Living Building Basics

Living Building Basics

The Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment. It uses the metaphor of a flower because the ideal built environment should function as cleanly and efficiently as a flower.
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With the Living Building Challenge, you can create buildings that are:

  • Regenerative spaces that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community.
  • Self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site. Living Buildings produce more energy than they use and collect and treat all water on site.
  • Healthy and beautiful.

Living buildings give more than they take, creating a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them. 


  1. All Imperatives assigned to a Typology are mandatory. 
  2. Living Building Challenge certification requires actual, rather than anticipated, performance demonstrated over twelve consecutive months.

Petals & Imperatives

The Living Building Challenge is organized into seven performance areas called Petals. Each Petal is further sub-divided into Imperatives, which address specific issues through detailed requirements.

The Living Building Challenge recognizes the ideal scale for solutions is not always within a property boundary. To address that reality the LBC has a Scale Jumping overlay to allow cooperation between projects and their neighbors. 

Who builds Living Buildings?

We work with people from around the world who want to create healthy, efficient, ecologically restorative spaces for their community. There are hundreds of registered projects around the world representing millions of square feet of commercial, institutional, educational and residential construction. 


The Living Building Challenge is for anyone who wants to invest in a healthy and sustainable future. Browse the registered and certified buildings around the globe. Projects range from single-family homes to large offices and commercial spaces.

+ Certified Project Case Studies

Third-party auditors verify each project is meeting the highest sustainability metrics based on a twelve-month performance period.

Living Buildings are among the healthiest and most efficient in the world. We want to tell your story; allow us to shine a spotlight on your certified project.

Living Buildings are resilient, self-sufficient systems that provide energy security for decades to come. They are teaching tools and sources of inspiration. 

“The Living Building Challenge continues to encourage me to raise the bar for design while enjoying and protecting the natural world.” -Project Team Member

We don’t provide a checklist of best practices.

The Living Building Challenge encourages teams to think holistically to find solutions that tackle multiple issues at once. For example:

• A water system’s power needs must factor into the energy budget;

• Materials must be non-toxic and low impact to satisfy the demands of the Materials Petal;

• Projects must integrate local culture, biophilic elements and beauty in order to foster community and natural connections. 

The program outlines a design framework that promotes the highest standard of sustainability for the built environment. Rather than a checklist of current best practices, the LBC includes a series of performance goals empowering project teams to find creative design solutions. 


Do you still have questions about the Living Building Challenge? Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page to see if we can help clarify any points.