Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge (LBC) establishes the most rigorous standards in the world in a variety of categories including site impacts, energy, water, materials, and resources. Perhaps most notably, it concerns itself equally with issues of beauty and inspiration, human equity, health, and happiness. Philosophically, there is strong alignment between the goals of the LBC and the mission of the Divinity School: to promote true stewardship, community, and an equitable, just world for all. The Living Building Challenge begins by asking a simple but profound question:

“What if every act of design and construction made the world a better place?”

Performance “Petals”

The LBC is comprised of seven performance categories called “Petals” which are subdivided into a total of twenty imperatives. These imperatives are applied to every type of building project no matter its size or location. All imperatives must be met in order for a project to qualify as a Living Building. For more information please refer to the website of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI),

Challenge “Petals”

  • Place: Restoring a Healthy Interrelationship with Nature
  • Water: Net Positive Water Use
  • Energy: Net Positive Energy Use
  • Health & Happiness: Optimize Well Being
  • Materials: Safe for all Species Through Time
  • Equity: Supporting a Just and Equitable World
  • Beauty: Uplifting the Human Spirit

Indicators for Success

The LBC seeks to create buildings that go beyond the most rigorous existing environmental standards such as LEED certification. Living buildings would not only be sustainable, but would actually contribute to the environment. A living building gives more than it takes.

A graph showing the living building challenge indicators of success. From the left are negative environmental impacts indicated by a bottom oriented orange curve that spans across existing building standards in order of least regenerative to most from the left. Starting with existing Building Code, then Green Standards, then High Performance Standards almost att he middle. Just past the middle to the right is the Sustainable Standard which starts the Living Building Challenge level indicated by a top green curve labeled Positive Environmental Impacts.
“Setting the Ideal as the Indicator of Success” graph from the Living Building Challenge 4.0