Cascadia's Challenge Moves Beyond Buildings
Following the tremendous response to its Living Buildings Challenge (see EBN ), the Cascadia Region Green Building Council unveiled its new “Living Site and Infrastructure Challenge” at Greenbuild 2007 in Chicago. This new system is modeled closely on its predecessor, with the same “all prerequisites, no credits” philosophy, in contrast to LEED’s approach in which most measures are optional. This tool “is part of a continuum,” said Jason McLennan, AIA, CEO of Cascadia and the system’s primary author, “from living buildings to living communities.” The Living Site and Infrastructure Challenge requirements parallel those of the Living Buildings Challenge, while building on them to better suit the outdoor setting. The major differences are the omission of requirements relating to indoor environmental quality and two new requirements, one in the “Beauty and Inspiration” category, called “Design for Biophilia,” and another in a new “Culture” category, called “Human Scale and Humane Places.” Although directed at green builders, the Living Buildings Challenge has also served as a challenge to the more mainstream LEED Rating System, urging it to be more aggressive. With this new system, Cascadia has a similar opportunity to set a high bar: a consortium of organizations, the Sustainable Sites Initiative, is currently developing a landscapes rating system with parallels to LEED (see EBN ). McLennan said that the Cascadia Challenge is intended not to compete with that effort but rather to set an ambitious performance target. “They’re the experts in all the how-to’s,” he noted. Heather Venhaus, of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and project manager of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, called Cascadia’s approach “brilliant,” adding that it “has a good conceptual layout of what site sustainability is.” Consistent with McLennan’s assessment, Venhaus noted that “the strength of the Sustainable Sites Initiative is that it is being developed by experts in the sites industry.” Sustainable Sites has just released the first of three planned reports leading up to the release of a rating system pilot in 2009. That report includes the outlines of a potential rating system that is less ambitious in some of its targets than Cascadia but much more specific and technical in its approach. Both groups expressed interest in collaborating as they move forward, and both are currently seeking input on their initial documents: Cascadia through informal means and participation on committees that have yet to be established and Sustainable Sites through a public comment period that runs until January 11, 2008, at . Based on the first year’s use of the Living Buildings Challenge, McLennan reports that its three hardest requirements are those for net-zero energy use, for net-zero water use, and for avoiding certain hazardous materials. All three also appear in the Site and Infrastructure Challenge, but he is hopeful that achieving them in this context won’t be quite as daunting. McLennan’s next target is a “Living Communities Challenge,” which he plans to release at Cascadia’s April 2008 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also hopes to have an update of the Living Buildings Challenge in time for that event.
Jason McLennan, AIA, CEO
For more information:
Jason McLennan, AIA, CEO
Cascadia Region Green Building Council
December 1, 2007
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EBN: What's Happening - November 2007
EBN: What's Happening - December 2006