Event Roundup: Glumac and the Living Building Challenge 3.0

The Petals of the Living Building Challenge 3.0 (LBC)

The Petals of the Living Building Challenge 3.0 (LBC)

Recently AWA+D members had the opportunity to attend an intriguing presentation and tour at the Glumac, an engineering firm with an office in downtown Los Angeles office. As a leader in sustainable design, the company likes to practice what it preaches—even when it involves refurbishing a space in a 1970s skyscraper.LEED certification has become an industry standard; however, the Glumac team takes it a step further by implementing many components found in the more stringent net-zero standards of the Living Building Challenge 3.0 (LBC). Although not practical to be completely net-zero in terms of sustainability in this existing building, the in-house teams put their minds to solving many issues and creating an office environment with key features that adhere to LBC.The principles of LBC include seven “petals” of sustainability with deeper checklists under each petal:

  1. Place

    • Limits to Growth

    • Urban Agriculture

    • Habitat Exchange

    • Human-Powered Living

  2. Water

    • Net-Positive Water

  3. Energy

    • Net-Positive Energy

  4. Health & Happiness

    • Civilized Environment

    • Healthy Interior Enviornment

    • Biophilic Environment

  5. Materials

    • Red List

    • Embodied Carbon Footprint

    • Responsible Industry

    • Living Economy Sourcing

    • Net-Positive Waste

  6. Equity

    • Human Scale + Human Places

    • Universal Access to Nature + Place

    • Equitable Investment

    • Just Organizations

  7. Beauty

    • Beauty + Spirit

    • Inspiration + Education

During the presentation the LBC Ambassadors and passionate Glumac hosts for the evening, Kameron Beeks and Justin Di Palo, gave an overview of each petal and the requirements with explanations using tangible imagery. For example Universal Access to Nature & Space means everyone should have the same opportunities in connecting to nature; however, when putting up a building that will tower over and cast shadows, it then interferes with a smaller building’s ability to equally receive sunlight and use its solar panels.Successfully achieving LBC is difficult. At the moment, there are only 5 buildings in existence that have met the standards for all seven petals. There are a few more LBC projects in development and Glumac has the honor of working on 3 of these in-the-works properties. This makes the firm one of the most knowledgeable in the world for developing cutting-edge environmental buildings.Many of the LBC buildings are small-to-medium sized to attain LBC-status. To understand why larger structures have difficulty meeting LBC guidelines, think about solar panels on top of tall office buildings: the amount of needed roof space for panels has to be significantly larger than what’s physically possible. Even with LEED Platinum, roofs are often smaller than what’s required. To achieve LBC, the energy needs of the building must either meet the energy created by solar panels on the roof or, if the building is in a wide open space, with adjacent land acting as a solar farm.From this overview, Kameron and Justin took us through which principles they could apply within their downtown building. This includes using heat generated from a fourth-floor data center (owned by a different tenant in the office tower) and developing piping within the buildings walls to bring the heat to upper floors. This heat is then distributed to Glumac as well as to the 10 floors above and below its office. Other features include passive chilled beams and radiant panels for the cooling system combined with a nod to pleasing design elements such as the niches for the lights and the swing chairs in the lobby.Please note that this presentation is eligible for an hour of continuing education requirements on architectural licenses and with the USGBC. Glumac is happy to host this presentation again so our members have the opportunity to earn credit while also being introduced to the next levels of sustainable design. If you’re interested in attending this presentation, please contact chairtours@awaplusd.org.Finally, Kameron and Justin gave us a solid book recommendation; see the gallery of images to check it out!

—Written by AWA+D member and architecture enthusiast Charla Myers, a Realtor® with the John Aaroe Group

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