We’re a mere two weeks removed from the midterm elections, so you might expect me to reflect on the outcomes. But frankly, I think there has been enough coverage of that already. What’s on my mind today are the wildfires terrorizing California—and how we might reduce future risks.

Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown held a press conference after surveying the fires in Ventura County and his words struck a chord with me:

“Going forward, we are going to take a lot of steps that aren’t so easy,” he said. “We’re going to have to manage our forests better. We’re going to have to build our cities more smartly. We’re going to have to build shelters so people can escape when these terrible fires get out of hand. And yes, we’re going to have to deal with climate change,” he concluded.

His note about climate change got me thinking about our role as an industry, in helping the situation.

As much as builders and consumers have embraced green and sustainable construction materials and techniques, more aggressive programs may still be required in order for them to do their part in slowing climate change. And one response to this is the Living Building Challenge.

Known as LBC, the program takes a much bolder approach when compared to other green building certifications. Williams College put it best when describing an LBC project on its campus: Where LEED’s goals could be summarized as “Do less harm,” the Living Building Challenge’s tagline might be “Fix the damage.”

Where other certifications aim to make improvements, when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability, different LBC levels aim for net-zero carbon, net-zero water and net-zero energy. In essence, living buildings give more than they take. LBC attempts to make buildings self-sufficient and sustainable, making it among the most rigorous standards available in the world.

As great as the concept might seem, there are just a few high-profile projects that have been built to the LBC standard, yet there’s so much potential and so many impacts living buildings can make.

“The View from Here” is that, like the early days of green building, more aggressive programs like this need to generate more publicity and we all need to be aware of what’s possible in building science today. It’s up to us to make a positive impact and perhaps play a role in preventing future natural disasters.

What’s your View? Email me directly at eric.jackson@quanex.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *