New Paradigm: Living Built Environment

Omega Center for Sustainable Living

Everything is changing over at the Cascadia Green Building Council.  Dropping the word “Region” from its name, the organization has new moniker to go with a new motto, “Envisioning the Living Future.”  But that’s not all.  The mission is new, too.  These changes seem designed to convey an upbeat focus not on individual buildings or projects but the whole built environment. 

The new mission reads thusly: “to lead a transformation towards a built environment that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

Jason F. McLennan, CEO of Cascadia Green Building Council, explained the changes, “We need a paradigm shift in our approach to the built environment … we can’t get there by focusing solely on single buildings and a ‘project-by-project approach.’  If we want societies capable of thriving in a world of limited resources, we have to develop appropriately-scaled, regionally-relevant strategies for water, energy, transportation and agriculture, and we have to integrate these strategies into our architecture and urban planning.

This focus on the built environment coincides, you may note, with the USGBC’s launch of LEED-ND, which also emphasizes not just buildings but neighborhoods and communities.  But, where LEED-ND is designed to bring about voluntary change in clusters, Envisioning the Living Future is about creating a massive transformation in the entire built environment. 

The built environment is a major source of green house gases, it’s full of waste, and creates pollution, says a statement released by Cascadia.  Buildings are full of toxic materials – including, but not limited to, PVC, mercury, and cadmium – that pose distinct health risks.  And for numerous reasons, users spend way too much time in vehicles when they should be at home or work or in between. 

Cascadia intends to change some of this through its organization and growing rank of members, as well as with the newest version of the Living Building Challenge.  More than 70 projects are seeking Living Building status, while Cascadia expects to certify its first four buildings sometime this year. 

[+] Learn more about Cascadia Green Building Council.

Media credit: Assassi (Omega Center). 


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  • Anonymous

    Looks like a great book. I am in a Green and Sustainable Design
    Certificate program.

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