The intent of the Energy Petal is to signal a new age of design, wherein the built environment relies solely on renewable forms of energy and operates year round in a safe, pollution-free manner. In addition, it aims to prioritize reductions and optimization before technological solutions are applied to eliminate wasteful spending—of energy, resources, and dollars. The majority of energy generated today is from highly polluting and often politically destabilizing sources including coal, gas, oil, and nuclear power. Large-scale hydro, while inherently cleaner, results in widespread damage to ecosystems. Burning wood, trash, or pellets releases particulates and carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and often strains local supplies of sustainably harvested biomass while robbing the soil of much-needed nutrient recycling. The effects of these energy sources on regional and planetary health are becoming increasingly evident through climate change, the most worrisome major global trend attributed to human activity.
IDEAL CONDITIONS AND CURRENT LIMITATIONS
The Living Building Challenge envisions a safe, reliable and decentralized power grid, powered entirely by renewable energy, supplied to incredibly efficient buildings and infrastructure without the negative externalities associated with combustion or fission.
Although there has been considerable progress made to advance renewable energy technologies, there is still a need for a greater efficiency from these systems and for new, cleaner ways to store the energy they generate. These needs, together with the current cost of the systems available, are the major limitations to reaching our goals.
One hundred and five percent of the project’s energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis, without the use of on-site combustion.15 Projects must provide on-site energy storage for resiliency.