News Brief

Living Building Challenge 4.0 Released alongside New “Core” Program

The latest version of LBC adds flexibility to materials and water requirements, while Core meets a separate market need.

A ladder diagram of ILFI certifications

This diagram shows all the International Living Future Institute certifications, including the new Core standard, which now forms the basis of both Petal and Living certification.

Image: International Living Future Institute
The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has announced updates to its stringent Living Building Challenge (LBC) standard as well as the rollout of a new, related certification called Core. With Core, ILFI moves into the previously taboo realm of rewarding relative improvements (as opposed to absolute achievements, like net-positive energy), but it holds the line on actual, measured performance.

ILFI held dialogues with the first 100 project teams and spoke with auditors to elicit feedback on LBC certification before changing the standard, according to Amanda Sturgeon, FAIA, executive director at ILFI. “We have shown that it’s possible; now we need to show that it’s scalable,” she said. With the new version, LBC 4.0, ILFI aims to simplify the program and eliminate barriers “while maintaining the intent,” Sturgeon emphasized.

LBC consists of “petals”—which are categories of requirements, like Energy, Water, and Materials—and “imperatives,” the specific measures that must be met in order to achieve certification.

Some of the major updates in LBC 4.0 include:

  • the addition of a new imperative called Inclusion, which requires a certain percentage of contracted businesses either to have a Just label (another ILFI certification) or to be minority, women, or disadvantaged business enterprises
  • the splitting of both Water and Energy petals into two imperatives each, one Core (requiring baseline performance characteristics) and one Living (requiring net-positive performance)
  • the option of “hand-printing” for the Water petal, a way of offsetting your footprint by contributing to positive changes elsewhere
  • two new requirements under the Energy petal—an energy use intensity (EUI) minimum and strategies for reducing and offsetting embodied carbon
  • name changes for a variety of imperatives
  • fundamental Red List updates, including a new focus on chemical classes instead of specific chemicals and a revised requirement that teams meet the Red list for 90% rather than 100% of materials

LBC Petal certification will see changes as well, with the requirement that all projects achieve ten specific imperatives in addition to one complete petal—Energy, Water, or Materials. This is to ensure that all Petal-certified projects are meeting baseline green building criteria.

Those same ten imperatives comprise the Core standard. Core “hits where there is a gap in the market between the highest levels of other green certifications and LBC,” said Sturgeon. The ten Core imperatives are:

  • Ecology of Place
  • Human-Scaled Living
  • Responsible Water Use
  • Energy + Carbon Reduction
  • Healthy Interior Environment
  • Responsible Materials
  • Universal Access
  • Inclusion
  • Beauty + Biophilia
  • Education + Inspiration

All ILFI projects, including those pursuing Core, must provide one year of performance data in order to be certified.

Several organizations have committed to piloting the new standard. These include Google, PCC Markets, King County, Community Rebuilds, and the BLOCK Project. “This is a moment for all of us right now to really be able to move the needle, to scale in a way that we have not been able to before,” said Mary Davidge, global director of design at Google. “Together we can really change the global design and construction industry.”

Update: This article was revised on May 3, 2019, to add information about organizations piloting the new standard.

More on the Living Building Challenge

Take Control of Your Materials: Four Empowering Lessons from Teams that Beat the Red List

How to Succeed with the Living Building Challenge: 12 Teams Share Tips

Petal Certifications Help the Living Building Challenge Jump in Scale

Published May 2, 2019

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