The Living Building Challenge at River Bend Farm: Place Petal

In 2019, The Ecology School is embarking on a rigorous construction project to create a Dining Commons and Dormitory that will exceed the greenest of the green standards in building. We are passionate about living our mission and dedicated to "practicing what we preach" at River Bend Farm. This is why we have chosen to seek Living Building Challenge certification.

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. (Next month we'll look at the Water Petal!)

Place is the first of seven Petals, or categories, that comprise the Living Building Challenge, and rightly so. All of the elements required for a self-sustaining building are dependent on its location. The climate, region, and natural topography of the project site must be taken into careful consideration because the built environment should seamlessly coexist with its natural surroundings. A living building must be well adapted for its environment so that it can generate energy, capture and treat water, and grow food in the most efficient way. Here's a few highlights of the many ways the requirements of the Place Petal will influence design at River Bend Farm. Want to learn even more about the Place Petal? Click here!

How Does The Place Petal Influence The Design Of River Bend Farm?

THE BUILDINGS The Dormitory and Dining Commons have been orientated to follow the natural contours of the landscape. Despite their close proximity to one another, the positioning of the buildings in response to the landscape, create experientially different places.

  • The Dormitory is nested beside a windrow of Maples and White Pines to create a place of refuge and introspection.

  • Dining Commons face wide-open views, perched atop the rolling meadows that lead down to the Saco River. This location promotes passive solar heat and feeds the meadow with rainwater.


THE LANDSCAPE "Vegetation around the dorms is a productive landscape, it's not about decoration. It's not a doily laid on the ground. Every time a person goes in and out of a dormitory, they are seeing the food they just ate when they had dinner in the Dining Commons. A real connection between production, processing, and ultimately plate.” – David Maynes, Richardson & Associates, Landscape Architects.

  • Vegetation is curated to utilize the conveyance of water throughout the site, from capturing rainwater off roofs to storm water collection, for nourishment. (Ex. Elderberries flourish in very moist soil.)

  • Permaculture gardens will surround the buildings, becoming an everyday part of participants' world during the time they spend at River Bend Farm.

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