Contest Inspires Designers to Look to the Future

July 9, 2010

International Living Building Institute announced its “Living City Design Competition” in May.  The contest challenges design teams to take an existing city and turn it into a “Living City,” according to the requirements of the Living Building Challenge 2.0.

Living Building Challenge 2.0 is a joint venture between Cascadia Green Building Council and the International Living Building Institute, and focuses on six “petals” of the built environment: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.  Achievement in all petals is required, and is based on actual building performance, not just intended design.

There are four “typologies,” or tracts, for achieving certification: Renovation, Landscape or Infrastructure, Building, and Neighborhood.  Each typology has different requirements, or Imperatives, based on the scale of the project.  For example, a Landscape or Infrastructure project is not required to provide a Civilized Environment or Healthy Air, based on the interpretation of those Imperatives.

A “Living City,” according to the design contest, must have a vibrant street life that focuses on pedestrians and public transportation, have a “green city infrastructure” for water and waste, be net zero in energy and water use, and actively include agriculture in the community.  It is the ultimate in Green Living!

Contestants are encouraged to team up, though each team member must be part of the Living Building Community.  The presentation requirements call for two large color boards showing the city as it is today and how it would look as a Living City.  Renderings need to include both aerial and street-level views.  In addition, a narrative highlighting the features of the city is required.

There are several awards available, including a People’s Choice Award.  Prizes include cash, publicity, and a trip to the awards ceremony, Living Future 2011.  The deadline for entries is February 1, 2011.

The Living Building Challenge 2.0 is the most advanced measure of green building available at this time.  It pushes the envelope of what is truly sustainable and possible with today’s technology.  It is a very lofty goal for any project, let alone a whole city!  Just achieving net zero energy and water would be quite a feat in some of today’s cities.  It would be my wish that the winning designs are seriously considered for implementation, and that other design teams look to them as examples for their own projects.

Photo courtesy of the Living City Design Competition web site.



Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.