What would happen if you decided to take on the challenge to create the greenest building in the U.S.? That is just what the non-profit, Omega Institute of Holistic Studies decided to do. They spent the last four years working to achieve one of the most prestigious honors in the green world – The Living Building Challenge. To make this happen, Omega had to reach the most advanced level of sustainability in a built environment.
Omega took on this bright green challenge and went beyond. They were recently awarded the highest LEED Platinum certification and the honor of creating one of two green “Living Buildings” in the world.
What is LEED Platinum status?
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance building. LEED provides building owners and operators the tools they’ll need to create a measurable impact on their building’s performance. By meeting certain criteria a project accumulates credits that determine the LEED status, Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.
What is a “Living Building?”
A Living Building diminishes the gap between current limits and ideal solutions. It is comprised of seven performance areas or ‘Petals’: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty.
The Omega Center For Sustainable Living
I spent last Saturday at Omega, touring the building and listening to architects, designers and eco-visionaries discuss the inspirational process of creating The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). The OCLS is a state-of-the-art water reclamation facility and environmental education center that brings together wastewater recycling, clean energy, green architecture and other sustainability elements that can be replicated locally and globally.
The OCSL was described by Skip Backus, Omega’s chief executive officer and general project manager as: “A Living Building that has its own soul.” Skip explains the importance of building green, “Inherent to any solution to our environment’s problems has to be the understanding of the essential interconnection between ourselves, nature and each other.” Learn more in the video below.
Three Awe-Inspiring Things About the OCSL
1. As a high-performance designed building, the OCSL is powered by passive solar heating, a geothermal system, a photovoltaic power and includes a greenhouse and green roof, constructed wetlands and a green classroom that integrate seamlessly with the natural environment.
2. The OCSL is a teaching facility that teaches Omega participants as well as local schoolchildren how to adopt sustainable living practices in their own lives and homes.
3. From waste come life – At the core of the center is a greenhouse with a living water filtration system that uses plants, bacteria, algae, snails and fungi to recycle Omega’s wastewater (approximately 5 million gallons per year) into clean water used to restore the aquifer.
What if every act of design and construction made the world a better place?
Watch this video to learn more: