The Living Building Challenge was launched in 2006 by the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, a chapter of both the U.S. Green Building Council and the Canada Green Building Council (see EBN Vol. 15, No. 12). A stringent certification system, the Living Building Challenge consists of 16 prerequisites—there are no optional credits. No buildings have yet achieved certification, in part because the Challenge requires buildings to be operational for at least a year before being certified.

According to Eden Brukman, research director at Cascadia, at least 60 project teams are using the Challenge in some way in their design process. Cascadia is working with these teams to refine the rating system and expects to release a slightly revised version of the system, along with a users’ guide, by fall of 2008. A more substantial revision should be released by 2009.

Brukman acknowledges that meeting the requirements of the Living Building Challenge is not going to be easy—it’s not supposed to be. At the same time, Cascadia recognizes that market realities and building codes may make meeting some of the requirements impossible in some places. In those cases, project teams must document that they tried to change the market by asking local manufacturers to make what they need or appealed a code decision. “We see the Challenge as an advocacy tool,” Brukman said, noting that some projects have started larger conversations about building codes.

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