The Living Building Challenge: Make the World a Better Place

Note to Reader:

On December 3, 2013 the Partnership for Water Sustainability and the Irrigation Industry Association of BC (IIABC) are joining forces to co-host a workshop that will explore regulatory requirements, water balance benefits and practical applications of rainwater harvesting design and operation. The workshop is structured as four cascading modules.

TO REGISTER for the workshop, go to the IIABC website:

TO DOWNLOAD a copy of the Program Overview, click on Get Your Mind Into the Gutter: A Workshop on Rainwater Harvesting in British Columbia.


Bullitt Center_elevation schematic

Bullitt Center in Seattle – section view of the planet’s “greenest” office facility


If We “Design with Nature”, We Can Make the World a Better Place

2005_Ted-van-der-Gulik_120p“When the Directors of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC made the decision to organize the Get Your Mind Into the Gutter Workshop in partnership with the Irrigation Industry Association of BC (IIABC), little did anyone anticipate what a powerful line-up the organizing team would put together,” reflects Ted van der Gulik, one of the driving forces behind the workshop. “It is analogous to an elite hockey team that can ice three first-class forward lines.”

“An unexpected outcome of workshop program development is that we are shining the spotlight on The Living Building Challenge. This focus is the result of connecting with the right individuals at the right moment in time. We are excited to have both Mark Buehrer and Ron Schwenger participating. Both are leaders in the Living Building movement.”

Ron-Schwenger_120p“Ron Schwenger from British Columbia was a member of the award-winning project team that designed and implemented Canada’s first Living Building, namely: the new visitors centre at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens in the City of Vancouver. Ron’s responsibilities encompassed the green roof system.”

Mark Buehrer 2011_120p“Mark Buehrer from Washington State was a member of the project team that brought to fruition the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation’s vision for the planet’s ‘greenest’ office facility, namely the Bullitt Center. Mark’s responsibilities encompassed the ‘closed loop’ water system requirements of the Living Building Challenge.”

“The Living Building module at the Get Your Mind Into the Gutter Workshop provides an opportunity to inform and educate Partnership and IIABC members. In general, the focus of our members is on water supply and how water is applied to the land, and how water runs off the land when the landscape is altered and it rains. Because of the 100% Water Re-Use Target, the Living Building Challenge is clearly an essential building block in a ‘Design with Nature’ approach to land development.”

“Mark Buehrer and Ron Schwenger are innovative practitioners who are demonstrating how we can make the world a better place, one project site and one building at a time,” concludes Ted van der Gulik.

Mark-Buehrer_Greenfire Campus in Ballard area of Seattle

Greenfire Campus in Ballard, Washington

The Living Building Challenge

The Living Building ChallengeTM is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard. It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements, including net zero energy, waste and water, over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy.

The Living Building Challenge is a cohesive “deep green” building standard, pulling together the most progressive thinking from the worlds of architecture, engineering, planning, landscape design and policy. It challenges us to ask the question: What if every intervention resulted in greater biodiversity, increased soil health, added outlets for beauty and personal expression, realigned food and transportation systems, and a deeper understanding of climate, culture and place?

“What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place? That is the test put forward by the Living Building Challenge, and one of the guiding principles for Greenfire Campus in Ballard, Washington,” writes Mark Buehrer in an article published by the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce in May 2013.

To Learn More:

To download a copy of the Program Overview, click on Get Your Mind Into the Gutter: A Workshop on Rainwater Harvesting in British Columbia.

To preview the perspectives that the Module C team will provide on December 3rd, click on the links below:

Mark Buehrer: The Bullitt Center in Seattle: The planet’s ‘greenest’ office facility?

Ron Schwenger: CENTS & SUSTAINABILITY: Making the business case for Living Architecture in an economically driven world

Living Building Challenge