Thursday morning started out with an informational presentation about Living Building Challenge (LBC). Held at The Environmental Center and led by Desert Rain’s LBC/LEED consultant ML Vidas, the session drew nearly 40 contractors, subcontractors and community members. Everyone who works on Desert Rain—from design to implementation, excavation to roofing—is required to attend one of ML’s presentations, which are held every four to eight weeks.
A home that achieves LBC certification can certainly be said to be one of the “greenest,” most sustainably designed and built homes anywhere. For that reason, and of course more, it is essential that everyone involved with the project has a clear understanding of what Living Building Challenge is, how it can be achieved, and what their vital role is in the process. As Tom told the group, many of whom are currently working on Desert Rain or will be soon: “You’re here because you’re the best of the best … because you’re leaders in your particular trade or industry.” Likewise, LBC 2.0 states:
“The specific methodology used to meet the expectations of the Living Building Challenge is relegated to the genius of the design teams, who are expected to make informed decisions appropriate to the project and bioregion.”
Because this standard is so new, everyone is learning about how to achieve the standard as they go–and everyone brings a unique range of experience to Desert Rain, helping it move forward and evolve. That experience comes forth in almost every aspect of the project that I’ve seen, from design team meetings to on-site construction. There’s a constant buzz of collaboration, and I think much of that comes from involving everyone in the process. No one is “just doing” their trade. They’re implementing their skills to help achieve a truly unique outcome: to create a home that generates all of its own energy, that captures and treats its own water, that provides a healthy environment free of Red List materials, and that promotes place-based solutions and fair labor practices. And that does it all with beauty: “The project must contain design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit and place appropriate to its function” (from LBC 2.0).
It’s a tall order.
But every time they share their vision, it comes one step closer to reality. After Thursday morning’s room-filling presentation, I headed out to the home site, which was a hive of activity at 9:00 a.m. Stone masons, concrete contractors, framers, roofers–everyone aware of the goal, and everyone doing their part to achieve it.
Below are the seven petals of LBC (they’re at the bottom of this blog post in caps), and the 20 imperatives that must be met for a building to achieve full LBC certification (imperatives are grouped under their respective petals). These were discussed in ML’s presentation. You can read more about them by linking here.
Limits to Growth
Net Zero Water
Ecologial Water Flow
Net Zero Energy
Embodied Carbon Footprint
Conservation + Reuse
Human Scale + Human Places
Democracy + Social Justice
Rights to Nature
Beauty + Spirit
Inspiration + Education