Over the past few weeks I have written about the Living Building Challenge from the International Living Future Institute, giving an overview of the different Petals and Imperatives it is made of. As I mentioned in the opening post of this series, I was first introduced to the LBC in the context of a residential project, as I took part in a competition to design a single-family home in the remote Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska.
The Living Building Challenge is essentially a philosophy based on a core set of beliefs, creating the basis for its 20 Imperatives that provide a measuring tool for designing and building in a more sustainable manner in the context of our natural environment. My exposure to the LBC helped to articulate my own beliefs about sustainability and has helped to guide the philosophies and practices I am shaping my design studio and future project ideas around.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the time I have spent in residential design and construction has highlighted to me the incredible inefficiency of our current, traditional building methods and the high amounts of waste we generate in terms of both materials and time. We have been building irresponsibly for decades, choosing poor building materials and wasting natural resources. Our homes are dependent on regional and national utility services that are outdated, inefficient and/or non-renewable. This needs to change.
There are a number of better of practices that we can begin to implement, and the Living Building Challenge helps to define much of that. These better practices can lead to us designing and building homes that are completely self-sustaining, dwell in harmony with the natural environment and are healthy and beautiful to live.
As sustainable technologies improve, it is becoming more financially feasible to build these type of homes. Cost is no longer the barrier that it once was. What's more, doing the right thing should not be based on financial cost anyways.
Eating food that is produced organically may cost us more financially than eating out at McDonald's, but it is the healthiest choice. In the same way, why do we continue building McDonald's-type housing at the cost of our health and the environment?
The path I have chosen as a Residential Designer is to design and build homes in a more efficient way that make responsible use of our material resources, dwell in harmony with nature and are completely self-sustaining.
Quotations and information cited comes from the Living Building Challenge 3.1. To learn more or download a copy of the Living Building Challenge, visit the International Living Future Institute. Neither Joshua Stewart nor JDS Design Studio is a paid advocate of the Living Building Challenge nor a member of the LBC Ambassador Network. As a residential design firm the purpose of creating this blog series is to inform, educate and advocate for a sustainable approach to designing and building fully self-sufficient homes and communities.