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How to Create a Successful Living Building Challenge Project

The Living Building Challenge is not an easy standard to hit. Take these tips from an expert who has successfully achieved certification at his building.

By Ronnie Wendt  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Net Positive Energy: One Facility's Success StoryPt. 2: This Page

The Wolf River Environmental Learning Center earned Living Building Challenge certification and is Net Positive Energy facility. Executive Director Peter Smerud discusses why the Wolf River Environmental Learning Center selected the Living Building Challenge (LBC).  

“It takes commitment by those who want to lead in their respective industries,” he says. 

Having been through the process already, Smerud and Chrysanthi Stockwell, senior lighting designer at HGA Stockwell, offer several tips for other building managers about LBC: 

  • Read the entire standard. “Everything interconnects because LBC is so holistic,” Stockwell says. “When everyone involved reads the entire standard and gets a full understanding, they will be very proactive as they move forward. It gets everyone on board at the beginning.” 
  • Engage a contractor in the development stage. This ensures the buildability of the design. “We didn’t engage our contractor until we had completed 50 percent of the design,” Smerud says. “Earlier would have been better. But at least we brought them in before we completed the design.”  
  • Bring on a commissioning agent early. This helps everyone involved understand the design goals. “Getting the building to perform is challenging if you don’t understand the design goals,” he says. 
  • The project doesn’t end with occupancy. Education, training and continually optimizing building operation will keep the building operating sustainably over its useful life. “Normally occupancy is the completion point,” Smerud says. “That’s not the case here.”  

The journey to a holistic approach to sustainability begins by learning more about the Living Building Challenge. Learn more about Wolf Ridge here.

Ronnie Wendt is a freelance writer based in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

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  posted on 3/21/2022   Article Use Policy

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