LBC is widely considered the world’s most ambitious, advanced, and holistic performance standard for buildings. This article will showcase how cove.tool can be used to assist users pursuing any of the Living Building Challenge's certifications.

What is the Living Building Challenge?

Living Building Challenge (LBC) 4.0 is a certification process developed by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), which has created a framework for projects to work towards the ideal built environment. The certification program encourages designers, builders, and owners to work together to have their buildings function "as cleanly and efficiently as a flower." The LBC's mission is to lead the transformation toward a civilization that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. ILFI's believes that buildings should be:

  • Self-sufficient - remaining within the resource limits of their site.

  • Regenerative - connecting occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community.

  • Positive - creating a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them rather than merely minimizing negative impacts.

The Challenge is comprised of 20 Imperatives which are grouped into 7 categories known as the Petals. The Petals are Place, Water, Energy, Health + Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.

The Seven Petals, a description, and their associated Imperatives are listed below:

  1. PLACE - Restoring a healthy interrelationship between nature, place, and community. PLACE is about using the site wisely, developing space to grow food, protecting and restoring habitats, being considerate of neighbors, and how people will live there.

    1. Ecology of Place

    2. Urban Agriculture

    3. Habitat Exchange

    4. Human-Scaled Living

  2. WATER - Creating developments that operate within the water balance of a given place and climate. Water covers using portable water wisely, managing stormwater, wastewater, and water collection.

    1. Responsible Water Use

    2. Net Positive Water

  3. ENERGY - Relying only on Renewable resources. ENERGY is for energy efficiency and creating our own renewable electricity based on current solar income to reduce carbon emissions.

    1. Energy + Carbon Reduction

    2. Net Positive Carbon

  4. HEALTH + HAPPINESS - Creating environments that optimize physical and psychological health and well-being. H+H is about light and ventilation inside the building, monitoring it, and good indoor/outdoor connection.

    1. Healthy Interior Environment

    2. Healthy Interior Performance

    3. Access to Nature

  5. MATERIALS - Endorsing products that are sade for all species through time. MATERIALS guides use to use materials that are sustainably sourced, non-toxic, support the region's economy, and minimize waste.

    1. Responsible Materials

    2. Red List

    3. Responsible Sourcing

    4. Living Economy Sourcing

    5. Net Positive Waste

  6. EQUITY - Supporting a just, equitable world. EQUITY reminds us to create a welcoming and user-friendly exterior spaces, be good neighbors and benefit the wider community.

    1. Universal Access

    2. Inclusion

  7. BEAUTY - Celebrating design that uplifts the human spirit. BEAUTY asks us to incorporate biophilic design principles which means to arrive at a design that is connected to the place, climate, culture, and community; and to educate and inspire others.

    1. Beauty + Biophilia

    2. Inspiration + Education


What are the different LBC Certifications?

As of 2021, the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has released 5 types of certifications. 2 related to the Living Building Challenge: Living Certification, Petals Certification, and 3 simplified programs: Core Green Building Certification, Zero Energy Certification, and Zero Carbon Certification.

  • The Living Certification is considered the highest level of sustainability and regenerative design. To earn, a team must achieve all imperatives associated with the project typology, as well as submit 12 months of occupancy data to ensure operations reflect the predicted design models.

  • The Petal Certification seeks to closely examine one Petal of the Living Building Challenge. Additionally, this certification level also requires the project to achieve all imperatives in the Water, Energy, or Materials Petal.

  • The Core Green Building Certification is designed to meet a unique need in the marketplace. Focused on simplicity, the framework outlines 10 best practice achievements a building must obtain to be considered green or sustainable. Projects seeking this certification must meet ten Core Imperatives (up to two Core Imperatives per Petal) and verify the project's water and energy performance for a twelve-month period. The goal of the program is to rapidly close the gap between the highest levels of other established green building programs and the aspirations of the Living Building Challenge.

  • The Zero Energy Certification (ZE) is designed for projects seeking to achieve net-zero energy through the on-site production of renewable energy. ILFI defines net-zero energy as "One hundred percent of the building’s energy needs on a net annual basis must be supplied by on-site renewable energy, with no combustion."

  • The Zero Carbon Certification (ZC) is designed for projects seeking to impact climate change through energy and materials. To achieve certification, 100% of the project's operational energy use must be offset by new on-site or off-site renewable energy. A targeted energy efficiency level and reduction in embodied carbon from the project's materials must also be achieved. Additionally, 100% of the carbon emission impacts from the project's construction and materials must be disclosed and offset.


How can cove.tool help?

At the moment, cove.tool can be used to pursue 8 Imperatives for LBC 4.0, details are below.

  • PLACE 04_Human Scaled Living - users can use the Properties Lines Feature to survey the 0.5-mile radius of the site and identify surrounding density and uses to best identify appropriate scale for the project. Also, find a Walk Score in every final report to see how accessible your site already is.

  • WATER 05_Reponsible Water Use - Users can use the Water Tool Feature for estimating anticipated water use for preliminary indoor and outdoor water used strategies.

  • WATER 06_Net Positive Water - users can use the Stormwater Management calculator to estimate the rainwater storage capacity.

  • ENERGY 07_Energy + Carbon Reduction - using the Baseline Energy Page in the app, users can calculate total energy consumption, predicted carbon emissions, and % reduction for EUI and kgCO2e, as well as model various energy generation strategies.

  • ENERGY 08_Net Positive Carbon - users can use the Optimization Tool to identify the top energy-performing and lowest carbon-emitting bundles.

  • H+H 09_Healthy Interior Environment - using the Daylight and Quality Views 3D Analysis, users can ensure maximum visual comfort for <75% of regularly occupied spaces.

  • EQUITY 17_Universal Access- users can use the Shadow Tool to test access to sunlight for adjacent developments, as well as the Sun Hours Feature to ensure optimized massing and landscape for the building.

  • BEAUTY 19_Beauty and Biophilia - users can use the various 3D Analysis features to test and inform Light and Space, Shapes, and Forms of the building.

Happy Modeling!


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