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The Middlebury Living Building Challenge
The Living Building Challenge is the highest existing standard of green building certification that uses a whole systems approach to designing buildings and spaces that are socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. It aims to restore relations between people, community, and nature, embodying a truly regenerative approach to design with the goal of improving the existing state of environments rather than simply “doing less harm.” From achieving carbon neutrality to developing the Energy 2028 Plan, a deep commitment to sustainability lies at the heart of and continuously drives the passions of the Middlebury College community. After multiple LEED Building certifications and two Solar Decathlon projects, we believe it is time for Middlebury to take on the Living Building Challenge - to explore the real life-cycle impact of design, construction, and operation, and to go beyond technical aspects of sustainable design to create spaces that are tied to our land and community. (After all, Williams College already has a Living Building).

In order to achieve this feat, we require a diverse group of people from multiple disciplines and interests. Whether you are passionate about environmental justice, architecture, community resilience, biodiversity, or more, this sounds like the project for you. We need your help to put together a holistic plan and shape our vision of a Living Building on campus. Here’s a little teaser from the International Living Future Institute to give you a sense of what we can achieve:

“What if every single act of design and construction made the
world a better place? What if every intervention resulted in greater
biodiversity and social equity; additional outlets for beauty and
personal expression; a deeper understanding of climate, culture,
and place; a realignment of our food and transportation systems;
increased soil health; and a more profound sense of what it means
to be a citizen of a planet where resources and opportunities are
provided fairly and equitably?”

We are excited to begin to answer these questions with you and the rest of our community. We envision the implementation of these standards in one of the upcoming renovation projects for buildings on campus. For this semester we plan on becoming experts on and learning as much as we can about the Living Building Challenge, laying out a path for how we will approach it, and planning on how to advocate it to the college. We also have Professor Shelly Pottorf in the Architecture Department, who has a lot of experience with Living Building projects, willing to advise and guide us on this journey.
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