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Jason F. McLennan


Joanna Gangi


Krista Elvey




Erin Gehle Michael D. Berrisford Adam Amrhein, James Connelly, Krista Elvey, Eric Corey Freed, Joanna Gangi, Whitney Austin Gray, Ilaria Mazzoleni, Jason F. McLennan,

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Passing Through the Bottleneck: Humanity’s Final Gamble BY JA SON F. MCLENN A N







M AY 2 015 , I S S U E 2 5

Trim Tab is a quarterly publication of the International Living Future Institute, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.


From Roots to Canopy BY JOA NN A GA NGI + K RIS TA ELV E Y

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin BY ERIC CORE Y FREED

It’s Time to Stop Building Empires and Start Building Living Communities BY A DA M PAUL A MRHEIN


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Book Review: COWED


Building Adaptive Communities: Lessons from the Super-Organism


Designing for Health: Introducing the WELL Building Standard


Living Product Challenge: Metamorphosis

of Trim Tab is made possible by a generous grant from the Martin-Fabert Foundation. The International Living Future Institute is premised on the belief that providing a compelling vision for the future is a fundamental requirement for reconciling humanity’s relationship with the natural world. We created Trim Tab magazine to advance this vision and provide a source for in-depth information on emerging trends and leading edge ideas. We believe that printing Trim Tab will strengthen our reach while also providing an added benefit to our members, who are at the core of our mission. We kindly ask you to pass along the printed version to a fellow green building advocate once you have read it.




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7,664 LBS of wood, which is equivalent to 24 trees that supply enough oxygen for 12 people annually.

11,191 Gallons of water, which is enough water for 651 eightminute showers.

8mln BTUs of energy, which is enough energy to power the avg. household for 31 days.

679 LBS of solid waste, which would fill 148 garbage cans.

2,324 LBS of emissions, which is the amount of carbon consumed by 27 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.



s the planet warms, sea levels rise, carbon dioxide levels soar, and droughts increase, the future health of our planet and humanity becomes more uncertain. On the current trajectory, one might assume that the earth will be a very inhospitable place for future civilizations. This is an alarming and intimidating vision of the future, but it can also invoke a deep level of hope that will inspire necessary change. Climate change is an urgent matter for humanity to address in order to reconcile our relationship with the planet. At the Living Future unConference this past April, attendees were asked to reflect on the meaning of home and what it takes to truly transform the built environment. After the inspirational three days, attendees were refreshed and reinvigorated to return to their communities and push for urgent action.

This issue of Trim Tab recounts the visionary ideas of key leaders who are pushing humanity forward in this critical time, and explores their process of creating change. The Bullitt Center building stands as a bellwether for developers, architects, engineers and contractors to join the paradigm shift toward a more integrated and sustainable built environment. Adaptive communities that model the behavior of ants are examples of how to build evolutionarily sustainable communities. Messages from people like Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Denis Hayes and Gail Boyer Hayes remind us that urgent action must happen on a communal scale and that we must do more and do it better. These stories conjure hopefulness for a future where humans are true stewards of the planet and remind us that such a future is possible.

JOANNA GANGI International Living Future Institute Editorial Director of Trim Tab magazine








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PASSING THROUGH THE BOTTLENECK HUMANITY’S FINAL GAMBLE Like most people, I have good days and bad days. When it comes to looking at the future and thinking about the pressing social and environmental issues before us, it is easy to vacillate between hopefulness and hopelessness, optimism and pessimism. If you are paying attention, it is impossible not to feel agonizing despair when looking at the convergence of global challenges such as population growth and consumption levels, habitat and species decline, and the multiple negative impacts underway with global climate change. It is very possible to imagine a future scenario where the requirements for human civilization can’t be supported and life as we know it greatly diminishes—it is possible that humanity’s days are numbered.

But it is impossible not to feel optimistic when witnessing the incredible innovations and emergence of cutting-edge designs, ideas, projects and technologies to make our world a better place due to the outstanding PHOTO: ISTOCK


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work championed by amazing people and organizations all over the world. These examples instill hope that a truly living future is possible—a world where humanity fully participates in the beautiful cycle of regeneration in


“Biological diversity is messy. It walks, it crawls, it swims, it swoops, it buzzes. But extinction is silent, and it has no voice other than our own.” PAUL HAWKEN

which all other species are currently involved. Histori- else will save us, while we continue to consume and live cally, humans did participate in this cycle, but we must within the industrial and societal framework that is the cause of the global environmental decline. reconcile our role as stewards and a keystone species. A mature and nuanced way to deal with this is to be able to sit with the following seemingly contradictory feelings—accepting the gravity of the current environmental disturbances while maintaining hope. Losing hope has few benefits and only increases the likelihood of the first scenario of a pessimistic future of humanity coming true. Existing in hope without acknowledgement of the real possibility of human decline is at best living in delusion and at worst supports the lack of responsibility and accountability that comes from believing that someone

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While it’s easier to view the world and thoughts of the future in black-and-white terms—succumbing fully to either vision of the future—it is more mature to sit somewhere in the middle and acknowledge that the future has not yet been written while working our asses off to ensure that the positive living future is what we pass on to future generations. Let’s explore both sides of this duality.


THE DARK SIDE—TRENDS THAT FUEL HOPELESSNESS There are a number of global trends that should cause everyone great concern about the future. For the sake of this summary, I’m not even acknowledging potential catastrophes that are beyond our control, such as meteor impacts or supernovas capable of wiping out the planet with little to no notice. There are numerous scenarios that could conceivably end us, but it does little good to dwell on those—let’s save them for Hollywood action movies. It is important to acknowledge that all of the issues below are so heavily interconnected that it is hard to separate them. 1. POPULATION AND CONSUMPTION TRENDS

I have written previously about the exponentially increasing population which places immense strain on the planet’s carrying capacity (See the July 2014 issue of Trim Tab). Not only are there too damn many of us—more than seven billion humans are squeezed onto the earth, and population is projected to be eight-billion strong by 20241—but we appropriate too much of the earth’s resources to support ourselves. To make matters worse, consumption trends are increasing at an unhealthy pace, especially as developing countries begin to emulate the typical behavior of 1

“Lord save us all from old age and broken health and a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.” MARK TWAIN



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westernized countries’ reliance and overconsumption of natural resources. According to one estimate, worldwide private consumption expenditures have increased four-fold in the last half-century.2 2. CLIMATE CHANGE

While debate continues regarding the precise timing and severity of global climate change, there is undeniable evidence that the earth is warming at an alarming rate. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, natural causes (such as variations in how the sun’s energy reached Earth and changes in the planet’s atmospheric reflectivity) were largely to blame. However, the responsibility for climate change in the modern age—including the dramatic warming that has occurred in the past 75 years—falls squarely on human shoulders.3 Accordingly, in the coming decades, we should expect to see even more dramatic weather shifts, natural disasters, droughts, ocean acidification, disappearing glaciers, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels. 3. FAMINE, DROUGHT AND WAR

Climate change leads to food and water shortages, ecosystem diebacks, nutrient scarcity and hunger. Left unchecked, these conditions spread from microclimates to regions, ultimately threatening the stability of glob2 3

al food supplies and contributing to further desertification and resource challenges. History has shown that ecological crises typically raise questions about who has the right to Earth’s natural resources, particularly when they are in short supply. How will we feed our population (especially in regions already stretched thin by poverty and hunger) when water and soil are precious commodities? How will we deal with vast numbers of climate refugees who become displaced?

nuts may not be far behind.5 The more compromised global habitat diversity becomes, the greater the likelihood of species extinction and cascading effects that could ultimately undermine our very existence, given that humanity ultimately relies on thousands of other species for its survival and certainly for its well-being. So just as we are making the world less stable due to climate change, we are also undermining the very systems that could help us adapt.



The 2014 Ebola outbreak demonstrated how quickly illness can spread when international travel allows infected individuals to cross the globe in a matter of hours. The recent rash of measles only helped prove the point of how infectious diseases can become easily widespread with modern day travel. Yet imagine what is possible with something as highly transmittable and deadly as smallpox. As population numbers and densities climb, and as we are ever-more connected through a network of international airports, it doesn’t take long to envision certain infectious diseases spreading faster than they can be vaccinatated or treated. The consequences are potentially deadly. Then, once bacteria develop resistance to the antibiotics, the cycle starts anew. The age of antibiotics is perhaps coming to a scary end as even small skin infections can now turn deadly again.

The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi meltdown demonstrates that even the most sophisticated safeguards aren’t powerful enough to withstand the effects of a nuclear accident. With nuclear power present in more than two dozen countries (and nuclear weapons in at least nine6) the potential for catastrophe is very real—coupled with the potential for increased terrorist activity, humanity currently rests in a very precarious position. However, even simple human error—a cause for past nuclear disasters—is equally as dangerous. Any technology that requires constant vigilance for future generations is immoral and dangerous.


A healthy natural world is fundamental to the survival of all species. The more we degrade or destroy natural habitats, the greater the risk of species extinction. The World Wildlife Fund claims that habitat loss is the primary threat to 85% of all at-risk species.4 Human activities alter and sometimes eradicate entire ecosystems through the relentless pursuit of goods and services. This process of habitat elimination systematically threatens thousands of interdependent species, which makes everything less resilient to further disruptions. If honeybees become extinct, for example, they’ll take their pollinating capabilities with them, so fruits and

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Some researchers hypothesize that our technological innovations will one day progress to the point where artificial intelligence will exceed human brainpower, ultimately taking over civilization and relegating the human species to subservience...or worse. I tend to think this is very unlikely, but the concern itself is an important reflection of an existential crisis I believe humanity is experiencing. It’s not outrageous to question whether we will be rendered obsolete by machines, as this is already happening on a number of levels: grocery store checkouts, manufacturing and the use and capabilities of software, to name a few. Whether the contribution of human physical and intellectual labor will become obsolete in the modern industrial world is very real—leaving us potentially without purpose and with too much time on our hands—a dangerous combination. 5 6 13





With Living Buildings and net zero energy structures Among the encouraging innovations picking up speed developing around the globe, we are gradually creataround the world are the following promising examing a more sustainable built environment; the change ples, each of which instills a dash of hope that there’s is slow, but evident. One need only look at the Bullitt still time to change our trajectory: Center in Seattle, WA—a six-story, 52,000-square-foot commercial office Living Building that generates its 1. RAPID RISE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY own power and treats its own water without a drop of AND THE END OF THE FOSSIL FUEL ERA fossil fuels—to see what’s possible. If a Class A office We are on the cusp of an energy revolution driven by building in the cloudiest city in the lower 48 states can renewables. The cost per kilowatt hour of clean options operate without fossil fuels while retaining marketabil(with solar at the top of the list) continues to fall, which ity, then virtually anything is possible in the built enviallows these sustainable solutions to compete more ronment, anywhere in the world. Living Buildings are directly with traditional fossil fuels despite their subsinow emerging all around the world—in every climate dies. According to the International Renewable Energy zone and every building type—rapidly showing that a Agency, solar energy from photovoltaics is leading the new paradigm is possible for how we live and work. cost decline of all sources of renewables, with the cost of PV modules falling 75% since the end of 2009, and the 3. SUPER-EFFICIENT cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV falling 50% CONSUMER PRODUCTS since 2010.7 In spite of a recent sudden drop, which likely The advent of energy-conscious goods, from househas political underpinnings, petroleum prices will conhold appliances to electric cars, indicates that the continue to increase in parallel with renewable energy afsumer marketplace is ready and willing to embrace fordability. As soon as renewables become consistently smarter choices. Just as Tesla Motors has proven that the least expensive alternative, they will dominate the vehicles do not require combustion engines to delivenergy market—quickly and completely. In fact, this er performance and elegance, brands across numerchange may come about sooner rather than later. The ous product categories are simultaneously emerging fossil fuel divestment movement is gaining steam, aided as emblems of what is possible. Nest made a smart by the recent Global Divestment Day held in February, thermostat sexy. Comfy is changing our relationship 2015. Meanwhile, even in such notoriously polluted rewith heating and cooling through learning from ocgions as China, there is growing awareness of the need cupant behavior. Countless innovations are emerging for change in demand for renewable solutions.8 every day. The Institute launched the Living Product Challenge in 2014 as a call for all manufacturers to pro7 duce goods that support a living future. MenuID=16&CatID=84&News_ID=386 8


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A huge movement in support of buying local and organic is changing consumer expectations as well. Rising demand for greener, locally manufactured products will help realign toward positive environmental and social progress. 4. PEOPLE-CENTRIC COMMUNITIES

As we near the end of the fossil fuel era, a greater number of neighborhoods and cities are investing in infrastructure that supports people rather than automobiles. Clean public transportation options are becoming more plentiful, and our urban centers are becoming more walkable—people are moving out of the suburbs and into the cities­—vastly shrinking their ecological footprint in the process. 5. SUSTAINABLE FOOD PRODUCTION PRACTICES

The rise of organic food availability and a growing resistance to processed and genetically modified foods are taking us in a healthy direction. People are eating less red meat, and vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming more common. Even the shift from meat to insects offers a wonderful example of a possible positive menu change.9 With the livestock industry responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the transportation industry, more people are turning away from beef, chicken and pork, and choosing different options. A combination of hard work and good policy might strengthen the sustainable food movement


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to the point where it can meet the demands of a growing global population while retaining nimbleness and nutritional integrity in the world’s food supplies. 6. SLOWING BIRTH RATES.

Although global population numbers continue to rise, the actual pace of new births has begun to slow and is expected to keep doing so—perhaps even reaching the point of zero growth within our lifetimes (it took 12 years to increase from 5 to 6 billion inhabitants, but 13 more years to go from 6 to 7 billion.10 The list of nations experiencing negative population growth is increasing. Japan and Italy, for example, have been included in recent lists of nations with declining population rates, which some sources attribute to more broadly available contraception and a more empowered female demographic.11 Declining or replacement birthrates are increasingly common in developed countries—those that also tend to have the largest per-capita environmental footprint. 7. EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION

Technology has effectively created a global open-source classroom that is spreading information that can enrich and strengthen nations. Innovations in devices and connectivity give us a sense of power we’ve never before realized. We watch events unfold in real time from halfway around the world, which allows us to react and get involved, whether to help, participate or simply celebrate. We can interact and empathize with people and cultures that we previously never had the opportunity 10 population_may _actually _start_declining_not_exploding.html 11 and italian-birth-rate-continues-to-sink-and-drag-down-italian-life-satisfactio



to encounter. There is great promise in living in an era where everyone, regardless of economic status, can carry the internet in their pockets and be connected to a global community—allowing people opportunities to self-organize, stay current on issues and connect to rapid changes. New ways of communication and more powerful communication mediums offer hope that many people can’t be kept in the dark about issues that are important to their rights and survival. 8. WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Women around the world are gaining societal ground through great strides being made to increase educational, healthcare and leadership opportunities. Gender equality strengthens the global community’s chance to thrive—for too long, the majority of nations (both governmentally and socially) have operated under a patriarchy. Countries where women’s rights are most tenuous are often those with the most internal strife, violence and conflict.


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Hope stems, too, from enthusiastic new generations coming together and facing these challenges head-on, accepting responsibilities for the present and future health of the planet in ways their predecessors were unable and/or unwilling to do. In The Great Turning, David Korten describes how there is a growing number of people who are abandoning “the old story” and readily replacing it with a new paradigm that seeks to restore a healthy connection between humanity and the natural world—a system supportive of community rather than exploitation. This growing shift is documented in my book Zugunruhe and touched on in “Living Communities of the Future” in the February 2015 issue of Trim Tab.) A shift to a new positive paradigm will require people who are self aware and recognize the need for change—each day I have the pleasure to meet individuals who are dedicated to this migration.



We have placed ourselves in a great race to survive the consequences of our own actions—a wanton disregard for land, resources and life may have permanently diminished the environmental infrastructure necessary to sustain human life. Our consumptive tendencies may very well end up being the death of us.

We are most likely approaching a theoretical bottleneck, a point in time when human civilization either transforms or disappears. We’ll either pass through or be pinched back. With every passing month, year and decade of inactivity and denial, the consequences of our choices become more serious. We can’t continue to behave as we have—disregarding the damage and continuing the trends of consumption and impact. Because nature will reset, disregarding us.

Which trends will pull ahead and within what timeGiven both the dark and light trends in front of us, what frame? Will we manage to solve these critical envidoes this mean when mapped along a timeline? If we had ronmental and social issues in time to protect ourall the time in the world, I’m sure the greater opportuni- selves from extinction or massive die-off? Or have we ties of hope would certainly prevail, but if we did, then wreaked so much havoc that our mistakes are irrepawe also wouldn’t have to worry about the consequences rable? Are we facing an evolution to homo regenesis or of our slow rate of change. A responsible analysis must the end of Homo sapiens? always contain a time dimension. Given where we are today and the current trajectories, and given what sci- Will we dump fossil fuels and switch to a renewable ence is telling us, how do things really look? world in time for humans and earth to thrive?

But not the death of all living things. If the human race were to disappear, the planet would undoubtedly go on. In fact, it would likely thrive and rebound more quickly than any scenario where we become much better stewards of the planet. In his book, The World Without Us, Alan Weisman explores how Earth would respond in the absence of people. He theorizes that it wouldn’t take long for the planet to rebound and reinvent itself once it was rid of us. Modern humans act like an invasive species. It’s a sobering thought that all of the ecosystems that were here before humanity entered the industrial age would benefit from our extinction. But that’s dwelling on a perverse form of hopelessness—I’d rather imagine us making it. Humanity is capable of surviving, and I think we are also worthy of it. While our actions are often deplorable and our negative impact widespread, we are capable of extraordinary beauty, love, empathy, artistic expression—and ecological sensitivity. We are capable of truly becoming homo regenesis12—a species that purposefully acts to create greater positive conditions for all of life.

In the January 2013 issue of Trim Tab, I laid out a timeline called the Boundary of Disconnect, which depicts historic shifts in technology that allowed humans to nearly completely separate from nature in day-to-day existence. The argument is that sometime between the end of World War II and the 1960s, we crossed an invisible boundary in terms of population and planet-wide impact and entered a new age where we had to either intentionally realign how we do nearly everything, or suffer tragic consequences at some point in the next few decades. Here, I refine the graphic further with new categorizations of importance. Looking again at the trends in front of us, I map both the positive and negative scenarios on the timeline. Currently, we are residing in a period of time that I call the Lost Ecological Interlude—a period that will either continue to be marked with further lack of progress (coupled with more marked global environmental and societal side effects of our collective decision-making) or rapid positive change due to some or all of the positive trends highlighted in this article. This is of

12 T  o see the article in its entirety, visit Cascadia-Green-Building-Council/48027-Trim-Tab-v16/index.html#1.

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From the Boundary of Disconnect to the Homo sapien Bottleneck



200,000 BC


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1,000 AD

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300 MILLION PEOPLE 10,000 PEOPLE 275 PPM 2060




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Finally, we reach the Homo sapien Bottleneck, which will extend to sometime between 2030 and possibly 2100. Most likely this will be a period of incredible upheaval, the likes of which we have never seen and will be the most challenging period that humanity has ever faced. How we transition through this bottleneck (or if we will) will be directly proportional to the scale of our intervention and course correction, changing our ways in countries around the world. To date, our society hasn’t done very well with change when the implications for the change are distant in the future. We react well to immediate threats—and very poorly to long-term, systemic threats. But during the Homo sapien Bottleneck period, what was once “far off” will be a daily struggle and a challenge that will confront even the wealthiest among us. Change will be demanded with more immediate repercussions.



course the period we are in now—either the greatest blowout in our planet’s history—or, more positively, the beginning of the shift—what David Korten calls “the great turning.” One could peg the start of this period at the late 1960s to early 1970s with the beginning of the environmental movement to perhaps sometime in the 2030s. During this time it’s been possible to live and deny the reality of the quandary we are in (as so many have done) while increasing numbers of people become aware of the situation, but as the end of this short era comes to a close (likely in less than two decades) the dire situation will be impossible for anyone to ignore regardless of political bent—climate change and population pressures will ensure that.


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There is a very powerful human emotion that, while sad to point out, could very well work in our favor as we approach the bottleneck: grief and direct loss. Pondering very viscerally about what we have to lose could very well spur the compassion to take action that is critical to our own survival. We have been living in the Anthropocene for some time—losing species and habitat at alarming rates for many decades—but the losses have been largely distant, abstract threats for most in developed countries. Yet the distance between us and palpable loss is shortening, and what we will be confronted with will be evident to all in the coming decades. Consider the incredible sense of loss we’ll feel when nearly every major large mammal becomes extinct. What will we tell ourselves and our children when the last of the rhinos, giraffes, lions, polar bears, tigers, hippos, gorillas and many more actually disappear forever, as they are likely to do? What happens when the rainforest does disappear completely and the rains go with it? What happens when drought comes to a huge region in the heartland—and doesn’t leave? For most citizens of developed countries, such reports are bothersome but not fully real. We tend to watch en-

“I T’S A SOBERING THOUGHT THAT ALL OF THE ECOSYSTEMS THAT WERE HERE BEFORE HUMANITY ENTERED THE INDUSTRIAL AGE WOULD BENEFIT FROM OUR EXTINCTION. BUT THAT’S DWELLING AGAIN IN A PERVERSE FORM OF HOPELESSNESS—I’D RATHER IMAGINE US MAKING IT.” vironmental and biological depletions from a distance, which protects us from internalizing the loss the way we do when a loved one dies. We can turn off the channel and look away for only so long.

show the bottleneck squeezing us back for once and for all. Like George Orwell’s 1984 or Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, a late-21st-century year might very well be recognized as the likely date of our demise. This is not that far-fetched. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently moved their famous Doomsday Clock two minutes forward—to 11:57 p.m.—inching us perilously close to that organization’s predicted end of humanity.13 Nuclear proliferation and climate change inaction spurred the clock’s adjustment.

The bottleneck, though, will make loss evident to people in every corner of the world at an incredible magnitude. Species loss is just one indicator. All nations will be affected— though the poorest nations will continue to be the hardest hit, which will make the effects more immediate—profound changes will affect even those of us who have previously been blissfully detached. I would love for us to prove those atomic scientists wrong. Environmental harm will trigger powerful emotional responses. The abundance of loss will turn grief into I’m not a betting man, but I would still lay down odds an everyday human experience. Parents will have to ex- that we have it in us to make it. That we can evolve and plain to their children that animals used to live not just that we will find the love in our hearts and passion for at the zoo but in the wild; that there was a time when life to change how we see ourselves, each other and rats and squirrels were not the largest animal species our place on the earth. Our innovations, convictions found in cities; that our once bio-diverse planet used and sheer survival instincts will work in our (and in to bloom with a rich assortment of plants and flow- the planet’s) favor. The bottleneck will greatly restrict ers. That the whole foods we used to eat are now gone, our options, and huge dark days lie ahead, but I remain along with the pollinators and the landscapes that are hopeful that we’ll figure out how to make the necesaltered and diminished beyond recognition. sary massive societal changes to see ourselves through. Besides, what choice do we have? At some point, the looming fear of loss has to wake us up—even those fervent climate-change deniers among us who want to keep things the way they are and use a couple weeks of cold weather as proof of the lack of cli- 13 mate change. Grief, if harnessed effectively, could very well guide us through the bottleneck.

TICK TOCK On my dark days, I wonder if we’ll even make it to the end of this century. I worry that scientists will soon predict a point on the calendar at which their data

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JASON F. MCLENNAN is the CEO of the International Living Future Institute. He is the creator of the Living Building Challenge, as well as the author of five books, including his latest: Transformational Thought.






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The Living Building Challenge is distinguished from any other green building certification program because it’s based on actual performance—not on modeled or anticipated outcomes. The 12-month performance period begins once construction is complete and the building has at least 85% occupancy (determined by rental appraisal standards). Achieving the Challenge hinges upon the effectiveness of a design in real time, and in the real space.

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“What distinguishes the Challenge from any other green building certification program is that it’s based on actual performance—not modeled or anticipated outcomes.” If you have been tuned into the Institute for the past few years, you have no doubt heard mention of the remarkable Bullitt Center. Perhaps you are among the thousands of folks who have toured the building, ascended the irresistible stairwell, gazed out to the stunning Seattle skyline or peered into the depths of the composting toilets. For you, it may seem that this story has been told. When the Bullitt Center opened its doors in April of 2013, the performance models indicated exemplary results, but it was time to see how the building functioned with tenants, not just in models and projections. So when the Bullitt Center received full Certification under Living Building Challenge 2.0 in March 2015, it wasn’t a continuation of a well-told tale—it was a landmark event. The six-story commercial of-


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fice building, using solar energy for its sole source of power, reached well beyond net zero energy in a city that is enshrouded by 226 days of heavy cloud coverage annually. The achievement began with a simple question: can a building act as efficiently as a tree? Roots and Branches—From Ground to Sky

Today, the Bullitt Center stands as a six-story, Class A commercial office building on the cusp of the Capitol Hill (the Hill) neighborhood that borders the Central District (CD) in Seattle, WA. Aside from the obvious challenges of designing the building to the highest level of efficiency, the project team needed to ensure that the new building could integrate within the immediate community and serve as a positive asset to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Capitol Hill and the Central District are distinctly different neighborhoods. The Hill is bustling with some of Seattle’s hippest bars and restaurants; consequently, it is plagued with skyrocketing rental rates and many new developments. The CD has more single-family residences and less commercial space. In the midst of these neighborhoods is the project site—an oddly shaped, sloped lot that was previously occupied by a small local bar. In the adjacent lot to the west (previously disjointed by 15th Avenue) stood a small, desolate, triangular park. The project team was faced with the unique challenge of best integrating the building into such an eclectic space. The City of Seattle was integral in fusing the project site with the adjacent park by closing off 15th Avenue and revamping it into a pedestrian walkway. Berger

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Partnership, the project landscape architect, redesigned and replanted the park to create an inviting green space for locals to converge. Now named McGilvra Place Park, the space recently received the world’s first Living Park Certification—a testament that the itch to build more thoughtful spaces is contagious. Finally, the site stands as a delightful conversation piece for Seattle residents and visitors alike. Every day, passersby stop to take pictures and gaze up at the Bullitt Center’s 14,000-square-foot photovoltaic array or to rest on the reclaimed wood benches in McGilvra Place Park. Materials

The Bullitt Center is a Type IV heavy timber structure, made of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)


certified glulam beams and dimensional lumber. All materials used in the building were screened for compliance with the Challenge’s Materials Red List to restrict toxic chemicals, which creates a healthy indoor environment for tenants. The process of vetting materials and obtaining the proper documentation for materials compliance is complex. Most products move through intricate supply chains, and many have proprietary ingredients making screening difficult. One of the notable leaders in the materials selection and implementation process is Prosoco, the manufacturer of FastFlash, a wet-applied air and water barrier. The project team chose FastFlash due to the product’s industry-leading performance in building durability and energy efficiency. They were initially unable to use the product due to the inclusion of phthalates, a Red List ingredient, in the chemical content. Prosoco responded, removing phthalates from their entire product line, including FastFlash, and is now participating in Declare SM , the Institute’s ingredients transparency label program. The windows in the Bullitt Center provide another example of industry leadership in the pursuit of high-performance design. The project team selected Schuco, a Germany-based window manufacturer, but was unable to utilize Schuco’s high-performance windows because the manufacturer was located outside of the appropriate sourcing range. Schuco worked with the project team and licensed their technology to Goldfinch Brothers, a local window company located in Everett, WA, which, in turn, greatly reduced the embodied carbon associated with transporting materials. Schuco’s willingness to license their technology to other manufacturers and thus encourage distributed manufacturing is a pioneering model for the product industry. Energy

The Bullitt Center has received extensive media attention and various accolades, the most notable


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being “The Greenest Office Building in the World.” The acclaim is well deserved, as the project is the first of its kind at this particular scale. The Center is powered by a 244 kW rooftop solar array, composed of 575 PV panels. Seattle is infamous for cloudy skies and rainy, damp winters, yet in its first year, the Bullitt Center has produced a surplus of nearly 100,000 kWh, and has operated with an actual Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 10. A standard Class A commercial office building in the United States operates at an EUI of 92; the Bullitt Center project team performed extensive energy

“The Center is powered by a 244 kW rooftop solar array, composed of 575 PV panels. Seattle is infamous for cloudy skies and rainy, damp winters, yet in its first year the Bullitt Center produced a surplus of nearly 100,000 kWh, and operated with an actual EUI of 10.”

modeling and aimed for an EUI of 16. In order to achieve the aggressive energy model, the project team focused on maximizing daylighting potential with the floor plan, and created a cantilevered solar array over the public right-of-way, which is air space leased from the city of Seattle. The design team worked to find every possible efficiency, technology and solution while also maintaining a comfortable work environment for occupants. The building’s performance has surpassed the original target, with an EUI of 10 at 85% occupancy. Projections show that at 100% occupancy, the building will perform at an EUI of approximately 12.

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Prior to the Bullitt Center, there was no clear precedent for the permitting of an on-site composting system and greywater treatment facility in Washington State. The Bullitt Center team are working with regulators from Washington State, King County and the City of Seattle to change regulations and design rainwater collection and on-site waste treatment systems for the building. Visitors of the building often mention the compositing toilets as one of the most notable aspects.


244 kW rooftop solar array produces more electricity than the building uses per year.

Eleven 100-yearold sycamore trees provide urban refuge in McGilvra Place Park.

Triple-pane wind automatically op to regulate indoo temperature.

Building-integrated bioswales infiltrate treated greywater.


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Exterior blinds reduce glare and prevent incoming solar radiation from heating the space.

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Bicycle garage and showers throughout the building encourage human-powered transportation.

Floor to ceiling windows maximize daylighting. trim tab


Composting toilets are located on each f loor of the building, and these no-f lush toilets produce a bubbly foam in their bowls and require only a quarter cup of water per use. After processing in the composting units located in the basement, the fertilizer is then processed at a secondary facility that meets the criteria of Washington’s Department of Ecology. King County and the Bullitt Center together have developed a process to send the leachate to the county’s treatment facility, where it will be filtered using natural processes and eventually used to restore a native wetland.

Park contribting to the replenishment of the natural aquifer. These systems were designed to complement the municipal infrastructure and to demonstrate how the demands of a growing population can be met with sustainable innovation. A Replicable Model

The wide variety of performance-based attributes at the Bullitt Center are shared with the public through an ongoing tour program, a public exhibition space, and a number of research projects, all managed by the University of Washington’s Center for Integrated Design. For so many people, from school-aged chilThe building’s greywater is filtered, stored, and then dren getting their first dose of sustainable design to treated in a constructed wetland (visible on the build- seasoned architects and engineers learning about ing’s third-story roof). Once the greywater has been the innovative ground source heat pumps, the Bullitt treated and cleaned to meet the city- and state-ap- Center stands as living proof in the pursuit of buildproved standards that were established as a result of ings that perform as efficiently as nature. this project, it infiltrates into a green planting strip located between the building and McGilvra Place


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Every person who was involved in making the Bullitt Center a reality is a pioneer in the green building movement. Regulatory, manufacturing and design reform were critical in this endeavor. Building performance continues to showcase the hard work, dedication and cooperation that were required from the beginning.


In nature, design elements and functionality are indistinguishable from aesthetic features. This is in stark contrast to standard construction where mechanical systems are hidden, and waste is an eyesore that is quickly transported to the proverbial “away”. In the Bullitt Center, the solar array is artful and prominent, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide ample daylight and the composting system incites inquisitiveness, a lovely parallel to the natural world and testament to the biomimetic design features of the building. The Bullitt Center is the first commercial office space that captures and uses all of the water that falls onto the roof and harnesses more energy than it uses—in this way, it performs much like the venerable, 100-year-old sycamore trees that stand right outside its walls.

Structural Engineering: DCI Engineers

Architect: Miller Hull Development Partner: Point 32 MEP Engineering: PAE Consulting Engineers

Photovoltaic Design and Engineering: Solar Design Associates General Contractor, Core & Shell: Schuchart General Contractor, Tenant Improvements: Foushee Water Systems: 2020 Engineering Landscape Architect: Berger Partnership Lighting: Luma Lighting Design

NEW BOOK, Fall 2015: THE GREENEST BUILDING: How the Bullitt Center Changes the Urban Landscape

Project photos: Nic Lehoux

Take a deep dive into the extraordinary tale of how the Bullitt Foundation leadership along with a talented team of deep green design professionals innovated, crafted and created what might just be the most notable commercial green building achievement in the world. JOANNA GANGI is the Communications + Editorial Director at the Internatioanl Living Future Institute. When not working she enjoys exploring nature with her family.

KRISTA ELVEY is the Assistant Editor of Trim Tab and Communications Coordinator for the International Living Future Institute.

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Spring 2015



IBRAHIM ABDUL-MATIN As well-intentioned and noble as the environmental movement has become, we’ve been notoriously poor at attracting and including diversity into our midst. As someone who has spoken at hundreds of conferences over the past two decades, my own anecdotal evidence is seen in a sea of white faces staring back me.  Even the concept of Environmental Justice is still a fairly new term, promoting the idea that environmental protections should extend to everyone, and be accessible to all.

climate change, we overlooked another macro issue of diversity all around us. A global movement seeking the support of as many people as possible has somehow failed to attract a third of the population! Van Jones (formerly Special Advisor for Green Jobs under President Obama) remarked, “Any movement or cause that’s racially exclusive will have less power and less influence.” He continues, ”I think the cause of having a livable, survivable environment is weakened by the fact that we have these divisions.”

In 2008, Grist Magazine cited lack of diversity as the “environmental movement’s greatest challenge.” The numbers would agree. People of color in the U.S. amount to approximately a third of the population (over 100 million people). By 2050, those numbers are projected to more than double. So it As advocates for the environmental movement, our seems that in fighting macro global issues, such as work is far from over.

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“All faith groups, including people who don’t believe in anything, are all having the same conversation about the end of everything.” You can see this concept in action within nature. The ecosystems that are the most diverse are also the ones most likely to survive. If the underlying intent of the modern day environmental movement is truly to reconnect us with nature, then we must embrace our differences and encourage more people to join us. At our recent Living Future unConference in April 2015, our closing keynote, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin brought the sold-out crowd to its feet with his inspiring talk that explored the nature of humanity on a very deep level. Mr. Abdul-Matin authored the book, “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet” which ties his faith in Islam to environmentalism.  In a time where the mere mention of the word “Muslim” can produce a reaction in people, his talk pushed everyone just past their comfort zone and challenged us all to do more and to do it better.  


Although you’re discussing your message from the perspective of being a Muslim, it is very universal. Is this deliberate? How cognizant are you of the fact that you need to make the message acceptable and understandable by everyone?


I think the funny thing in terms of faith groups is that most of the time interfaith work is about the beginning. There is disagreement or discussion about the nature of the beginning of creation, which has been the consistent narrative amongst different faith groups when they engage. All faith groups, including people who don’t believe in anything, are all having the same conversation about the end of everything. We’re all talking about how this world and way of life that we have created is going to unravel. Whether it is climate fear-mongers or doomsday preachers, it strikes me that we’re actually all talking about the same thing... we’re still figuring it out and trying to understand it. That’s the universal piece; it is that person yearning to figure it out, which is what connects us.

Mr. Abdul-Matin also works for the City of New York on environmental policy and helps make sure that New York City residents have a responsive government that helps bring water to their homes and takes their wastewater away.   ECF: In your book, you introduced this amazing concept that I never really thought of before, which is energy from We had the opportunity to chat with him at Living Fu- hell—from the ground, and energy from heaven—from ture in Seattle. above. The irony is that most of the oil in the world comes from the ground; it comes from places where there’s typically international conflict or war surrounding that re-


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source. Has our quest for the energy from hell added to the misunderstanding of Muslims in the world? IAM: The relationship that Muslims have to rethinking their relationship to the land is complicated. It’s coupled with a colonial past that basically said you don’t own the land that your ancestors are from. It’s created a sort of poison relationship. And now, we have a disconnected relationship as people who were taught how to make money using an extractive model from their colonizers and have internalized what is a passé notion of the good life. Formerly colonized people are trying to chase after this so-called “good life” by burning coal and things of the like just to show that they can build as big as this and that. There is a really bad cycle that we’re locked in so that the only definition of good is something that’s destructive.

I don’t know if we quite have the courage yet to change from this destructive paradigm. Part of the tension is from the West moving away from the notion that fossil fuels are the answer. We have to remember that there were a lot of unintended consequences for the world to get to where it is now. Even if we are moving away from it, a lot of people are still stuck in that mindset. Now, we have to figure out how to create better alternatives; this is where the opportunity is. The opportunity is in the places that are the most war-torn, where there’s the most resource extraction. This is where the opportunity is to create the new systems of the future and execute them there.


It’s a path, approach, ethic and way. That’s the fundamental thing at the end—truly resilient communities have people who come from multiple ethical frameworks and are able to see that their ethical identity is as important or more important. This identity is basically their operating system. It is as important or more important than their ethnic or religious identity because, when it all breaks out, you’ll be standing there with people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds, and you might have more in common with them because you’re part of the same Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group.

ECF: Your book is divided into four areas. The first three are water, waste and watts, which you call the three W’s. The fourth is food. The structures are interesting because they parallel the categories of the Living Building Challenge. At the same time, you also talk about the definition of “Deen,” that’s it’s translated as a path or a lifestyle. In that sense, Islam is a Deen, Christianity is a Deen, JudaYou might have more in common with them because ism is a Deen. Is being an environmentalist also a Deen? you want to incorporate solar thermal on your building. You recognize that we create space in the same

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way. And that at the end of the day, we’re going to say, “Wow, we actually can work together.” That’s the core of acknowledging there are multiple paths for as many different people. We pursue paths that reflect ourselves. But, we’re not all that different. ECF:

From an environmentalist perspective, you have a great lifestyle and a great path. We talked about CSA food and urban gardening and how that ties into resiliency. But, at the same time, many Americans would question the convenience of having to walk to go get your food. Tell us about your lifestyle. How much of it is a choice based on the practice of Islam, and how much of it is the choice of being an environmentalist?

IAM: The fundamental baseline of all of it is this idea, in a capitalist or even a socialist context, that we define value based on individuals being a unit of production or a unit of consumption. In both of those systems, the value of a human being is based on their relationship to consumption and production. As a person of faith, your value is based on your understanding of yourself and your relationship to the creator. You assign value to your deep exploration of your own personal situation. If you assign value to material things, you will seek those things out and define yourself by those material things. Everything that I strive to do, and try to do in my community, is embodied by that Islamic framework. It is a universal religious, universal ethical framework—that you are valuable intrinsically.

That’s how you should operate in the world, in a way that demonstrates that you don’t need things to give you value. You don’t need to buy things to have an identity. Then it becomes a question of how can you reduce your impact in that context: reducing waste, composting correctly, giving things back to the earth. That is the baseline for that relationship, and out of that philosophy comes a lot of different practices. ECF:

You said something during your speech at the Living Future unConference that I thought was great: that we have to transition from a destructive economy to a regen-

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erative one, and we have to redefine what is the good life for everybody. In spending the last few days with us at Living Future, it feels like we’re kindred spirits. Is there anything that changed in your message? IAM:

The core of the message didn’t change. I wanted to give a pep talk that was positive. I didn’t want bring doom and gloom, and I didn’t want to call people out for being bad at something. I thought about being with a group of architects and designers, and I wanted to make my talk a little more beautiful. And then I listened to people. Everywhere I went during Living Future, I just listened and wrote down what people said. And then I took those things and infused that into the talk. That is the role of the poet. The poet is the person who reflects and conveys back. I feel the most at home with poetry. I wanted to embody that because that is home for me in many ways. ECF:

In your book, you talk a lot about Islam and how it teaches us a very different perspective of what we know as ownership in the American sense. And then you talk about how every place in nature is an appropriate place to pray because the earth is sacred. Every place is a place for prayer. How has this belief shaped your policy work in New York City, one of the most bureaucratic cities in the country?


Recognizing that New York City was originally the ocean, it was a natural breeding ground for tons of species. [The city] still reflects that, even in the human manifestation of it. Human beings have taken over, and they come there from all over the globe. They still come here to discover new opportunities and to nurture the next generation of strivers and problem solvers, and then from New York, they go to other parts of the continent. They go to other places. They create businesses. They get married. They have babies. It still happens, and it still operates the same way. I recognize that we’re not that different than everything else in nature. And I think that I always remember that lens as reflective of a place. New York City is a land of villages and small spaces that creates lots of points of hu-


“It’s time for the folks of faith to re-look at their scripture and say, ‘Okay. We’ve been doing it this way because our ancestors did it this way, but now, we’re shifting.’” man and natural interaction—as someone involved in policy, I try to remember that underneath all the concrete is a layer of green. There are streams and springs hidden beneath the modern infrastructure, and those things are still there, and the real challenge is to make policy that reflects a deep understanding of the place and the people. ECF: Do you view New York City as a habitat? IAM:

Of course. Sometimes we have a water main break, but then realize, that was actually a spring. That pipe is there because it’s channeling this spring or this stream. It was underground and we put all this stuff on top of it. Then it sometimes pops because it needs some air. We just have to figure out how to manage that.

ECF: During your talk at Living Future, you equated the green building movement to the city beautiful movement. Then you called for a need for a people-city-beautifulmovement, to tell the story of people who struggle. It was a concept I’d never really thought of before. It’s what environmentalists have been trying unsuccessfully to do for decades. Tell our readers more about that. IAM:

The root of it comes from this idea that I heard from some residents in New York that every neighborhood needs their cultural quarter. We think of a foodshed or watershed, but we don’t think of a cultural shed


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or an artistic shed that reflects and relates to the city, place or village. We should embed artists in every entity, agency, organization and company to reflect what is happening. It’s connected to that idea; we have a deeper need to convey information that’s hard to convey sometimes. We don’t currently create the space for that. We have more stories than the often negative ones told in history. There are a lot of other stories that exist in the world, and it would be great to figure out a way to create art that isn’t standoffish, where people can relate to and that tell a story. That tells different stories about our experience and our struggles and then starts that movement. For example, in Richmond, Virginia, they have statues of Robert E. Lee and that area is the most manicured and well-kept part of the town. There are statues of Confederate presidents. We need to do statues of hipsters on bikes because that’s taken over the town now. They are the people invigorating the town with this new energy. It’s like a mini-Portland. That’s the new story of Richmond. Put that there. Russell Wilson went to high school in Richmond, Virginia. Put the story of a young Russell Wilson walking to school there, which tells a different type of story. Imagine a statue of Russell Wilson talking to Arthur Ashe (he’s from Richmond too). Put those stories there, in an active way, so people can see how they relate. Don’t put them in this faraway context that people can’t interact with.

How do we do art that makes us think about our story but also reflects that we’re part of that larger narrative? It will be awesome when we figure that out. Every historical era had art. The era invested heavily in art. We know a lot about a particular historical era because people said, “Let’s build an aqueduct and make it beautiful. Let’s build a temple and make it amazing.” We can use those things as ways to elevate the conversation. ECF: History is written by the winners, right?

It seems to me that the people I met at Living Future are creating the future way we will interact with the built environment in a manner which takes the best from the combustion engine era fused with a yearning for a more just, balanced and harmonious relationship with the planet. They are people practicing in the midst of a transition—which is never easy and generally brings out the best in us as humans. And that was just awesome and exciting to be around. ECF:

What is your message to faith leaders, not just in IsIAM: Correct, and maybe the winners need to say, “It’s lam, but everywhere, about how to connect with the green time for us to help change that script.” industry—how to take it away from being a political issue to being more about community? ECF: Now that you got to spend a little time with our weirdo group of activists and geniuses, what do you think? Did IAM: I think the faith community has a lot of examples of blueprints for how to manage things and people, and we scare you off? Did we get you excited? how to deal with conflict. There’s a lot of value that IAM: No, you didn’t scare me off. You definitely made faith communities have. The Torah has rules about me excited; I have so many new ideas. There’s a build- how to organize the home. The Hadith in Islam has ing in Stockholm that was an old power facility that ideas about how to organize the marketplace. Those was built to be connected to Islam in some way shape are very useful tools because they give a blueprint for or form. It was built a long time ago. They built it so how to engage with and how to deal with some of these that it faces the Kaaba, the direction of prayer. It’s no longstanding issues. longer used for its original use, and Muslims noticed the building when they started to immigrate there. It’s time for the folks of faith to relook at their scripture They noticed that it faced the Kaaba, so they bought and say, “Okay. We’ve been doing it this way because our the building and turned it into the main Masjid in ancestors did it this way, but now, we’re shifting.” Our Stockholm. Why don’t architects think about their ancestors were confronted with the same thing, and now buildings in this way, think about which direction is it is our turn—what will we do with this opportunity? the direction of prayer? How will a Muslim relate to that building when they walk into that space? How will I want us to always strive to do things better than they a Jewish person who prays three times a day relate to have ever been done before. that building when they walk into that space? People are rooted in traditions. There are certain ways that You can learn more about Ibrahim and his book at his native communities think about north, south, east and website: west with their doors and their windows. That should be part of the conversation because then those people ERIC COREY FREED is VP of Global will respond immediately. They’ll notice those things. Outreach at the International Living When I walk into a hotel in Dubai and I see an arrow Future Institute. He is also an architect, speaker and author of 11 on the ceiling or on the floor somewhere that is pointbooks. ing to the direction for prayer, that could be something that’s universal. And that’s done in a really easy way.

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Cities are the most complex artifacts ever created. They are in a constant state of flux based on the inputs of countless actors, occasionally spanning millennia. The Romans were perhaps the first culture to bring scientific precision to planning: they built superhighways across continents to move their armies, and aqueducts spanning mountain ranges to bring fresh water into Rome. For the Romans, the technologies and methods of city planning and empire building went hand-in-hand, their armies could literally stretch out from the heart of Rome to the farthest reaches of the empire. 2000 years after the Romans conquered much of Europe and the Middle East with large-scale, centralized city-building technologies, people continue to employ many of the same tools in the planning and design of our places. We at the International Living Future Institute launched the Living Community Challenge (LCC) in April of 2014. Though the program just completed its first year, the Institute’s thinking around applying regenerative principles to the planning scale has been developing for some time. In fact, in the second issue of Trim Tab, Jason F. McLennan laid out a case for planning the densities of our cities based on the resources available to them in the article “Density and Sustainability—A Radical Perspective.” As detailed in the article, the scales at which buildings can operate at a positive energy balance also happen to be the scales at which our cities were built prior to the early 20th century—around six stories, give or take a few floors, based on use and context. This height and density also happens to be consistent with some of the most beloved cities in the world, and the

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close to net zero water and energy use using rooftop collection/PV generation alone. We believe that with the combination of a few simple measures to expand rainwater collection and other renewable generation options within the city limits, San Francisco could operate using only rainwater and locally generated renewable energy. When we looked in more detail about the use and harvest potentials in two quintessential San Francisco neighborhoods, Noe Valley and Chinatown, we found that the lower-density, primarily residential neighborhoods of the city could share energy and water with the higher-density areas, in much the same The Living Community Challenge staff recently final- way as the Central Business District provides economic ized a document produced in collaboration with the and cultural resources to the residential neighborhoods. San Francisco Department of City Planning called Living Community Patterns: Strategies for a Sustain- Our work with the City of San Francisco has been critiable San Francisco. This collaboration has been trans- cal to the program in other ways as well. We worked formative to our thinking around community-scale with the City to develop simple tools, called Living design. It was the first time that we calculated the fea- Community Patterns, to infuse their neighborhood sibility of net zero energy and water at the city scale. planning process with LCC principles. In Noe Valley, We found that if levels of efficiency needed to achieve we worked with the City and the Green Alleys team to the Living Building Challenge were applied to all new put our patterns to work. Our work in Noe Valley reconstruction and to existing buildings as they un- sulted in a revised street framework plan for the neighdergo major retrofits, San Francisco could get very borhood based around streets that provide linear open scale of most cities outside of the central business district (CBD). In 2012, the Institute hosted the Living City Design Competition, which asked design teams from around the globe to redesign an existing city to achieve and transcend the Living Building Challenge. The launch of the Living Community Challenge in April of 2014 was therefore not the beginning of the story about community-scaled regenerative design principles. Given the solid foundation on which the program is built, we were well poised at the program’s launch to turn the theory of living communities into action.

Left: Blue-green street network vision plan, Noe Valley, San Francisco. Above: Blue-green alley section.

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Above: In 2050, two-thirds of all energy and more than half of all water used in the district could be provided by rooftop solar and rainwater capture alone. This suggests that D.C. could be net positive water and energy with a combination of on-building capture and community-scaled systems. Right: Existing parks, open space, tree canopy, and institutional buildings and land in the First Hill, Seattle study area. 46

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spaces that capture and treat stormwater in the right- in the planning and sustainability world for more than of-way, while providing enhanced mobility for people a decade. That tradition of leadership and innovation traveling by foot and on wheels. continues in Normal, now home to the second registered LCC project. In Normal, we used carrying caWe have also been working at the city scale in Wash- pacity analysis techniques to demonstrate feasibility, ington, D.C. In March 2015, we joined forces with the and patterns to create vision. This project is looking at District Department of the Environment to convene the redevelopment of 7.5 municipally owned acres into 40 government officials and planning and design a mixed-use neighborhood that will be anchored by a thought leaders to envision the future of the district in new library and significant public open space. Since 2050. Some of the questions that we explored included: study area and municipalities in Normal are all city“How can D.C. rebuild itself over the next 35 years to owned, we found the math of net zero water and enbe more beautiful, healthy  and equitable?” “Is it pos- ergy to be extremely compelling for the decentralized, sible to generate all of the power needed by the city in site-based systems required by the LCC. 2050 using rooftop solar generation alone?” “What is the right scale to provide water to residents, and how The First Hill area and surrounding neighborhoods in resilient is the current water system?” While we did Seattle are the main focus in the Living Community not solve all of the challenges facing the district, we did Challenge as the program enters its second year. The start the conversation and found the Living Commu- Institute and our local partners have been working to create a Living Community vision for the neighbornity Challenge to be a powerful tool for doing so. hood that will guide neighborhood groups, planners Also in March of this year, the LCC team traveled to and developers in their community work. Our work Normal, IL, to consult with Farr Associates on the thus far has mainly been focused on environmental Uptown Normal 2.0 plan. Normal has been a leader and infrastructure system analysis and capacity build-


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RESOURCES: Living Community Challenge Living Community Patterns San Francisco Guerilla Grafters Beacon Food Forest Pollinator Pathway

ing, yet we have already seen the power of connecting groups across the neighborhood around common goals and aspirations in the LCC. Though our work in First Hill is just beginning, we expect big things. With all of the work in the first year of the Living Community Challenge, the key lesson has been that communities need a new model for planning. The old ways of siloed, centralized decision making are simply not compatible with the future that we envision. The days of single-purpose everything have passed. Just as streets can no longer be planned to maximize efficiency for a single user, so too can roofs no longer simply keep water out of our buildings. All pieces of a living community must work together to simultaneously realize many goals; therefore, we need new models of planning and design that empower collaboration and big-picture thinking rather than discouraging them. For the planners, architects, landscape architects, developers, city officials, and land owners among us: register your project with the Living Community Challenge. For the radicals among us: plant gardens in the street, graft fruit branches onto street trees, paint the streets, ditch your car and ride your bike everywhere, create a tool-share with your neighbors, become a tactical urbanist. For everyone else: get involved with local planning efforts, join your local bicycle/pedestrian advocacy group, create a Pollinator Pathway in your town, turn your local park into a food forest, plant a front yard garden, or join your local Living Building Challenge Collaborative. Planning is hard work, but that is no excuse to default to the ancient tools of empire building. It’s time for new models of regenerative planning specific to places and the people who live in them. It’s time to stop building empires and to start building living communities. ADAM PAUL AMRHEIN is an urban designer and city planner who has worked internationally on large- and smallscale projects. He currently manages the Living Community Challenge at the International Living Future Institute.


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From leading ecology advocates, a revealing look at our dependence on cows and a passionate appeal for sustainable living. Speak[s] to the need for building a more humane and sustainable relationship.” —MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

A comprehensive look at how the once-beneficial human-bovine partnership has tipped in favor of the cows, complete with suggestions about how we might begin to even out the scales — for all of our sakes.” —SALON


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COWED The courageous cowboy galloping along the western frontier conveys an idyllic notion of the American dream. This iconic figure of the cowboy-hero emerged sometime following the Civil War, when the masses needed a symbol of hope to help them overcome the shambles of the war’s aftermath. In reality, the life of a cowboy was hardly a glamorous designation— they were largely lower-class, poorly paid men who worked their hands to the bone with little chance of social ascension. COWED outlines how, through the decades, we’ve corralled our hardworking hero and his bovine accomplices into core tenets of the American economy and culture.

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COWED comprehensively recounts the coevolution of humans and cows; it’s an eye-opening tale of how our industrial systems, legislation and everyday lives have been heavily influenced by these creatures. There’s a little bit of cow in nearly everything we touch—from cosmetics to cleaning products to furniture—and often in forms we aren’t even aware of. For instance, a number of adhesives such those that bind plywood are dervied from cow blood.

Through considerable research and visits to farms and factories nationwide, Denis Hayes and Gail Boyer Hayes provide a compelling and thoughtful narrative that presents a nearly indisputable argument for changing the way we interact with cows. The couple lead mostly vegetarian lifestyles but still incorporate some sustainably-raised animal protein into their diets. In fact, they even provide research that suggests that humans benefit from modest consumption of animal protein. The issue isn’t that huOne of John Muir’s most renowned quotes reads, mans eat meat—it’s that we eat far too much meat, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find don’t pay the actual cost (due to subsidies and underit hitched to everything else in the universe.” The valued utilities), and are threatening the environment problems we face with changing our food systems are and ultimately ourselves in the process. We’re well inextricably linked; they span from protecting vital overdue for a shift beyond the concentrated animal resources such as the Ogallala Aquifer (although we feeding operations (CAFO). may be too late), to frightening food safety issues such as E. coli and mad cow disease. The system is fragile While coordinating the first Earth Day in 1970, and the stakes are dire, but now more than ever, the Denis Hayes argued for protecting the environment while curiously clad in western boots, a cowcase for positive change is irrefutable. boy hat and a leather jacket. An eco-cowboy in his own right, Hayes has spent the decades since




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creating positive change through education and regulation. (He likely didn’t foresee that years later his fashion statement would serve as such an appropriate anecdote when writing COWED with his wife, Gail, an environmental lawyer and writer.) The book is packed with historical evidence and captivating (and often sobering) facts, but remains lighthearted with timely disseminated quips that leave you feeling as though you’ve just had an enjoyable (and incredibly thought-provoking) lunch with a couple of dear friends. KRISTA ELVEY is the Assistant Editor of Trim Tab and Communications Coordinator for the International Living Future Institute.

McGilvra Place Park, Seattle Designed in tandem with the Bullitt Center

The first “Living Park” certified under the Infrastructure & Landscape Typology of the Living Building Challenge

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B Y I L A R I A M A Z ZO L E N I & TA M S I N W O O L L E Y- B A R K E R

BUILDING ADAPTIVE COMMUNITIES: LESSONS FROM THE SUPER-ORGANISM Humans are social creatures. Even if you think of yourself as a loner or a rebel, you’re still part of a larger “super-organism,” and you can’t survive alone. Even drinking a latté involves hundreds of people growing, harvesting, roasting, delivering, and finally brewing it into a frothy sweet social concoction. A handful of highly-unusual species share this kind of collective intelligence, and biologists often refer to us as super-organisms, populations of individuals that are so tightly unified around an action that they seem to function as a single unit, like cells of a body. Super-organisms—ants, termites, honeybees, naked mole rats, and humans—all take on specialized jobs and come together to make unexpected structures and complex communities.

for over 150 million years. So it’s worth studying our elders: how do other super-organism species build adaptive communities? Can we mimic their strategies and symbiosis with ecosystems to create a Living Future? ENGINEERING RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF SCARCITY

Like all species, super-organisms must interact with the immediate larger ecosystem, but they have very unique characteristics. Similar to humans, ants are enSuper-organism societies are a strategy that works, espe- gineers and community developers, living and workcially when resources are scarce and unpredictable. Over ing in highly-organized colonies. Together, by dividing the past 200,000 years, this strategy has allowed humans labor and creating complex adaptive structures, ants to spread into every corner of the world, through every thrive on every continent but Antarctica, accounting habitat imaginable. Humans struggle to embody the for as much as 15% of the terrestrial biomass. Much like super-organism niche wisely. Meanwhile, ants have humans, ants leverage their collaborative social orgabeen building evolutionarily sustainable communities nizations to modify habitats, harvest and cultivate re-


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sources, partner with other species, and collectively defend against attackers. But they do so sustainably, over evolutionary time, while enhancing biodiversity in the ecosystems they live in. They make their homes richer. Like ants, human communities have leveraged complex shelters, agricultural techniques, domesticated animals, and division of labor to spread across the globe. But our building methods and community designs have been steadily degrading habitats, reducing biodiversity, and depleting resources. What do the ants know about achieving evolutionary sustainability and ecosystem regeneration that we don’t? LIVING SYSTEMS: INTERCONNECTED, RESOURCEFUL, and PRODUCTIVE

“What do the ants know about achieving evolutionary sustainability and ecosystem regeneration that we don’t?” players constantly adjust themselves to optimize the system for their benefit. The more diverse the players and their resources, the more resilient the system is to disturbance or directional movement. Three main characteristics emerge in super-organism communities that have stood the test of time. First, they are interconnected—not just with one another, but with other nearby species. Second, they are resourceful, using locally available materials and energy to survive and thrive. Third, they are productive, or regenerative.

Ants start by being locally attuned. They know the constraints and resources of their local ecosystem, and they build from there. In order to take a super organism approach to architecture or planning, we need to This systemic approach feeds the whole system, reknow what our ecosystem offers and requires, and un- sulting in regeneration, resilience, and riches that the derstand that it is always in flux. As in any system, the super-organisms reinvest into their communities. Our

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Salton Sea Community: The land is reconfigured for use within its carrying capacity, in a way that it is regenerative or minimal. Each design element serves multiple community objectives – much as different worker castes of ants work together for the whole. The community’s current capacity is for 1000 people, but the design allows for future growth in response to local and regional pressures. Image credits throughout article: IM Studio Milano/Los Angeles

bio-inspired community designs can do the same, leveraging these three characteristics to facilitate evolutionarily sustainable, adaptive outcomes for us while sustaining other forms of life.

boundaries: a single lot, a block, a neighborhood, an ecosystem. However, once we recognize the value of symbiotic relationships, we can seek mutualisms with other buildings, neighborhoods, and even species— sharing available resources, and integrating our interADAPTIVE COMMUNITIES actions to create a whole that is more than the sum of ARE INTERCONNECTED the parts. Similarly, if we strengthen the interrelationSuper-organism communities are deeply interconnect- ships of parts of the building, we can maintain larger ed. No individual can do everything. Even the cells of and more inclusive communal spaces. We reduce our your body require the help of bacteria on your skin footprint while increasing our regenerative handprint. and in your gut. We coexist and coevolve, not just with each other, but with our entire ecosystem. The project “Eco-systemic restoration”: a super-organism inspired design and model community in Salton In urban planning, the traditional model of growth Sea, CA. Water and energy cycles are integrated with is a zero-sum game, with discrete land use typolo- agriculture and seasonality, production and the exgies. Growth in one can only happen at the expense change economy, as well as with the social needs of of another. We design buildings within given project a multigenerational community. The strategy capi58

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talizes on the notion of restoring and regenerating scarred landscapes, while integrating community into the ecology. The designed community contains housing and public space, but it also extends to the world beyond, where inhabitants must make a living. Ideally, this interconnectivity does not produce waste but creates a chain of usage, like a food web.

The Salton Sea community minimizes waste by creating a cyclic “industrial ecosystem,” where the inputs of one element come from the outputs of another. Reducing harmful environmental impacts while using replenishable biotic and abiotic resources sets up a cyclic feedback system model, which is how nature learns to adapt and survive. Likewise, the Salton Sea community is intended to evolve through the interaction of ADAPTIVE COMMUNITIES farmlands, clean factories, algae farms and solar ponds. ARE RESOURCEFUL This productive ecosystem uses the natural cycles of Adaptive super-organism communities are also re- land, air, sun and water to do the work for free. With sourceful, using minimal materials and energy to this approach, the landscape has a chance to produce a survive and thrive. They seek and actively regenerate new, healthy life for all its inhabitants. replenishable materials. Bees, for instance, use nectar and pollen to feed the colony—they pollinate flowers ADAPTIVE COMMUNITIES in the process, helping them produce pollen and nectar ARE PRODUCTIVE for the next generation. Similarly, leaf-cutter ants make Super-organism communities are productive. Colcompost for their fungal crops from diverse patches of laboration, diversity and efficiency make resilient local leaves, gathering fragments from different plants structures and behaviors that adapt in response to the and trees to minimize the vegetation’s tendency to ecosystem, even as they alter and enrich it. Honeybees concentrate nectar and convert it to honey; attractbuild up chemical defenses.

1. EXPLORING: The colony explores the surrounding trees looking for good places to build nests.

2. TESTING: Ants test if the leaf is useful to build a nest by trying to pull an edge.

3. CALLING: They call other members of the colony for help using pheromones.

4. COLLABORATING: Armies of ants form chains of up to 12cm long to bridge the gap between the living leaves, anchoring themselves using the tiny hooks on their feet.

5. MOVING: Workers extract larvae from their other nests and bring them to the newly constructed nest holding them with the mandibles.

6. WEAVING: Pulling the leaves together and using larvae as gluesticks they join leaves with silk creating a 30-50cm diameter nest.

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ing people, honey badgers and bears. These colonies are net positive, generating biodiversity hotspots and innovative structures that adapt to the ecosystem even as they modify it, unlocking nutrients, providing rich habitat, and generating complexity and abundance resulting in a large handprint. In the Salton Sea project, the primary motivation is a paradigm shift in accommodating growth. By harnessing and integrating cyclical systems, the community rejuvenates, regenerates and heals the surrounding ecology with each cycle, rather than eroding it over time. EVOLVING THE HUMAN SUPER-ORGANISM

We know the super-organism approach is a proven winner when resources are scarce, patchy and unpredictable. By mimicking more ancient and experienced super-organisms like the ants, we can build our own interconnected, resourceful and productive communities. We can design in a way that nurtures life on this planet and sustains future generations. But are there limits to this? At every level, we spar for space, water, food, and power, making alliances as we go. Our super-organisms are cemented by messy social glue. Yet alone, we can do very little. Like other super-organisms, we rely on our elaborate built environment to mediate interaction with the world “outside.” But after 150 million years of trial and error, ant communities have fully integrated with their



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larger ecosystems. They are evolutionarily sustainable and they regenerate habitat. Their footprint on the land is unmistakable, but their handprint is even bigger. Perhaps it’s time for us to think a little bit more like ants, and see what we can make, together. With thanks to Denise DeLuca and Lola Dompe’ for their original research. Information about the author’s work is at ILARIA MAZZOLENI is an architect, biomimicist, author, founder of IM Studio Milano/Los Angeles, and professor at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles. Her book, Architecture Follows Nature: Biomimetic Principles for Innovative Design by CRC Press, explores animal skin systems as they relate to building envelopes. TAMSIN WOOLLEY-BARKER is an Evolutionary Biologist, Writer, and Innovation Consultant with over 25 years experience in business, design, and biology. Today, she writes for a number of green and futurist publications, inclduing her regular column at (“The Biomimicry Manual”)

IT’S HARD TO FIND A PERSON WHO IS EQUALLY SMART AND ATTRACTIVE, MUCH LESS AN APPLIANCE. As you would expect from a product of German design, Liebherr refrigerators and wine cabinets are engineered to the highest possible standards of performance, efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. Precise, independent controls give you the power to maintain the ideal storage conditions for both food and wine, and Liebherr delivers all of this technology in an elegant design that is nothing short of a work of art.

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Editor’s Note: The International Living Future Institute and the International Well Building Institute are key partners in the pursuit of creating a healthy and sustainable built environment. This is a crucial mission for both organizations, which have worked harmoniously in the endeavor. Jason F. McLennan, ILFI’s CEO is on the Advisory Board of Delos Building Wellness, the founding organization of the WELL Building Standard. ILFI helped develop education for the WELL Building Standard and helped organize the inaugural WELL Building Conference to aid in the program’s establishment.


INTRODUCING THE WELL BUILDING STANDARD Recently I asked a group of health professionals, “Do you think that a green building is an asset for your health?” I received mixed responses with a series of slightly confused but interested looks from my audience, which I could best summarize as intrigued but not convinced. It is fair to say that this response is not uncommon across the health industry, where many professionals have not been directly exposed to how specific aspects of green buildings can directly support health and wellness. In a 2014 McGraw Hill Smart Market Report, fewer than half of the medical professionals surveyed believed there is a connection between health and buildings. This is likely due to lack of education, with only 15% reporting that they have received information on this connection. With the public highly influenced by the advice of their physicians,


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perhaps it is time to think of how our clients and the broader health industry can better understand the value of a healthy sustainable building. Not only is this an opportunity to better engage, educate and train health professionals about how the spaces in which we spend over 90% of our time

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“WELL works harmoniously with the Living Building Challenge, LEED and other international leading green building systems.” impact our health and wellness, it is also an opportunity to powerfully think of how health and wellness can be a centralizing theme in the design process. It’s an important point of inflection for our market and our movement. Historically, sustainability has focused on the impact that buildings have on our climate and environment and to a degree on human health. Bringing a holistic understanding of wellness into the conversation adds a new emphasis on the individual, and opens up the field for research and development. A ROADMAP FOR HEALTHY BUILDINGS As the world’s first building standard to focus exclusively on enhancing people’s health and well-being through the built environment, the WELL Building Standard® (WELL) attempts to address this exact issue by providing a roadmap for designing buildings that support wellness while educating and engaging the health and design industries about the importance of building deThe Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an example of a project that has achieved both WELL and the Living Building Challenge.


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sign on health. Created through seven years of rigorous research and development working with leading physicians, scientists and industry professionals, The WELL standard is a performance-based certification system that marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research. Projects earn WELL Building Certification by achieving features in seven categories of building performance—air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort and mind.

A STANDARD TO COMPLEMENT THE LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE WELL works harmoniously with the Living Building Challenge, LEED and other international leading green building systems. In addition, third-party certification for WELL is provided through IWBI’s collaboration with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), the same organization that administers LEED certification. The International Well Building Institute welcomes projects to pursue the Living Building Challenge alongside WELL in order to promote both environmental and personal sustainability. To make the process easier for projects pursuing both programs, the WELL Building Standard is organized so that specific Living Building

Challenge Imperatives are clearly mapped to WELL Features. For example, WELL Feature 65, “Interior Fitness Circulation,” complements Living Building Challenge Imperative 4, “Human Powered Living,” in the promotion of stairs over elevators through interior layout and quality of stairways. It is important to note that there are overlapping features between WELL and the Living Building Challenge, which are described in detail in the appendices of WELL. CASE STUDY: PHIPPS CONSERVATORY

Humidity Control: Relative humidity levels are being monitored and devices are in place to maintain healthy humidity levels, which facilitates increased occupant comfort and higher indoor air quality, as well as prevents harmful biological growth. Sun & Glare Control: Internal and external solar shading was installed to reduce heat penetration by sunlight and to control visual acuity, protecting occupants from uncomfortable thermal fluctuations and glare.

Activity Based Lighting: To reduce eyestrain, lighting was designed to reach balanced and proper illumiThe Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an nation levels while task lights have been implemented example of a project that has achieved both WELL and to allow adequate levels of light in workspaces. the Living Building Challenge. In late 2014, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens announced Wellness Literacy: To encourage the behaviors necesthat it had become the first institution worldwide to sary for a healthy lifestyle, occupants have access to the achieve WELL Certified™ Platinum—Pilot Program, latest health and wellness literature as well as to comthe highest rating awarded by IWBI, for the Center for prehensive guides that describe the various wellness Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), one of Earth’s greenest features throughout the building. buildings. This facility later achieved Living Building Challenge Certification™ from the International Living Healthy Ingredients: Drinks and foods distributed Future Institute™ in March 2015—in addition to earn- do not contain trans fats or high levels of refined ingreing LEED® Platinum and Four-Stars Sustainable Sites dients as increased access to healthy foods encourages Initiative™ (SITES™) certification for landscapes in 2013, occupants to develop wholesome eating habits and making it the first project anywhere to obtain all four of maintain a healthy weight. the world’s highest sustainable building standards. Ergonomics: Comprehensive ergonomic solutions, Project features that helped CSL achieve its WELL such as sit/stand desks and ergonomically designed Certified Platinum—Pilot Program rating include: workstation chairs, were used to help prevent stress and injury on the body. Air Quality Standards: Indoor Air Quality testing was conducted and confirmed that the building pro- Natural Lighting: Occupants have exposure to dayvides occupants with high-quality air. The design met light in their workspaces as well as access to indoor and stringent thresholds for low levels of volatile substanc- outdoor gardens that provide natural light throughes, particulate matter and inorganic gases. out the year. These spaces supply light intensity to reinforce the natural patterns of the human circadian Water Quality Standards: It was verified that the rhythm—the biological system that controls sleep and project delivers healthy and safe drinking water. wake cycles—which enhances occupant productivity Source water was tested for harmful impurities and and energy. contaminants and to ensure compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Drinking Water Non-Toxic Materials: In accordance with WELL and Standards. the Living Building Challenge, Phipps banned the use

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Projects earn WELL Building Certification by achieving features in seven categories of building performance—air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort and mind.

of over a dozen chemicals and materials in furniture high performance interior environments. The rigorous and finishes that have been proven to be harmful to hu- requirements of both are critical to the creation of truly sustainable buildings, where occupants benefit from man health. innovative design strategies, healthy building products Cleaning Protocol: A specialized, chemical-free and materials, and access to nature. cleaning plan has been put into effect to reduce bioloads, pests, allergens and odors that affect both indoor LEARN HOW TO DESIGN FOR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING air quality and occupant comfort. A home base for environmental education and research, as well as a space for visitors to explore, the CSL also incorporates many features of biophilia that improve occupant mood through patterns of nature. This is achieved through visual and auditory biophilic art and a restorative landscape with native plants. In addition, the CSL achieves enhanced ventilation for occupant comfort while aiming to achieve net-zero energy with geothermal wells, a vertical axis wind turbine and solar photovoltaics. Operable high-performance, low-e windows provide fresh air, natural light and views of nature. Additionally, Phipps offers employees free nutrition workshops and counseling, yoga classes and other fitness incentives, daily access to organic fruit and more. WELL and the Living Building Challenge complement each other in the optimization of healthy and


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In the coming months, we’ll be unveiling educational opportunities such as WELL AP Workshops and online training materials. An introductory course will take you through a detailed explanation of the WELL Building Standard and a series of literature reviews will focus on each of the seven Concepts. To learn more about the WELL Building Standard, please visit us at and sign up for our mailing list to receive regular updates and opportunities. WHITNEY AUSTIN GRAY, PHD, LEED AP is the Executive Director of Research and Innovation for Delos.



September 16-18, 2015 David L. Lawrence Convention Center Pittsburgh, PA

The Living Product unExpo is a groundbreaking new conference that will ignite a revolution in the way materials are designed, manufactured and delivered. The world’s leading manufacturers and design firms, sustainbility consultants, academic researchers and impact investors will gather to learn about game-changing innovations in product design. Together, we will engage in a transparent, transdisciplinary and transformative dialogue to inspire the creation of the world’s first living products. Participants will gain new tools, knowledge and connections to effect positive change in their organizations and supply chains.

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LIVING FUTURE 2015 RECAP The Living Future unConference is a global assembly of leading thinkers and doers in the green building and sustainability movement. Over the course of 3 days, attendees reflected on the meaning of home. World-renown scientist and biomimicry expert Janine Benyus opened Living Future with an impassioned journey through habitats of all descriptions. Jason F. McLennan inspired the capacity audience with exciting news of the visionary work from our global community partners and change-driving initiatives from the Institute involing Livng Buildings, Living Communities and Living Products. Ibrahim Abdul-Matin explored a deep internal view of humanity and brilliantly connected it to the fight against climate change. The buzz and energy was palpable leaving attendees refreshed and revamped to continue to make things better. The heartfelt messages of Janine, Jason and Ibrahim were all tied together by a call for thoughtful, urgent for action, and the importance of which all circled back to the deep seeded value of home. Join us May 11-13, 2016 in Seattle, WA, where we’ll dive into the depths of Truth and Transparency.



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LIVING PRODUCT CHALLENGE: METAMORPHOSIS The Living Product Challenges inspires product designers to reimagine the design and manufacturing of all products to be as beautiful and efficient as anything in the natural world. The Challenge offers a framework to realign manufacturing systems with natural systems and create products that are net positive across their lifecycle—generating more renewable energy, more potable water, and more biodiversity through their very creation. Redesigning the way we make everything is a tall order, one that will require fundamental and widespread change in the current industry. This degree of change will require creativity and engagement from everyone involved in the product development process, from industrial designers to marketing teams, sustainability strategists and facility managers. The holistic approach of the Living Product Challenge is intended to inspire trans-disciplinary dialogue. The framework addresses environmental concerns of manufacturing such as water and energy, and also embraces equity, beauty and biophillia. Through a similar integrated process, Living Building Challenge project teams have shown that previously unheard levels of performance are possible today. We believe the manufacturing industry is poised to make a similar leap forward. A butterfly was chosen as the Living Product Challenge logo as a metaphor for the transformative process toward regenerative products. In the same way a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis into a butterfly, the Challenge provides a platform for companies to re-think products and unleash their own creativity and innovation. The first companies that take on the Challenge will form the Chrysalis, a select group com-


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mitted to developing Living Products. The Chrysalis will receive specialized consulting, workshops and charrettes—a unique opportunity to collaborate with a multi-disciplinary team of experts in product sustainability. The Chrysalis provides space for companies to think beyond current limitations and a direction to formulate groundbreaking solutions. The chrysalis will also be a platform to tell the stories of the world’s first living products. In this metamorphosis, the journey is as important as the destination. There’s an ever-growing body of evidence demonstrating the benefit of sustainable product innovation. Sustainable products often perform better in the market, and through the process of innovation new ideas spill over to the rest of the company, inspiring a cascade of benefits across an organization. In aggregate, these benefits lead to industry-wide transformation that brings down the cost of innovation—pushing the entire market forward. The Institute invites all product manufacturers to join the journey to the creation of the world’s first living products. The social and environmental consequences of our current manufacturing paradigm are too dire to rely solely on incremental steps. It is time to imagine a world of living products. JAMES CONNELLY is the Living Product Challenge Director at the International Living Future Institute.

PLACE Restoring a healthy coexistence with nature

WATER Creating products that operate within the water balance of a given place and climate



Celebrating design that uplifts the human spirit

Relying only on current solar income


EQUITY Supporting a just, sustainable World


Creating environments that optimize physical and psychological health and well being

Endorsing products that are safe for all species through time

LIVING PRODUCT CHALLENGE Seven petals to certification

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In 2012 in Langley, Washington, an existing apartment

The Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at

to transform the property into an ownership community. The

first building to achieve Living Building Challenge (LBC)

building was acquired by a small group of people who hoped group is committed to creating affordable spaces inclusive

to all generations that utilize sustainable technologies. Learn more about this great example of self-organizing sustainable developement.

full certification. The SBRC hopes to establish itself as an

integrated research site for the performance of sustainable building technologies in Australia.



Berea College in Kentucky was featured in “The Princeton

The spike in the adoption of solar technologies is forcing

municipalities to address policy and infrastructure restrictions. In Hawaii, 12 percent of homes have rooftop solar energy systems, and the grid-tied systems are stirring up heat

Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition” last month. Berea is a unique institution because

they offer a tuition-free opportunity for academically

promising students with limited resources access to

between energy companies and residents. The concern is

higher education. The college recently achieved Petal

fluctuations of energy back into the grid could overload the

system and lead to blackouts. This issue is heating up in other

areas as well, as solar uptake is on the rise. Luckily, in Hawaii, state officials are pushing back to encourage and demand

NSW’s University of Wollongong could become Australia’s

Certification under the Living Building Challenge for their Deep Green Student Residence, and is also home to Kentucky’s first LEED Certified building.

that energy companies work together with citizens to improve access to solar power.

MAKING PROGRESS? Do you have a lead on cutting-edge green building progress in the region? Contact with “Moving Upstream News Lead” in the subject line.


Spring 2015



At the White House Correspondence Dinner in Washington, DC this spring, the President let loose on climate change deniers. While the speech was humorous in its nature, the message was clear—the White House is ready to stand behind the extensive facts and research that climate change is a fundamental issue that we must address.



On Earth Day, Bill Nye the Science Guy traveled with Obama to the Florida Everglades to discuss climate change in the heart of the climate crisis. Nye’s willingness to combat opposition on evolution and climate change has given him a seat at the President’s table and he’s there to “Change the World!””


In response to the practical, hard-toanswer questions pertaining to solar, an Australian solar research institute created software to track photovoltaic energy levels returning to the grid, along with overall solar uptake. Learn more about how this powerful tool is benefitting residents.

FWD: READ THIS! If you have something that should be included here please send it to us at




Tesla’s new Model 3 will unequivocally be a triple threat to the auto industry—electric, affordable ($35k before subsidies), and aligned with the company’s infamous sleek aesthetic. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to be a bit patient—but all good things are worth the wait, right? Check out the latest rollout plan.



The U.S. Green Building Council announced in early

April that it will recognize energy and water requirements

from the Living Building Challenge, meaning that projects achieving the energy and water requirements in Living Building Challenge will be considered as technically equivalent to LEED.

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2015 WEBINARS UNDERSTANDING THE LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGEâ„¢ Join an upcoming webinar series. Each series consists of four one-hour sessions. June 15-24 | Sept 22-Oct 1 | Dec 7-16

MATERIALS SERIES Track: Living Product Challenge

July 16


Sept 22

LPC Tools #1: The Footprint Calculator

Sept 24

LPC Tools #2: The Handprint Calculator and Product Life Database

Oct 15

Net Positive Material Health

Track: LBC Materials

May 19

Living Building Challenge Framework for Affordable Housing

May 28

Declare: Materials Transparency

June 16

Intro to JUST

June 25

Materials Petal How-To: Tips and Tricks from LBC Project Teams

Dec 10

Healthy Materials Selection and Living Specifications



May 19

Materials Petal

June 16


July 13

Energy Petal

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Oct 19

Living Community Challenge

Dec 1

Water Petal

Spring 2015

Innovating Responsibly.™ Thank you

When print quality matters.

For visiting our booth at the 2015 Living Future unConference Columbia offerings include:

• FSC® Mix, FSC 100% Decorative Hardwood Plywood Panels Available • LEED® AP Credentialed Staff Support Specification, Submittal Requests • Declare® Support for Specifiers and Downstream Fabricators • Locally Manufactured in Klamath Falls, Oregon

CFP_Trim_Tab_LivingFutures.indd 2

eco-printing | offset | digital | mailing | large format

4/7/15 3:51 PM

Fo l low in g n atu r e ’ s le a D :

Beautiful Functional Design

C a i t i l i n P o P e Dau m landscape architecture & ecological Design

w w w.C P D -l a nDs C a P e .Co m

portland, oregon trim tab



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Trim Tab v. 25  
Trim Tab v. 25