Living buildings are “regenerative spaces that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community. Self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site.”

Designers and architects have learned to incorporate nature’s solutions to create regenerative environments using standards like the Living Building framework and the Well Building Standard.  With the goal of emulating nature and demonstrated return on investment the living building movement has caught on. The first commercial project, the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington has been operating for five years.

“The Bullitt Center demonstrated that achieving the Living Building Challenge in a six-story Class A commercial building, in the least sunny major city in the continental United States, was practical.”

Why Living Buildings?

“The 3-30-300 rule of thumb in real estate states (PDF) that organizations typically spend about $3 per square foot per year for utilities, $30 for rent and $300 for payroll. While these figures are general estimates and can vary, they help to underscore the critical importance of investing in the well-being of occupants. According to the 3-30-300 model, the greatest financial benefit to pursuing a Living Building Challenge project may not be the energy or water savings. For example, a 2 percent energy efficiency improvement would result in savings of 6 cents per square foot, but a 2 percent improvement in productivity would result in a gain of $6 per square foot through increased employee performance.”

“The benefits of green building to employee health and productivity are becoming increasingly well researched and understood. A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health demonstrated that improved air quality and other green features in buildings improved the cognitive function of building occupants. Cognitive function scores were better in green building conditions compared to the conventional building conditions across nine functional domains, including crisis response, strategy and focused activity level.”

“If you factor in the potential benefits from fewer sick days, and better employee recruitment and retention, the benefits are even higher.”

Companies like Google and Etsy occupy living buildings that create environments for the people and the planet. Is your company considering new construction or major renovation? Perhaps these human and planet focused solutions are right for you.

We enable change leadership. Sustainability is an area where we see leaders grappling with starting and/or sustaining efforts. Get in touch if your company needs a journey partner to help you develop and advance critical projects and programs for your business

Read more about the business case for living buildings.