Living Building Financial Study

The Living Building Challenge, a program initially launched in 2006 and operated by the International Living Futures Institute, is considered by many to be the most advanced green building rating system in the world. A Living Building goes beyond the LEED rating system. It is a first step in the restorative design process to create buildings that achieve the standard of Net Zero for energy, water and waste. Information on the challenge can be found by visiting,

In order to put a price tag on an idea, in this case the LBC, the idea must be translated into a model, with form, place and quality defined. For the Living Building Financial study, a team led by SERA, joined by Skanska USA Building, Gerding/Edlen Development, New Buildings Institute and Interface Engineering with the staff of Cascadia, conceptually transformed nine LEED Gold buildings into Living Buildings. The buildings, all of which were at least completed through construction documents, were selected to represent a variety of development models and building types. The buildings characterize a range of uses, each of which was evaluated in four climate cities: Portland (temperate), Atlanta (hot humid), Phoenix (hot arid) and Boston (mixed) to determine the base building’s energy and water usage. More important than the absolute numbers derived for the small sample of projects analyzed in this study are the general insights into influences in costs of a Living Building and the range of pay back times.

The final study is available on the International Living Futures Institute website,