New sustainable living building coming to D.C.

December 28, 2012

Just months after Washington D.C. passed new green building codes, building developers are focusing their attention on construction a sustainable "living building." The Living Building Challenge prompts builders to focus on seven aspects of constructing a structure – location, water and energy use, health, materials, social equity and beauty.

The Washington Post reports that a number of different green technologies have been incorporated into the design of the structure.
"It’s a matter of design, using photovoltaics like solar panels, geothermal energy, using biomass. . . it’s a building that produces as much energy as it uses," Brian Hanlon, director of the D.C. Department of General Services, told the news source. "We have to think of them as organisms in the urban environment."

The net-zero energy goal is being strived for by a few building developers across the nation. The Washington Post reports that the Canal Park's storm water management system and the plans for the new Ballou High School, which is located within the city limits, is attempting to be labeled as a living building project.

"It’s not about the environment, it’s about how we do business here," Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning told the news source. "We’re trying to use our resources more intensely, making sure we get the most out of our storefronts, buildings [and] roads."

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Living Building Challenge is one of 12 pilot programs awarded $4.5 million in grants. The entire initiative is part of the Sustainable D.C. Budget Challenge and has the intention of further promoting green solutions in property developing, city planning and construction.

"The city hopes to take the lead in what it means to be sustainable [and] to test the feasibility of major new investments and demonstrate a new way of doing business in the city government," Mayor Vincent C. Gray said.

Other cities and organizations are promoting the use of green construction with the development of new support systems. In Pennsylvania, the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is striving to improve green solution adoptions within the state. EEB Hub hopes to prompt building developers to adhere to new eco-friendly building practices to limit the environmental impact of large construction projects and improve the state's sustainability.