Defining the Living Building Challenge at River Bend Farm

You've probably seen the phrase “Living Building Challenge" in some form related to The Ecology School. What the heck does it mean? And, what does it look at like River Bend Farm? Throughout 2019, we'll break down the Living Building Challenge so that you can connect with what's going on at River Bend Farm and understand our deep commitment to constructing facilities that model sustainable living for all who visit.

What is it? The Living Building Challenge is the world's most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings. (Ryan Kanteres, Senior Associate at Scott Simon Architects says it's "the epitome of sustainable design.") People from around the world use the regenerative design framework to create spaces that, like a flower, give more than they take — creating a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them. Living Buildings are resilient, self-sufficient systems that provide energy security for decades to come. They are teaching tools and sources of inspiration. Want to dig deeper? Click here.

Why are we doing it? In order to be a fully immersive experience for our program participants, it is crucial to practice what we preach and show what everyday sustainable living, in green buildings, looks like. Stewardship of and connection to the natural world is demonstrated in our daily acts and the choices we make surrounding our living practice. By giving participants the opportunity to look anew at the way they interact with the built and natural world, we're guiding them towards a sustainability mind-set that takes care of our shared home, the Earth.

What does it look like? The Living Building Challenge is organized into seven performance areas called Petals. (Petals, as in flower. Because the buildings, like a flower, are giving back to the environment more than they take!) The Petals are: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Fitness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. The buildings must reflect these requirements in all aspect of design. Each month we'll dig into a Petal, explaining what it is and how it will be modeled at River Bend Farm. In February David Maynes from Richardson & Associates will share details about the Place Petal.