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Template for Affordable Energy-Efficient Construction
John Caulfield / BUILDER / July 15, 2013
The Living Building Challenge takes aim at production builders.
Is “the world’s most rigorous building standard” ready for its close-up on the residential construction stage? That’s how the International Living Future Institute describes the construction standards of its Living Building Challenge.
Structures certified under the Challenge have achieved net zero energy, water and waste for a full year of owner occupancy. None of the building materials used to construct the buildings are on the Challenge’s “Red List,” which singles out substances and chemicals in products that the Institute believes are antithetical to sustainable building.
Right now, 39 of the 90 projects that are registered to be certified (all are in different stages of development and/or construction) are residential, although nearly all are custom homes.
Affordable Green Template
The certification criteria would seem daunting for most production builders. But the Institute’s Brad Liljequist sees the Living Building Challenge as a template for affordable new-home construction. “We’re at a very exciting time, right at the front end of a huge wave,” which he describes as “a leader niche market.”
Liljequist joined the seven-year-old Institute in June as technical director of the Living Building Challenge to “push that market out and grow production building” under the Challenge’s standards.
Liljequist had been Capital Projects manager for the city of Issaquah, Wash., which in 2006 donated 0.4 acres of land in Issaquah Highlands for a 10-townhouse development that was the first (and so far only) residential project built to the Challenge’s performance requirements.
“Issaquah wanted to put its thumbprint on what it wanted the city of the future to be,” recalls Liljequist.