Living Building Challenge announced as winner of 2012 Buckminster Fuller Challenge
Each year, the Buckminster Fuller Institute celebrates a holistic initiative that has ‘potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems’ and over this past weekend announced its 2012 winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge: The Living Building Challenge (LBC). Initiated in 2006 by the International Living Future Institute, the LBC is a global eco-programme with stringent rules and regulations which requires each building to demonstrate the effectiveness of its green features over a period of twelve months of continuous occupancy.
On receiving this prestigious symbol of recognition, Jason F. McLennan, CEO of the International Living Future Institute, said: “Winning the Buckminster Fuller Prize is a huge honour for us. When we first launched the Living Building Challenge in late 2006, we really went out on a limb. We didn’t know how the building industry would respond to such an ambitious, performance-based building standard.”
Each scheme that applies for the Living Building Challenge is requested to meet twenty Imperatives, categorised under the headings ‘Site’, ‘Water’, ‘Energy’, ‘Health’, ‘Materials’, ‘Equity’ and ‘Beauty’ including the following: One hundred percent of the project’s energy demand must be supplied by onsite renewable energy on a net annual basis; For each hectare of development, an equal amount of land must be set aside for thriving ecosystems; One hundred percent of occupant’s water use must come from captured precipitation or closed loop water systems that are appropriately purified without the use of chemicals; and The project must contain design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit and place appropriate to its function.
To this date, only three schemes have managed to achieve the top award of recognition by the LBC: Living Status. These are the Tyson Living Learning Center in Eureka by Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck by BNIM Architects, and the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Laboratory in Waimea by Flansburgh Architects. These three intensely green projects are the only applicants in the entire world that have managed to meet all twenty Imperatives however there are a further 140 schemes currently undertaking the programme, including the Bullitt Center in Seattle by Miller Hull Architects (see left).
Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects’ Tyson Research Center has been heralded as one of the most sustainable buildings in the United States for its integrated green features. An environmental field station for Washington University in St. Louis, the modestly-sized project boasts NetZero Energy through the implementation of photovoltaic panels and incorporates a chemical-free rainwater harvesting system, an infiltration garden to filter greywater and composting toilets which effectively eliminate waste.
On a similar level are BNIM Architects’ Omega Center for Sustainable Living and the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Laboratory by Flansburgh Architects, both of which act as educational tools to inspire the next generation of eco-conscious professionals. The latter is both a LEED Platinum and LBC holder and utilises power from sun, wind and water to run the facility which studies the use of alternative energy.
“Our current focus is bringing the Challenge up to the community and city scales, and the recognition offered by the Buckminster Fuller Institute with this award will help accelerate the international adoption of the strategies embodied by the Living Building Challenge at all scales” explains McLennan. To find out about applying for the LBC or to volunteer your services to the cause, click here.