The DC Living Building Challenge Collaborative

In 2011, Page Senior Project Architect Susan Block Moores, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, founded the Washington DC chapter of the Living Building Challenge Collaborative (DC LBCC), which she still facilitates today. The DC LBCC is a volunteer organization that is part of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), and it just announced the winners of its 2015 Affordable Living design competition.

The challenge was to design 10-15 single family affordable homes on a site in the community of Deanwood in southeast Washington, DC. Twenty-seven teams with 4-5 people on each from local design firms and schools took part in it. While the development of the winning team’s design is not a guarantee, the District of Columbia Department of Housing & Community Building (DHCD) is extremely interested the possibility.

The winning project “Urban Grapevine”, which was named for Marvin Gaye, a former resident of the Deanwood community, was selected because its team succeeded at incorporating all seven Living Building elements into their design. The jury agreed, "We all would like to live there!"  A resident of Deanwood who sat on the jury liked the design for its internal courtyard which would allow families to see their children playing outdoors from inside their homes. For more details on the competition and its winners, visit the DC LBCC website.

Today, the ILFI Living Building Challenge v3.0 (LBC) is currently the most rigorous sustainability certification system for the built environment.  It was created to both inspire and pull the market forward. The challenge is based upon seven 'petals', or elements:  Place, Energy, Water, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. The collaboratives provide a unique in-person forum to discuss sustainability issues with communities.

When Susan founded the the DC LBCC, it began with lectures and building tours. Then, a member brought in a project that was designed to achieve Living Building certification. The collaborative assisted on all seven petals of this project including the rigorous process of researching the materials not found in the LBC Red List.    

As she wrote in a featured article in the ILFI’s seasonal Trim Tab Magazine. “Through its work, the DC LBC Collaborative is pioneering the creation of sustainable communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.”

Contributed By

Susan Block Moores