Living Building Basics

Living Building Basics

 Living Building Challenge uses the metaphor of a flower because the ideal built environment should be as simple and efficient 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.
  • Creating a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them.
  • Places that last. Living Buildings need to be designed to operate for a hundred year’s time.
  • Healthy and beautiful.

Living buildings give more than they take.


  1. All Imperatives assigned to a Typology are mandatory. Some Typologies require fewer than twenty Imperatives because the conditions are either not applicable or may compromise other critical needs.
  2. Living Building Challenge certification requires actual, rather than modeled or anticipated, performance. Therefore, projects must be operational for at least twelve consecutive months prior to evaluation.

Petals & Imperatives

The Living Building Challenge is organized into seven performance areas (Petals). Each performance area has a number of more detailed requirements (Imperatives).

A term used to describe going outside the limits of project boundary for better solutions Example: A building that harvests rainwater from the rooftop of a neighboring property to serve the Living Building Challenge project.

Who builds Living Buildings?

We work with people from around the world who want to create healthy spaces for their community.


We understand the difficulties associated with diverting from standard construction. For over a decade, we’ve guided hundreds of project teams toward certification. Each team takes a unique approach to achieving certification that works with their project type and site.

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

Other certification programs grant certification based on modeled outcomes. We use third-party auditors that prove your project performs to the highest sustainability metrics.

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.

“Living Buildings are more than just spaces, 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.”

We don’t provide a checklist of best practices.

The Living Building Challenge encourages teams to begin by thinking 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 aesthetically pleasing to satisfy both Materials and Beauty demands;

• And floor plans must provide all occupants with access to amenities to adhere to Equity requirements.

The program outlines a series of performance goals, and it is up to the project teams to find holistic solutions to achieve the highest possible measure of sustainability.