The Living Building Challenge, and Why It Matters to Us

By Stacy Metzger //

The Living Building Challenge is the world’s most advanced green building standard. According to the International Living Future Institute website, 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. Living buildings give more than they take, creating a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them.”

PV Squared has proudly worked on Living Building Challenge projects at two local academic institutions of distinction and one renowned environmental center. Our first collaboration on a Living Building Challenge Project took place in 2012, where PV Squared designed and installed a 9.4 kW top of pole mount (TPM) solar array at the Bechtel Environmental Classroom at Smith College that generates more electricity than the building uses on an annual basis.

A few years later we worked with the great team at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, where we installed a roof-mounted 60kW solar array on their newly constructed 9,000 sf green building. The system was built with high-efficiency equipment, and is connected to the electric utility grid to utilize net metering. The Hitchcock Center continues to incorporate green building elements into their work, providing free Living Building Challenge tours twice monthly to the community.

Additionally, we worked with the project team on the R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College. PV Squared designed and installed a 118 kW rooftop solar array that generates more than enough energy for the building because of its integrated design. Since its completion in 2017, this 17,000 sf facility has received a 2017 AIA (American Institute of Architecture) COTE (Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Award. This is the industry’s best-known accolade for sustainable design excellence.

We feel fortunate to be a part of this community in Western Massachusetts that values excellence in green building design, and is leading the nation by example. It’s always a pleasure to work on these projects because they require innovative design, collaboration, and quality installation practices.