What You Need to Know About Living Building Challenge 3.0


The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a certification program that redefines the way people view environmental sustainability. The LBC educates people on ways we can transform our current view of design and construction. Rather than creating structures that are “less bad,” the LBC implements projects and ideals that is regenerative and transformational for the environment.

Since it was founded in 2006, it has grown and expanded its core values worldwide. As it empowers minds and motivates change, it has sparked a passion to reform and redefine construction and design ideals.

Recently, the LBC has taken an important step in transforming their current standards. This year their standard includes new, innovative refinements that will help achieve their goal of a regenerative, living future. With eight key changes, LBC 3.0 is taking a big step forward in continuing advocacy for a better world.

1. Site Petal renamed to Place Petal

Moving forward, the LBC has renamed the Site Petal to the Place Petal. This change reflects the intention of viewing every project location as unique, with its own cultural impact. Rather than being defined as just a mere site ready to be developed, it now demands more special focus and attention. This change will help restore a healthy interrelationship between construction and nature.

2. Neighborhood Typology removed

The LBC has removed Neighborhood Typology from the LBC and redirected it to the Living Community Challenge. The LBC feels that scales larger than individual buildings deserves a more specialized focus. By separating the two, they can better devote time to each specific project, singular or larger community-style ones.

3. Increased emphasis on resilient infrastructure

There has been a greater emphasis on the necessity of resilient infrastructure. In doing so, LBC ensures in times of disruption or uncertainty, Living Buildings are always pillars of safety and security. Creating this reliance and trust is an important step in showing how design and construction must also rely on our current ecological systems.

4. Importance of regenerative design

The idea of the LBC as a tool for regenerative design is more explicitly emphasized. Rather than being perceived as neutral with ideas that LBC believes in “do no harm,” they are redirecting and creating a vision for a future of sustainable, regenerative living. This 3.0 change makes a shift toward net-positive structures, rather than net-zero. Now, projects will be required to not only produce as much water and energy that they need, but they must produce more. This will allow the program to be truly sustainable and regenerative.

5. Redefined Equity Petal

LBC 3.0 has more clearly redefined its Equity Petal. This petal was introduced in 2.0, but admittedly was a less developed category until now. JUSTTM was launched in May 2013 and is not a part of the Petal.  JUSTTM is a call to social justice action—ranking a company’s progress on social equity metrics such as responsible investing and gender diversity. The Equity Petal is now just as innovative as the other petals in the Challenge. It helps to foster an inclusive, true sense of community that is equitable regardless of an individual’s background and beliefs.

6. Higher standard for material transparency

With this 3.0 update, LBC has set a higher standard with material transparency. This allows materials to have a “nutrition label,” per say. It has also expanded and redefined the Red List, the first update since 2006 when the LBC initiative was originally created. It has clearly displayed the materials and/or chemicals a project cannot contain. Furniture is now also included with this Materials Petal update.

7. New offset programs

LBC 3.0 has launched three new Living Future Exchange offset programs. These programs make it easier for project team managers to distribute funds to worthwhile causes. They can also see the donations given and the immediate effect they have. More information on the LBC Exchange program can be found at www.living-future.org/exchange.

8. Redefined market-based exceptions

Market-based exceptions have also been refined. For example, fluorescent lighting has been banned in all but a few applications. This is the first time a green building initiative has taken this important step in reducing the toxicity these materials can cause.

Effective May 22, 2014, all projects that are registering for the Challenge will be registered under Version 3.0. The previous version, 2.1, will no longer exist as an option; however, projects that are already registered under 2.1 and not yet complete will have until December 31, 2019 to achieve certification. By developing this more concrete framework, the LBC will be more effective in current and future endeavors to advocate for a regenerative and sustainable world.

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