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The Living Building Challenge: Designs for the Future

September 25, 2016

Imagine a world where sustainable energy and sustainable living is free for everyone. Sustainable in the way that we can be fully reliant on renewable energy to supply us with everything we would normally get from non-sustainable energy? This is a future which could become a reality should the exciting new concept of living buildings takes over.

As a part of the Green Architecture industry, living buildings are becoming a popular way for people to Go Green. Sometimes the term living building is applied to a home that has features such as solar panels and solar geysers to produce energy from the sun, but a living building is not just a structure that has solar systems.

Living buildings are designed to be 100% dependent on nature.

Living buildings are pushing designers and architects to their limits and encouraging them to think beyond their usual ideas of building homes or other structures. Sustainable building is certainly not a new concept, but living buildings are in many ways new as the focus is on the home as a whole and not just on the way that electricity is produced.

Your home is your ecosystem with the Living Building Challenge

A few years back, the Living Building Challenge was launched and the concept gained plenty of attention.  The entire concept is based on a flower, which takes energy from the earth to be able to blossom and grow.

Today, after a couple of years, the Living Building Challenge is pushing design forward and paving the way for an energy sustainable future for everyone. Some of the features that contribute to building a fully sustainable building include installing solar panels, sustainable heating and cooling systems, rain gardens to harvest water, a natural filter to clean and reuse wastewater, and natural sunlight for the interior, while the entire structure itself is built with environmentally sustainable, eco-friendly materials.

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Living homes make use of solar power and grey water systems along with a number of other systems.
Living homes make use of solar power and grey water systems along with a number of other systems.

These structures use no more energy than they are able to produce themselves. This means that energy is easily saved because it is always used sparingly. These kinds of Green buildings are the toughest out there, you will not find a structure more committed to renewable energy.

A basic look at how the living building works according to the Living Building Challenge

Energy, that is the electricity that is required to keep the place functioning, is generated using solar power. The dedication to Green energy starts when the building is under construction as a solar system is set up to generate enough electricity to complete the project. As with other solar systems, any unused energy goes back into the national grid.

Water is collected from the building as well. The run off from the roof is gathered from any rain or other precipitation and any grey water can be used for the irrigation of plants. Black water is also collected and both the grey water and the black water are treated on site, within the building.

On the inside, the focus is on living well and ensuring that the inhabitants enjoy a healthy life. Plants are used within the home to treat grey water as well as to provide clean air to the interior. Indoor lighting during the day comes naturally from the sun.

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One day we might be once more reliant on nature to provide for all of our energy needs.
One day we might be once more reliant on nature to provide for all of our energy needs.

To ensure that the structures are able to continue to provide for the inhabitants and designers need to prove that their buildings are dependent on nature alone.

Is the future really going to feature living buildings? This is almost a certainty so long as the designs can be proved to be sustainable. The future of the Green industry certainly looks interesting, who knows what envelopes will soon be pushed? What do you think?

Green Leaf Alternative Solutions is a Green contracting company dedicated to sustainable building methods and building products such as solar geysers, solar panels, grey water recycling systems and energy efficient lighting. You can find out more about us by visiting our website at http://www.greenleafalternativesolutions.co.za/ or by contacting us at info@leafas.co.za

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