Open Sourcing the Living Building Challenge


Open Sourcing the Living Building Challenge



We are setting out to build an open source house conforming to the most rigorous sustainable housing criteria in the world, the Living Building Challenge.

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Open Source: In production and development it is a development model that promotes universal access via a free license to a product's design or blueprint , including subsequent improvements to it by anyone.

The Living Building Challenge™ is the built environment's most rigorous performance standard. It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature's architecture. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy.

W.O.F.A.T.I. (or wofati): 

**due to the freaky-cheap nature of a wofati building and a few other reasons, it seems appropriate for this project**

Woodland. The word "forest" suggests "forestry" which embraces a lot of things I don't care for. The word "woodland" reminds me of Ben Law's excellent books The Woodland Way: A Permaculture Approach to Sustainable Woodland Management and The Woodland Year. A forest is .... used. A woodland is .... something that you are part of. Well, the key to making this word the highest priority is that this whole design would be silly if not built on, or very near, a woodland.

Mike Oehler. 80% of my design is standing on the rather brilliant shoulders of Mike Oehler.

Freaky-cheap. There are lots of easy ways to design a house that is even more costly than Oehler's original design. In fact, Oehler is moving in that direction. He has been called on to design several houses and his designs have evolved into replacing some polyethylene with the more expensive EPDM (pond liner). He has also introduced the use of some commercial insulation. I, on the other hand, have come up with things that meet the same concerns that end up costing even less. I've run these ideas by Mike and he agrees that they are sound! (Yeah baby!)

Annualized Thermal Inertia. John Hait's book is called "Passive Annual Heat Storage" - but what the title leaves out is that this design also brings a great deal of cooling in the summer. I think the phrase "Annualized Thermal Inertia" is more accurate.

Our design intentions

We are setting out to open source what seems to be the most rigorous sustainable housing criteria in the world. What this means is we will attempt to document everything thoroughly enough that someone could easily replicate what we have done. In practice this means putting all CAD drawings, construction documents, bills of materials, and instructional videos online for free under an open source Creative Commons license. Likely we will use the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license which allows people to share, copy, redistribute in any medium, adapt, remix, transform and build upon the original work, so long as they provide credit to the creators and anything they share must utilize this same open source license. Ultimately we would like to build at least one house in each major climate region so that the project as a whole will have the widest range of applicability. We also want to do so at an affordable price tag and hope that we can break below $50 per square foot.

With regards to this first iteration in Fallbrook California, the design intent is for the house to blend into the landscape, use extremely local materials (such as dirt from the site to create earthen berms), and use passive, low-cost, appropriate technology wherever possible. Of course we also want the home to be net energy and water positive, enhance the biodiversity of its surroundings, build soil, sequester carbon, and look more and more beautiful each day of its life.