What Does Sustainability Mean to You?

When I first think of sustainability, I think of the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. These ‘3 P’s of Sustainability’ are commonly used and understood, and each one is very important.

There are many green building frameworks and certification programs out there, but I especially like the Living Building Challenge because it takes a very holistic approach to what sustainability means. It not only prioritizes things like energy and water use, but it also accounts for human health and happiness, beauty, and equity. Jason McLennan, the creator of the Living Building Challenge, said in his 2015 TED Talk that he wants to create buildings that are actually good for the planet, not less bad. This really resonated with me, and I think the Living Building Challenge provides an excellent framework that we should use as we shift to more sustainable building practices.

One great example of a Certified Living Building is the Hawai’i Prep Academy Energy Lab. Rainwater harvesting and PV panels help it to achieve net positive water and energy. It employs a number of measures to ensure occupant health, including the use of low-VOC materials, 24/7 CO2 monitoring, and separately exhausted toilets and janitor closet rooms. The energy lab also used a large proportion of ‘sustainable’ materials in its construction.

In summary, I believe many worthwhile sustainability goals are reflected in the Living Building Challenge, and it would be wise to implement strategies such as:

  • Rainwater capture
  • PV systems
  • Sustainable materials
  • Passive heating, cooling, and ventilation
  • Provide occupants with a pleasant experience that brings them closer to nature

Hawai’i Prep Academy Energy Lab