My last post in the Living Building Challenge series looked at the importance of Water in sustainable design and construction.
The next Petal in the LBC is Energy.
The creators of the Living Building Challenge envision a built environment that relies solely on renewable forms of energy operating year-round. In order to achieve full reliance on renewable energy, we need to prioritize reduction and optimization to eliminate the current waste associated with energy, resources and cost.
Coal, gas, oil and nuclear power are pollution-causing resources while hydro and wood-burning energy production can cause ecological damage. Building a safe, reliable and decentralized powered grid that is entirely powered by renewable resources is the vision of the LBC to supply energy to buildings that are designed to be efficient.
Further technological innovation is needed to advance these renewable energy systems, as well as improving the costs associated with implementation.
Imperative 6: Net-Positive Energy
This is probably the most easily achievable Imperative of the Living Building Challenge.
Projects must provide an on-site energy storage system. For single-family residences, sufficient battery back-up power must be installed to provide emergency lighting (at least 10% of the normal lighting load) and refrigeration use for up to one week.
In my opinion the fact that our homes are not 100% energy independent and are built in such an inefficient and wasteful manner is the single most frustrating thing to me in the way we have designed and built our homes for decades. It is entirely avoidable and unacceptable.
Complete energy independence and self-sufficiency is easily achievable and should be standard for every home that is built.
What can be often overlooked in recent trends to use renewable energy sources such as solar power is that it is not as simple as slapping some solar panels on the roof. An efficient and effective energy system is the result of smart design and construction that reduces the amount of energy a home consumes and wastes through inefficient design and construction methods.
Designing a home that meets the needs of the family who dwells in it and maximizes its energy potential should be the standard on every project, and is often a direct response to the site and its natural environment.
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.