What the *bleep* is a living building?! It’s a building that acts like a forest. It’s a building that grows food; cleans water; generates more energy than it uses; and consumes greenhouse gases. It’s also a building that’s designed to meet human needs for connecting with nature – built of beautiful natural materials, lit by the sun, providing views of nature and comfort.
Way back in 2006, this was the vision of the Canadian Living Building Challenge – and it’s been met.
Buildings that actively do good
As our population has grown and the limits of our finite ecosystem have been increasingly recognised, inventors and innovators have been busy. They’ve designed, developed, tested and commercialised smarter, more effective ways to design and construct buildings for more than 30 years. It’s not just our phones that got smarter.
Livable buildings made with smarter designs and better materials have become not just achievable, but affordable. In one such display home in Sydney Australia, visitors on a 40C day can walk into a pleasant, quiet, cool environment (23C) that’s achieved without the air conditioning being turned on.
“We have the technology!”
The built environment and reversing global warming
The first ever research into reversing global warming and shifting to an economy that consumes greenhouse gases (published in 2017 by Project Drawdown), found that Buildings and Cities were a key sector is dealing with global warming, delivering 12 of the Top 100 solutions for creating a clean, green, profitable future:
- Rooftop Solar #10
- Insulation #31
- LED Lighting (Household) #33
- Solar Water Heating #41
- Building Automation #45
- LED Lighting (Commercial) #44
- Smart Thermostats #57
- Smart Glass #61
- Green Roofs #73
- Net Zero Building Design #79
- Wood Buildings Coming Attraction
- Living Buildings Coming Attraction
So if you’re in the market to build a new home, it could be well worth shopping around and discovering who’s doing Passive House Design and involved with the Living Building Challenge, because:
- You might never pay an energy or water bill again; and
- However the energy grid develops, you may never have to risk heat stroke or lose a freezer full of food again.
Even if you’re not ready for a new home, some smart advice from a design innovator could well save you money, inconvenience or discomfort. The same technology boom that’s putting a smart phone or tablet within everyone’s reach can now be applied to create a more comfortable, reliable living environment.
Some starting points for your exploration into regenerative living include:
- Passive House Australia https://passivehouseaustralia.org/
- Living Future Institute Australia https://living-future.org.au/
The game isn’t just for home buyers
Smart technology and smarter service models are changing the building efficiency equation in commercial and industrial building management. Just a few examples include:
- Reduce your water usage, effluent costs, chemical costs and energy bills with next-generation cooling tower efficiency technology. The Industrial Vortex Generation – listed as a major efficiency innovation in 2010 – is now recognised by EPRI in the USA as consistently delivering outstanding results in a self-contained, after-market installation package.
- Smart building refurbishment businesses in Australia are making it possible for building managers to obtain finance for reducing operating expenses through “refurbishment as a service” models, without having to battle for CapEx approval.
- Google’s parent company Alphabet has launched startups in both Geotheral Heating/Cooling and Smart Cities – and they’re competing with other strong contenders in both spaces.
If you’re an entrepreneurial thinker, don’t be fooled into leaving the good stuff for “the government”. Start exploring for your best personal, business and career opportunities are in the shift to a clean, GHG-consuming, regenerative economy today.