Living Building Challenge - intro

Living Building Challenge.


You may or may not know, but in the field of Built Environment there are many different environmental rating systems by which the performance and environmental cost of buildings can be assessed. Systems can rely on pre construction modeling, during construction commitments and post construction evaluations to provide an overall rating of any building.


Australia has a few rating systems that have been around for a number of years.


NABERS, which is a performance-based, rating system for existing buildings. NABERS rates a building on the basis of its measured operational impacts on the environment, and provides a simple indication of how well you are managing these environmental impacts


Green Star is a comprehensive, national, voluntary environmental rating system that evaluates the environmental design and construction of buildings. Green Star covers a number of categories that assess the environmental impact that is a direct consequence of a projects site selection, design, construction and maintenance. The nine categories included within all Green Star rating tools are:

Management, Indoor Environment Quality, Energy, Transport, Water, Materials, Land Use & Ecology, Emissions and Innovation.

Here at Pidcock we have more recently taken an interest in The Living Building Challenge, run by the International Living Future Institute. This is by far the most comprehensive environmental certification standard we have heard of. Developed in the United States of America it is unlike the other assessment schemes as it's an 'all or nothing' certification rather than a rating.


As described in their outline, The Living Building Challenge is attempting to raise the bar. It defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions. This certification program covers all building at all scales and is a unified tool for transformative design, allowing us to envision a future that is Socially Just, Culturally Rich and Ecologically Benign.


The Living Building Challenge is a cohesive 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 single act of design and construction made the world a better place? What if every intervention resulted in greater biodiversity; increased soil health; additional outlets for beauty and personal expression; a deeper understanding of climate, culture and place; a realignment of our food and transportation systems; and a more profound sense of what it means to be a citizen of a planet where resources and opportunities are provided fairly and equitably?


Initially a project must be categorised in one of the four typologies; Renovation, Landscape or Infrastructure, Building and Neighborhood. The typology then determines the project's imperatives, under the 7 'Petals', Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty.


As stated by the Living Building Challenge, 'This standard is an act of optimism and belief that with the right tools in the hands of passionate, literate and sensitive individuals, a revolutionary transformation is possible." For more information visit,


Pidcock is looking forward to learning more about this great challenge and working on a way we can incorporate it in our future work, so stay tuned!



-Rhys Leitch

Add Comment: