The Living Building Challenge: transformative development
We can get an idea of how LBC could be applied locally by examining what it would look like relative to the Apollo Plaza site in Monticello, NY, for which the Sullivan County Legislature recently accepted two proposals.
One of the proposals, by Carbon Harvest Energy, already complies with some of the LBC petals. It proposes to use the buried landfill to generate energy to run at least part of its operations. Including a 25-acre greenhouse, it entails urban agriculture, and by using the effluent from an aquaculture operation that will also be on site as fertilizer for the greenhouse, it both recycles waste and entails ecologically thrifty use of water.
However, the second proposed development, big box stores, meets none of the criteria of the LBC.
According to the LBC vision, the ideal project for the Apollo Plaza site would be a new urban village. Side by side with the aquaculture, agriculture and energy generation provided by Carbon Harvest, it would create affordable housing (with a minimum of 15% of the units remaining affordable through time), housing that mixes social, educational, racial and economic parameters, and that provides transitional housing for homeless citizens. There would be shared green space and walkable neighborhoods. The water for the entire complex could be gathered from available rainfall, with wastewater treated on-site through aquatic ponds that would meet the imperative of the Beauty petal while replenishing the natural aquifer.
In addition to generating energy by sustainable means, energy conservation could be achieved by designing living spaces to be thermally and energy efficient and to provide a healthy indoor atmosphere.
In keeping with the Site petal, there could be an economy of small shops for goods and services that serve the residents, so that car-free living becomes a possibility. Rather than big box stores selling global goods produced by cheap foreign labor and shipped in at enormous waste of energy, LBC would call for small shops that tie in closely to both local production and resident consumers: a small grocery that purveys the food that is grown locally at the site, a butcher shop that prepares the meat, a floral shop that brokers the flowers that are grown all year long in the green house, a barber and beauty shop, a community bank, professional services, alternative and holistic medical practioners and the like.