Living Building Challenge Certification 101


The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a rigorous building certification program that seeks to inspire advanced levels of sustainability. It’s overseen by the International Living Future Institute. During the certification process, project teams also have access to a wealth of information, support, and advocacy tools to guide the design and construction process toward peak aesthetics and performance.

LBC Performance Categories

The Living Building Challenge is predicated on seven performance categories, referred to as Petals. The seven Petals are Place, Energy, Water, Materials, Health & Happiness, Beauty, and Equity. These Petals are then subcategorized into twenty different imperatives. The LBC performance categories are designed in a way that can be applied to virtually any building project in any location and on any scale. Depending on the type and scope of the project, different imperatives will be applied to the project on a case-by-case basis.

Living Building Challenge Certification

There are three types of Living Building Challenge Certification: Living Building Certification, Petal Certification, and Net Zero Energy Building Certification. These processes are designed to be straightforward, with three main steps including registration, documentation, and operation, and audit and certification.

LBC Registration

The first step toward Living Building Certification, Petal Certification, or Net Zero Energy Building Certification is registration. Ideally, registration takes place before the design process begins. However, this is not mandatory timing. During the Living Building Certification registration process, the building team will provide project details such as typology and transect information. Typology discusses the scope of the project, such as a renovation, landscape, and infrastructure, building, or community. Transect distinguishes the geography or region of the project, such as a natural habitat preserve, rural project, or urban zone.

*Net Zero Energy Building Certification can only be registered under the Building Typology.

LBC Documentation and Operation

After registration, the building team can begin submitting documentation and planning the project. The documentation process will continue throughout the construction and operational phases. The operational phase records the project’s performance data for 12 consecutive months. This data is then submitted for audit.

LBC Audit and Certification

After the submittal of documentation, an independent, third-party auditor will perform a review of the documentation. The auditor will also conduct an on-site visit, during which information is collected to create a final report of the project. The International Living Future Institute will then review the report and award certification.