integration.

How to Get Involved

Continued development of the Living Building Challenge will require many minds and
great ideas. Cascadia will be looking for help in various ways which include:

a) Informal feedback on version 1.2

b) ‘Expert’ committee development to work on each issue.

c) Research for various supporting documentation.

d) Donations to help sponsor the next round of work and to fund a competition.

e) Creation of project review committees.

The Living Building Standard is intended to be a living document.

This version is merely a starting point in the continual development of
the tool.

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 18
Background History
The idea for the Living Building first emerged in the mid-nineties during the creation of
the EpiCenter project in Bozemen, Montana which was funded by NIST40. The goal of
this project, which was led by Bob Berkebile and Kath Williams, was to produce the most
advanced sustainable design project in the world. Leading the research and technology
efforts on the project was Jason F. McLennan, who originally coined the concept and
began developing the requirements for what was known as the living building. Following
the EpiCenter, Berkebile and McLennan continued to develop these ideas and publish
several articles on the concept.41

In 2000, BNIM Architects42 was selected to design the new headquarters of the David
and Lucile Packard Foundation and, as part of this work, researched the economic
implications of the Living Building Concept along with other levels of LEED which was
presented in a document known as the Packard Matrix in 2001. Other major players in
this effort included KEEN Engineering. The Packard Matrix demonstrated that the level
of the living building was the smartest long-term choice economically, although it carried
a hefty first-cost premium. An updated study a year later showed this premium to be a
bit smaller. It is projected that the first-cost premiums will continue to diminish and living
buildings will soon emerge in response to the challenge of this Standard.

The ideal of the Living Building continues to be mentioned within the green building
movement, although no true Living Building has emerged. That said, every single aspect
of the Standard has been tried successfully in multiple projects, just never all at the same
time, proving that the concept is possible today; the specific Standard that unites them
was missing until now.

The Cascadia Region Green Building Council

The Cascadia Region Green Building Council promotes the design, construction and
operation of buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy
places to live and work in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Incorporated as
a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in December 1999, Cascadia is one of two original
chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council. It is also a chapter of the Canadian Green
Building Council.

40 The National Institute of Standards and Technology

41 See Bibliography at the end
42 www.bnim.com

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 19
Summary of Prerequisites
Number Category Prerequisite
One Site Design Responsible Site Selection
Two Site Design Limits to Growth
Three Site Design Habitat Exchange
Four Energy Net Zero Energy
Five Materials Materials Red List
Six Materials Carbon Footprint
Seven Materials Responsible Industry
Eight Materials Appropriate Materials Radius
Nine Materials Construction Waste
Ten Water Net Zero Water
Eleven Water Sustainable Water Discharge
Twelve Indoor Environmental Quality Civilized Work
Thirteen Indoor Environmental Quality Source Control
Fourteen Indoor Environmental Quality Ventilation
Fifteen Beauty & Inspiration Design for Spirit
Sixteen Beauty & Inspiration Inspiration and Education

The Living Building Challenge www.cascadiagbc.org

page 20
Current Development Team - TBD
It is our intention to fully develop the technical team for the Living Building Challenge
moving forward. The following individuals have contributed to the development of the
tool to-date.

Jason F. McLennan, Cascadia GBC- Paul Anseeuw, Stantec

Principal Investigator Peter Dobrovolny, City of Seattle
Bob Berkebile, BNIM Architects Marni Evans Kahn, Cascadia
Kath Williams, Kath Williams + Associates Jessica Woolliams, Cascadia
Clark Brockman, Sera Architects Gail Vittori, Center for Maxium Potential
Deb Guenther ASLA, Mithun Building Systems
Dale Mikkelson, UniverCity - Simon Fraser Joe Llona, cdi engineers
Tom Lent, Healthy Building Network Gina Franzosa, Cascadia
Mark Frankel, New Buildings Institute

Berkebile, Bob and McLennan, Jason. “ The Living Building” The World and I magazine.
Washington, DC. Washington Times Publication, 1999

Berkebile, Bob and McLennan, Jason. “The Living Workplace Habitat, World and I
magazine, Washington, DC. Washington Times Publication. 2002

Heerwagen, Judith H. Design, Productivity and Well-Being: What are the links? research
paper, American Institute of Architects Conference on Highly Effective Facilities 1998

McLennan, Jason. “Living Buildings” ACEEE conference proceedings, Asilomar

California, 1988

McLennan, Jason. “The Philosophy of Sustainable Design”, Ecotone Publishing, Kansas

City, 2004

LEED Reference Guide, US Green Building Council and Paladino and Associates.

Williams, Kath, Berkebile, Robert J. and McLennan, Jason F., et al , The NIST Report
for the MSU EpiCenter, Washington DC: National Institute of Standards and Technology
2000 In proceedings of the Second International Green Buildings Conference and
Exposition, EDS. K.M. Whitter and T. B Cohn, National Institute of Standards and
Technology Special Publications 888, Gaithersburg, MD

The Sustainability Report - David and Lucile Packard Foundation - BNIM Architects, HPS
Architects and KEEN Engineering, published 2001

© 2007 Cascadia Region Green Building Council The Living Building Challenge
page 21
721 NW 9th Ave. #280 1201 Alaskan Way #200 1575 Johnston Street
Portland, OR 97209 Seattle, WA 98101 Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9
503.228.5533 (ph) 206.223.2028 (ph) 604.682.5960 (ph)
503.914.1749 (fax) 206.623.7005 (fax) 604.682.5961 (fax)


Cascadia’s mission is to promote the design, construction and operation of buildings in Oregon,
Washington and British Columbia that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to
live, work and learn.
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The Living Retro Fits Building Conference


The Living Building Conference was held at Cambrian College’s eDome on Thursday September 27th, 2007.


Imagine buildings that are designed and built to operate as elegantly and efficiently as a flower. Imagine a building 
that is inspired by its geographic location, influenced by its natural environment, and that

 generates all of its own energy through renewable resources.
 captures all of its water and treats all of its waste water on site.
 uses resources efficiently and is showcased by an esthetically pleasing design. 

The Cascadia Region Green Building Council (Cascadia) has issued a challenge to all building owners, architects, 
engineers, and design professionals to build in a way that will provide all of us and our children with a sustainable 

The one-day conference in Cambrian College's eDome will chronicle the origin and emergence of a powerful idea 
based on a simple metaphor - that of the living building. It will explore the history of energy-efficient building design 
and construction in Northern Ontario, and it will illustrate the possibilities in the world of architecture. It will also
discuss the future and will outline how buildings should be built in order to ensure a sustainable future and to 
address powerful trends such as climate change. The conference will inspire architects, developers, and builders. 
Most importantly, it will prepare them for the future of sustainable building design and construction. Conference 
workshops will support business and association partners by providing information on how to market residential 
energy-saving products and by demonstrating the installation of energy-efficient building materials.

There are currently no living buildings in North America that have been built based on the definition created by the 
Cascadia Region Green Building Council. There are, however, multiple projects that are close in several areas and 
a few that exceed the standard in one or two criteria. Given that the expected life-span of a home exceeds 50 
years, it is important that sustainability and energy conservation be incorporated in the construction of today's new 
homes. Increasing home energy costs coupled with concerns about sustainability of energy sources make it 
imperative that homes that are built today do not become a financial burden on future homeowners. The time is 
ripe for true living buildings to emerge.

The conference will take place in the eDome (Electronic Delivery of Modular Education) at Cambrian College in 
Sudbury, Ontario, and will be broadcast live and over the Internet via streaming. The College's eDome is a world-
class facility designed for live or recorded presentations, featuring broadcast quality audio and video, large 
projection screens, and surround-sound. The conference will include a trade show for green builders and 
alternative energy businesses and manufacturers.


Jason F. McLennan, CEO Cascadia Green Building Council

Jason McLennan serves as CEO of the Cascadia Green Building Council, the Pacific Northwest's leading 
organization in the field of green building and sustainable development. Cascadia is a chapter of both the U.S. 
Green Building Council and the Canadian Green Building Council. McLennan is known as an international thought 
leader in the green architecture movement and has lectured on sustainability across the U.S. and Canada. His 
work in the sustainable design field has been published in several journals, magazines, conference proceedings, 
and books. He is the author of three books; The Philosophy of Sustainable Design, The Dumb Architect's Guide to 
Glazing Selection, and the Ecological Engineer. The Philosophy of Sustainable Design is currently used as a 
textbook in over 30 universities and is distributed widely throughout Europe and North America.

He is a former Principal at BNIM Architects, one of the founders of the green design movement in the United 
States, where he worked on many of the leading high performance projects in the country, including LEED 
Platinum and Gold projects and zero energy projects. At BNIM, he created the building science team known as
Elements, which set new standards for energy and resource efficiency on many of its projects in various building 
types. McLennan is also the founder and CEO of Ecotone Publishing the only dedicated green building publisher in 
North America. McLennan was recently named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Most Influential Individuals in the 
design and construction field by Building Design and Construction magazine, and Green Designer of the Year by 
Pitch Magazine.


McLennan's presentation on Living Buildings will include the following:

 why Sudbury is the inspiration for the living building and what it means to build one; 
 a description of the environmental crisis ahead in four signal areas including climate change, habitat loss, the 
rise of persistent chemicals, and social inequity; 
 leading green building thinkers from across North America;
 footage of the Launch of the Living Building Challenge at Denver Greenbuild; 
 a description of the Living Building Standard with examples/walkthroughs from various buildings across the 
continent that share aspects of the living building - loosely organized around the main categories of the 
standard: site, energy, materials, water, Indoor Quality, and Inspiration/Education; 
 design drawings and presentation of the Cambrian Project - designed to be a living building; and 
 snapshots of other developers and projects pursuing living buildings 

Peter Love, Chief Energy Conservation Officer

Peter Love was appointed Ontario's first Chief Energy Conservation Officer in April 2005 to head the Conservation 
Bureau, a division of the Ontario Power Authority. The mandate of the Conservation Bureau is to provide 
leadership in electricity conservation and demand management, and advance a conservation culture in Ontario.

Love has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the area of energy efficiency. As the Executive Director of the 
Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, he was a leading advocate for energy efficiency and its related benefits to the 
economy and the environment.

No stranger to the concept of a "cultural shift" in the province, early in his career Love worked as a project 
coordinator for Pollution Probe with the team that developed the concept "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".

Love received both his MBA and BA from the University of Toronto.


Love will be speaking about the importance of energy conservation in the provincial and global context, how more
stringent building codes and standards will help contribute to sustainability and energy savings, and how to design 
energy efficiency and sustainability into new building construction.

Dennis Castellan, B.Arch. B.E.S., B.Sc., OAA, RAIC

as architect

Castellan is a native of Sudbury and is the founding partner of Castellan James + Partners Architects Inc.
established in Sudbury in 1984. He has designed a diverse range of project types including cultural, heritage, civic, 
institutional, correctional, commercial, recreational, and residential projects, in addition to numerous urban and
community scale planning studies. 

The community continues to recognize both his design and leadership abilities, and the design firm he has created
with the award of high profile civic projects, such as the new airport for the City of Greater Sudbury, the YMCA 
Centre for Life, Federal Building Renovations to 19 Lisgar Street, and leading-edge projects in Adult Lifestyle 
Community Living.  Castellan has also worked on sustainable design projects, including the original concept design 
for the Living with Lakes Centre. Recent projects include the new 72,000-square-foot School of Education building
(English Teachers College) currently under construction at Laurentian University - a high performance sustainable 
design building that is targeted to be Sudbury's first completed LEED Silver project. 

As a member of Northern Ontario's architectural community, Castellan participates in a variety of forums focused 
on sustainable design, urban development, and arts and culture, including 15 years on the Board of Directors of 
the Art Galley of Sudbury, a member of Earth Care Sudbury's Energy Advisory Committee, and a member of the 
Canadian Urban Institute.

Castellan's keen ability to lead, collaborate, and 'think the problem / intuit the solution' pervades his work as
architect, artist, and technician. He has received degrees from the University of Waterloo Sciences (B.Sc., Physics 
- 1973), Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES 1976), and Bachelor of Architecture (1979) that underscore a 
unique crossing of scientific, artistic and cultural thought evident in his work. This unique background provides a 
strong, intuitive sense and a distinctive, fresh approach to each project.

as artist

Castellan is an active artist (painting and sculpture) and has exhibited his work consistently over the years. His 
work represents an ongoing internal dialogue about the enigma of 'the north/our place' and the 'human form'. His 
work is described as 'poetic'. 

Castellan has received numerous Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance Grants for his solo exhibitions and 
has participated in many group exhibitions when he began publicly exhibiting his work in 1987. His work has been 
supported by the community, the Galerie du Nouvel - Ontario, the Art Gallery of Sudbury, and the Joan 
Ferneyhough Gallery in North Bay.

His work has been critically reviewed by the press, included in exhibition catalogues, and in 2001, he was one of 
three Canadian artists shortlisted for the Spanish War Memorial on the Capital Hill in Ottawa - a national 
competition to design a memorial commemorating Canadians who fought in the Spanish War of 1939. 


Castellan will speak about the Emergent Order: the impact of scale and the machine in the garden.

Bill Crawford, Chief Technical Advisor for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Crawford is a Chief Technical Advisor with over 30 years of experience at CMHC in both the inspection and
research divisions. 

His strong affiliation with various professional associations and code committees provide him with a comprehensive 
insight on building science in new homes and related problems in older homes. 

His experience with low and high-rise buildings, environmental issues, and renovations gives Bill a good 
understanding of the technical problems facing builders, renovators, professionals and the consumer. 

His work can take him outside of Canada to showcase Canadian technology, and research new innovative 
concepts in home construction and marketing. Bill holds diplomas in both Engineering Technology and Business


Crawford will speak about a balanced house that can be built in a healthy way and that addresses both indoor and 
outdoor environments while generating as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis, yielding a net zero 
energy bill.

Thomas Mueller, President and CEO Canada Green Building Council

Mueller has been President of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) since 2005 and has been involved in 
sustainable resource management and planning, green building, and sustainable community development for 20 

He has held various positions in the Policy and Planning Department of the Greater Vancouver Regional District 
(GVRD), focusing on advancing demand side management programs in the business sector.  During this time, he 
created and managed the green building program for the district. In his last position with the District, he was 
Division Manager, Business and Community Services.

Mueller has been director of the Canada Green Building Council since its inception in 2002.  He chaired the LEED 
BC Steering Committee responsible for the first adaptation of the LEED building rating system outside the U.S. 
Mueller also chaired the Vancouver Chapter of the CaGBC from 2002-2005 and is a past board member of the
USGBC Cascadia Chapter.


Mueller will address attendees at the breakfast.  He will overview the goals of the Canadian Green Building Council 
and the transformation of the built environment in Canada leading to a sustainable future.

Mario Kani, MASc, P. Eng.

Mario Kani is President of Sustainable EDGE Ltd. an engineering based sustainable technologies firm. Throughout 
his 25-year career, Kani has worked on the design of low energy houses and buildings, addressing efficient and 
durable envelope design, alternative mechanical technologies, and sustainable building and community systems. 
Kani is a LEED Accredited Professional and has served on several boards of community-based environmental 

Kani has been involved in local projects, such as the Laurentian University Student Residence, the New School of 
Education Building, and the Living with Lakes Ecounit Project, all in collaboration with Castellan James + Partners


Solar Hot Water: Why not?

Solar hot water systems are established technologies still waiting to be significantly exploited. Kani's presentation 
will explore current manufactured and innovative technologies available, complementary strategies and programs, 
barriers to and opportunities for cost-effective deployment, the contexts for the house, and building and community-
scale installations.

Steve Jacques, Regional Manager of the Community Development and Research, CMHC

Steve Jacques has been the Regional Manager of the Community Development and Research department at 
CMHC's Ontario Business Centre since his appointment in 2005.

Jacques was first hired by the corporation in 1989 as a Market Analyst in the Sudbury Office. In 1990, he joined 
Northland Engineering to work as Senior Development Planner.  He was rehired as a Market Analyst by the 
Sudbury Office in 1992. Between 1992 and 1996, Steve served on the Board of Directors for the Ontario 
Professional Planners Institute. During this same period, he was an Adjunct Professor at Laurentian University, 
lecturing on Housing and Urban Planning. Jacques moved to the National Office in 1996, as a Senior Researcher, 
Economic Analysis, in the Research division. He returned to the Ontario Business Centre in 1997 as Senior Market 
Analyst at the Toronto Branch.  In 1998, he was appointed Manager, Market Analysis Centre, Ontario Business 
Centre. In 2001, Steve assumed responsibility for both Research Information Technology Transfer and Market
Analysis for the Ontario region.    

Steve holds a Master of Science (Planning) degree from the University of Toronto, an Honours Bachelor of Arts 
from Laurentian University in Sudbury, and a Certificate in Municipal Class Environmental Assessment.  He is a 
Registered Professional Planner in Ontario, a Member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute, and a 
member of the Canadian Institute of Planners.

Aaron Dent, B.Sc.E, LEED, AP

Dent completed his Bachelor and Master degrees at Queen's University before joining Halsall Associates, a 
consulting engineering firm specializing in structural design, building science, and sustainable design. Since that 
time, he was worked as a sustainability consultant on many jobs - from Herman Miller's Head Office in Toronto, the 
Rockcliffe mixed-use development in Ottawa, to helping develop green building regulations for both the City of 
Toronto at the Waterfront, and the City of Pickering. His passion is for green residential buildings, especially using 
natural materials as the primary structure. He became interested in straw bale building almost five years ago, and 
has had the chance to design the first load bearing straw bale house in Sudbury. Aaron has been a LEED 
Accredited Professional for over two years.


Dent's straw bale presentation will give an overview of the best practices for building straw bale today, including
important design considerations, as well as a brief look at some straw bale building codes. This will be followed by 
a Sudbury case study to give some insight into the actual building of your own straw bale home.

Robert Mancini, P.Eng.

Mancini is currently president of R. Mancini and Associates Limited and Vice-President of GeoThermax Inc., a
geoexchange design-build company headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. Mancini has been engaged as a 
Consulting Engineer in the HVAC field since 1977 and has been responsible for the design of over 10,000 tons of 
commercial/institutional geoexchange systems across North America since 1984. He has served on a committee 
responsible for the development of CSA 447, "Design and Installation of Commercial Ground Source Heat Pump 
Systems"; and CSA 448 "Design and Installation of Earth Energy System." Mancini is a corresponding member of
ASHRAE's Ground Source Technical Committee, and co-authored an ASHRAE symposium paper entitled 
"Operating and Maintenance Experience with Ground Source Heat Pump Systems". Mancini was also one of two 
consultants chosen by the US GeoExchange for its Design Assistance Program.

Mancini earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto in 1973. His active 
memberships include the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, the American Society of Heating 
Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, the Association of Energy Engineers, the International Ground 
Source Heat Pump Association, and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.


Mancini will speak about geothermal heat pump systems for commercial, institutional, and residential buildings.

Dr. David Pearson, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Co-Director, Science Communication

Dr. David Pearson is a Professor of Earth Sciences and Co-Director of the Science Communication Program at 
Laurentian University.  Dr. Pearson sat as the Chair of the former C-CAIRN, the Ontario branch of the Canadian 
Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network dedicated to improving knowledge of climate change impacts 
and to identifying appropriate adaptation measures. 

Dr. Pearson served as Project Director for Science North from 1980 to 1986 and remains Associate Director, 
participating in special projects. He has hosted two television series: "Understanding the Earth" for TV Ontario, and 
"Down to Earth" for Mid-Canada Television, as well as a weekly radio spot, "Radio Lab", on CBC Northern Ontario 
Radio. He is an invited member of the Osprey Writers Group. He received the Ward Neale Medal from the 
Geological Association of Canada for promotion of Earth Sciences in Canada in 2001 and the McNeil medal for 
science communication from the Royal Society of Canada in 2003.


Dr. Pearson will speak about the adaptation to global warming in Northern Ontario.

Lorraine Gauthier, Principal, Work Worth Doing

Lorraine Gauthier is a principal in Work Worth Doing (www.workworthdoing.com), a forward-thinking design studio 
creating social and environmental change. Lorraine initiated Now HouseT (www.nowhouseproject.com), one of the 
winning projects in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's national EQuilibrium housing pilot
demonstration initiative. She is leading the team that will be retrofitting the demonstration house situated in 
Topham Park, Toronto.
Prior to starting Work Worth Doing, Lorraine ran a Toronto-based corporate communications company that 
provided consulting services for Fortune 500 and Canadian companies in the financial services, energy, and 
telecommunications sectors. 

Lorraine was a member of the faculty at the Ontario College of Art and Design and is currently on the board of 
Homes First Society, a non-profit organization providing housing for homeless families in Toronto.  She holds a 
Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History from the University of Toronto and a Master of Science in journalism 
from the University of Kansas.  In addition, Lorraine has recently completed the US Green Buildings Council's
LEED-CI (commercial interiors) program. 


Now House - What if your house had an energy cost of zero? 

Lorraine will be speaking about Now HouseT, her team's winning project in CMHC's national Equilibrium housing 
pilot demonstration initiative.  

About a year ago, Lorraine Gauthier brought together a team of architects, engineers, designers, and homeowners 
to respond to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Net Zero Energy Healthy Home national design 
competition, now called the EQuilibrium housing pilot demonstration initiative. The team's design submission 
called, Now HouseT, proposed to turn a 60-year old wartime house into a near zero energy home - one that 
produces almost as much energy as it uses. In February, Now House was chosen as one of 12 winning teams from 
across Canada. As the only winning team doing a retrofit, Now House is in a unique position to show homeowners 
and their local contractors how a few simple changes can turn older houses into healthy, energy-efficient homes. 
The team plans to start with one small wartime house, then continue with a community of wartime houses, with an 
ultimate goal of retrofitting an estimated million wartime houses across the country. 


Download the Agenda

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Registration Form


Questions - livingbuildingconference@cambrianc.on.ca

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1400 Barrydowne Road
Sudbury, Ontario

Canada P3A 3V8

(705) 566-8101

© Cambrian College
All Rights Reserved.

About Cambrian
Home | About The Centre | Conceptual Designs | The Living Building Retro Fits Conference | Contact Us

Sustainable Energy Centre

For more information or to become involved, contact:

John Hood, Project Manager

Sustainable Energy Centre
Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology
(705) 566-8101, extension 7578
Email: john.hood@cambriancollege.ca

Les Lisk, Project Coordinator for Applied Research

Sustainable Energy Centre
Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology
(705) 566-8101, extension 7582
Email: les.lisk@cambriancollege.ca

Angele Dufresne, Project Assistant

Sustainable Energy Centre
Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology
(705) 566-8101, extension 7696
Email: angele.dufresne@cambriancollege.ca

Back to top

1400 Barrydowne Road

Sudbury, Ontario
Canada P3A 3V8

(705) 566-8101

© Cambrian College
All Rights Reserved.