News Brief

Fuller Challenge Passes Over Living Building Challenge, Recognizes "Operation Hope"

On June 2, 2010, the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) announced the winner of its Buckminster Fuller Challenge, which asked entrants to provide workable solutions to significant challenges such as water scarcity, food supply, and energy consumption. The $100,000 prize was awarded to Operation Hope, which reversed desertification on 6,500 acres of grassland in Zimbabwe, restoring aquatic and land species to the area and increasing the inhabitants’ ability to graze livestock.

The Living Building Challenge (see The Living Building Challenge: Can It Really Change the World? for more), a holistic and rigorous system for rating buildings that have minimal environmental impact, was one of the six finalists.

Entries to the annual competition must present fully integrated solutions to problems, using a whole systems approach to “simultaneously address multiple goals, requirements, conditions and issues,” according to BFI. They must also anticipate future problems and conditions, be ecologically responsible, and be feasible, verifiable, and replicable.

Finalists in this year’s competition included concepts for making the built environment mimic ecological systems. From “eco-boulevards” designed for Chicago that capture and infiltrate stormwater and wastewater to a greenhouse that mimics the natural water cycle, the entries address a variety of problems.

Speaking for the jury at the National Press Club, Hillary Brown, founder of New York City’s Office of Sustainable Design, said that the jury asked three questions with each entrant: “Does it minimize man's ecological footprint? Does it add value? Is it fair?” She added that through its deliberations, the jury “came to recognize that the forces of ecological degradation, climate instability, and the loss of heritage are not disaggregated threats to humankind, but that they have converged on one and the same peril.”

More on the competition is available at BFI’s website. The Challenge was inspired by Buckminster Fuller, an inventor, author, and teacher who held an intention “to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone.”


Published June 2, 2010

Wendt, A. (2010, June 2). Fuller Challenge Passes Over Living Building Challenge, Recognizes "Operation Hope". Retrieved from

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