Living Buildings in New Zealand
Imagine projecting the mega trends of un-sustainability onto a building project. We would see all the symptoms of unsustainability; climate change impacts, ecological degradation; escalating energy, water and travel costs; inefficient HVAC (air) creating uncomfortable houses and offices that make you ill; risk aversion at every stage, creating silo solutions and a race to the bottom of the cost & quality barrel.
What would a building look like that addressed all these issues and responded strategically to these constraints? Imagine that it went even further and used bio-mimicry design to generate solutions that positively improve our society, environment and economy? Well these buildings exist already. They are called Living Buildings.
They are a new species of building that meet ‘restorative’ standards of sustainability. The rules and tools are described in “The Living Building Challenge” (LBC). They are delivered using smart design or Integrated Sustainable Design (ISD).
Last November Jason F McLennan , the international green building guru and author of the Living Building Challenge toured Auckland and Christchurch, speaking to over 600 design professionals, developers, officials and the public. He introduced the transformational paradigm shift that is the LBC.
The LBC sets the most stringent aspirational performance target for our buildings and neighbourhoods to achieve. Net zero energy and water, car & toxin free living, carbon and eco offsets, healthy spaces – good for everyone. What’s not to like? We struggle to deny the logic and positive outcomes of aiming for the best possible future which the LBC sets out clearly.
There are several Living Buildings certified in the Pacific NW and many more in delivery, including Australia and now NZ. Several of our clients saw the strong alignment of their values with the LBC and requested it, as the framework to drive their projects towards excellence. The upfront costs of Living Buildings are more than unsustainable buildings, but the medium and long term costs are negative (Yes that’s right positive benefits!) because these buildings are totally future proofed and have accounted for their impacts on day one. It is amazing how quickly our need for and the aspiration to create Living Buildings here in NZ is propagating through the construction industry. Look out – the solutions are here and we are designing the future today.
Photo credit Van Dusen Botanical Garden Centre - source www.perkinswill.com