King County Makes a Bold Commitment to Living Buildings

The International Living Future Institute lauds the County’s efforts to combat climate change
Dec 3, 2015 2:20 PM ET
Press Release

SEATTLE, December 3, 2015 /3BL Media/ - As part of a bold initiative to counter the effects of climate change, the King County Council recently voted unanimously to approve its new Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP), laying out a blueprint for concrete, actionable work in the realm of sustainability. The SCAP integrates the Living Building Challenge (the Challenge) into its vision for sustainable architecture, by registering 10 new Living Building Challenge Projects by 2020. The International Living Future Institute believes the county’s ambitious timeline is key to furthering Seattle and the surrounding region as a hub for regenerative design.

King County recently announced its commitment to the Challenge at Seattle’s Bullitt Center, a Living Building that generates more energy than it uses.

“Climate change threatens our health, economy, environment—our entire future,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “This ambitious, comprehensive strategic plan ensures that King County will remain a national leader in the effort to confront the greatest challenge of our generation.”

“Climate change is the paramount challenge of our generation,” said County Councilmember Larry Phillips. “It poses immediate threats to our resources and security and is an existential threat to our children and grandchildren. King County has a decade of increasing leadership in addressing climate change, and now our updated Strategic Climate Action Plan puts us once again at the forefront of climate action. I am proud to share our work on climate change with other Local Climate Leader's Circle delegates at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.”

The 2015 SCAP is the first climate action plan from a county government in the United States to integrate the Living Building Challenge into its development plans. The County’s action affirms what the International Living Future Institute has long promoted: reforming our architectural standards while improving building codes is an integral part of fending off climate change in the 21st Century.

The County’s 10 registered Living Building projects will focus primarily on new construction, with some attention also paid to building renovation. The County is also partnering with multiple cities on the LBC Demonstration Ordinance. The cities of Shoreline and Renton are the first to move forward with an LBC Demonstration Ordinance. The ordinances will incentivize the construction of Living Buildings in those cities. King County’s GreenTools Program will also be providing support through research identifying mechanisms to ease the development of Living Buildings.

The SCAP demonstrates the County’s ongoing commitment to forming a sustainable relationship with the earth. The Cascadia bioregion is a prime site to spark a transformation of U.S. building standards: the area’s incredible beauty and knack for innovation foster solutions to many environmental crises. With its ambitious plan to register ten (10) new Living Buildings over a five (5)-year period, King County shows itself as a leader in the fight against climate change.

“King County has a strong commitment to sustainability and climate change,” said Patti Southard, a green building specialist with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “High performing green building practices will contribute to fulfilling those values. That’s why King County is taking a deep dive and prioritizing Net Zero Energy and Living Buildings.”   


The International Living Future Institute is an environmental NGO committed to catalyzing the trans­formation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. Com­posed of leading green building experts and thought-leaders, the Institute is premised on the belief that providing a compelling vision for the future is a fundamental requirement for reconciling humanity’s relationship with the natural world. The Institute runs the Living Building Challenge, Living Community Challenge, Living Product Challenge, Net Zero Energy Certification, the Cascadia Green Building Coun­cil, Ecotone Publishing, Declare, JUST and other leading-edge programs. A global network of more than 350 volunteers across nearly 30 countries drive the local adoption of restorative principles in their com­munities.

The Institute operates the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous and progressive building performance standard. The Challenge is a philosophy, an advocacy tool and a certification program. Launched in 2006, more than 300 projects are currently registered for the Challenge. The Living Building Challenge fosters buildings that produce more energy than they consume, avoid known toxins and harmful chemicals, and collect and reuse their own water.


International Living Future Institute
Lisa Lilienthal

King County
Doug Williams