Australia needs to transform its cities, infrastructure and its architecture if it is to be part of a global solution to the most pressing environmental challenges of our times, according to Jason F McLennan, founder of the Living Building Challenge.
The Living Building Challenge is one of the most stringent and progressive green building certification programs in the world.
McLennan’s visit to Australia last week, for a series of workshops and lectures, highlighted the need for the building community to aim for ‘triple net zero’—meaning net zero energy, water and waste—and strive for positive performance across the program’s seven challenge areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.
The founder provided a number of examples where projects have met the Challenge’s strict criteria and underlined the point that sustainable design does not need to be complicated as there were many examples in nature that designers and architects could draw from.
“We use the concept of a flower as the metaphor for a living building. It is rooted in place, must survive on the resources it can capture and utilise, and is also beautiful,” he said.
Elements such as using renewable energy combined with energy efficiency, onsite water reuse and reducing and reusing waste were key to the projects McLennan highlighted.
“Green building is a hot topic in the design and construction sectors, yet the industry has barely begun to push the boundaries of what is possible,” he said. “If you consider global issues such as climate change, water and resource scarcity, habitat loss and the rise of persistent toxic chemicals, it’s clear that we need transformational change in a short time span rather than incremental change.”
Green Building Council of Australia’s CEO Romilly Madew remarked: “Initiatives that develop the conversation around greener buildings and communities can be great catalysts for change. The GBCA continues to support all robust, transparent and well-governed rating tools and systems that can transform Australia’s built environment.”
McLennan’s visit was supported by sustainable design consultancy Viridis E3 and engineering sponsor Aurecon.