Recycled Interiors Podcast 0022: Living Building Challenge

sustainable design and architecture on the recycled interiors blog

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This episode of the Recycled Interiors Podcast looks at the Living Building Challenge with Sustainable Consultant Ken Long, and how this can be used as a framework for our built environment. Ken has a deep passion for the creation of built environments which enable positive quality of life.  He is a sustainability consultant at dsquared Consulting, an Adelaide based studio delivering sustainable solutions in the built environment.  Ken has completed a Bachelors of Architecture from the New York Institute of Technology, a Certificate of Regenerative Ecological Design from the Ecosa Institute in Prescott, Arizona, and a Masters of Sustainable Design from the University of South Australia.
Ken has been involved with the Adelaide Sustainable Building Network since 2011, through which he strives to reinforce the values of sustainable design thinking with the building industry and general public.  Ken is also an Ambassador of the International Living Future Institute, actively promoting the design parameters of the Living Building Challenge, with the aim to usher a new era of design and building which focuses on regeneration ecology and the improvement of human lives.
One thing which all built environments should do/have to be more sustainable:
Include Composting Toilets.
Fun Stuff:
On the lighter side Ken is an avid gardener, likes to play basketball, cycle around Adelaide and is working on a solid free hand handstand.

Flowers for your decorating inspirationThings you will want to remember from the show

  • We need to consider creation of environments that are beneficial to people rather than just pretty pictures, when it comes to architecture and design
  • We should touch the earth lightly with our built environment, which then translates into how we impact people
  • Culture can have an impact on how we see the built environment and our respect for others
  • You can live in an easier way on the earth by being responsible for your own actions
  • We should not be screwing people over with anything we do!
  • Sustainability can be embedded into a building project in a number of ways – multiple strategies can be implemented
  • An expert in sustainable design such as Ken, can help survey the options available, and work out via things like computer simulation and return on investment studies, what are the elements that can be built into the project
  • This may include energy efficiency strategies, what is inside the home, the products being used, air quality, mechanical systems, how you will generate energy and the most viable options, water strategy, how to collect water if possible, waste management and building’s embodied carbon footprint
  • Get experts in early in the process is the best way to go – if you get sustainability experts in too late then it will be a lot harder to get the most gain from the project
  • Sustainability Consultants may be part of a large engineering firm – in the residential sector there are energy assessors and people specific to aspects of the project
  • If you have the right designer they will include sustainability into the design – but this is not always the case

The Living Building Challenge – the vision is to create built environments that have a positive impact on society and the environment

  • It is all about the language and the message – they want you to think about buildings like a plant or flower – they have similarities – they are both rooted to place, but plants and flowers have adapted to generate all the energy they need on site, they take care of themselves in terms of water and nutrients, they live in harmony with their surroundings and their neighbours, when they die they just become part of the system again – why can’t we take this analogy to our built environment?
  • While buildings are living they should be able to filter water, filter air etc
  • It is a standard they are trying to set so that people can ask for these as a framework when building
  • It is all about performance so projects must meet the different imperatives of the challenge

There are 7 petals to the Living Building Challenge:

  1. Place – how does the built environment include things like urban agriculture, car free living
  2. Water – how do you make sure the project is self sufficient with water as far as possible and that water going off site is not polluted
  3. Energy – energy independent sites, resiliency and environmental impact
  4. Materials – how we advocate for materials with lower carbon footprint, don’t contain chemicals that may adversely affect people, materials and labour sourced in a 500km radius
  5. Health and Happiness- how do we create environments with daylight and natural ventilation, civilised environments so people can engage with each other, have contact with nature in the home, opportunities to engage with nature, value it and respect it
  6. Equity – how does the built environment create a more equitable home – how you invest
  7. Beauty – in essence this is what underpins everything – without our built environments being beautiful it does not matter how much energy it saves, or water it collects – if it is not beautiful it will not inspire us and will not have staying power and will be written off – a lot of green buildings in the past people said were ugly which does not get people on board
  • If all of these elements are important to you then why not use this framework to guide your conversations with your building project team
  • This is an international approach and can be adapted to the area in which you are living – buildings need to change depending on the environment in which they sit, just like plants do

Adelaide Sustainable Building Network
Adelaide Sustainable Building Network Videos
Please head to iTunes to subscribe and leave us a review if you love the show as it helps us to get it out there and make a difference. You can also listen on Stitcher and leave a review over there, or just sit back and listen on the blog.
Helen xx

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