Arco paves the way for the “Living Buildings”

Arco paves the way for the “Living Buildings”
June 1, 2016 MDS

“Casa SN”. At Arco (Trento) the first Living Building Challenge registered project in Italy.

Living Building Challenge (LBC), created in 2006 by the International Living Future Institute (Seattle, WA), is a philosophy, an advocacy tool and a certification program. The LBC is the most advanced sustainability protocol for buildings and communities. A year has passed since the establishment of the Living Building Challenge Collaborative: Italy (the group of volunteers based at Progetto Manifattura in Rovereto, committed in the implementation of the LBC principles in Italy) and the second edition of REGENERATION (the first European design contest for young architects and engineers entirely based on LBC) has just ended. The “cultural” investment promoted by Macro Design Studio, the proactive consulting company of Rovereto working on the sustainability of the built environment, begins to bear fruits.

Casa SN” will be built in Arco and it is the first Italian project pursuing the Living Building Challenge certification. There are more than 330 LBC registered or certified projects in the world so far (the certification program was launched eight years ago) and the number is growing, not only in the US but also in Europe, in different climate zones and with different typologies (schools, offices, communities, research centers, dwellings). “Casa SN” will demonstrate that it is possible to create a building without environmental impact. It is a radical change: instead of designing buildings that consume a bit less than the traditional ones, we will create buildings that are capable of creating a positive impact on the environment.

How can we realize a building with no impact, following the criteria of the LBC protocol? Carlo Battisti and Paola Moschini, Macro Design Studio’s owners explain, “First of all, a” living building “is completely autonomous in the use of resources. Energy, water, waste: anything that is consumed is produced, processed and managed on site. The remaining impact on the environment, once minimized, is counterbalanced according to various offset programs. For example, CO2 emitted during the construction phase is compensated through a fund that promotes renewable energy projects for worthy social organizations. Furthermore, a LBC building is awesome, healthy (a special attention goes to personal health and the use of materials and products that are not harmful) and designed following biophilia, equity and transparency principles. In short, it is the building of the future, achievable today.”

The first Living Building Challenge registered project in Italy is also good news for the International Living Future, as commented by the president and CEO Amanda Sturgeon “It is remarkable that we have the first Living Building Challenge project registered in Italy. It will be an example of regenerative principles that will provide inspiration for all of Europe”.

A radical change requires the courage of innovators. Nicola and Sara Berlanda, a couple from Arco, are Italian pioneers who intend to put into practice the “regenerative” architecture principles of the LBC in the realization of their family home. Their enthusiasm demonstrates their choice to invest in a different and better future, and make their home the first demonstration in Italy of a different way to rebalance humanity’s relationship with nature. “Respect for the environment is a topic that has always been at our heart. It was therefore natural to be in tune with the LBC protocol from the first moment, despite some technical difficulties in a country that generally still lacks green construction.”

The role of Andrea Rigo, architect and co-owner of PLAN.architettura of Arco, designer of Casa SN, supported by Matteo Rigo, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer at Studio Vio of Venice, is crucial. Thanks to an integrated, multidisciplinary design process, a Living Building can become a reality. “One day, a winemaker proudly guided me through their vineyards and winery. After tasting I exclaimed: “Excellent!” I found the product really good, although I cannot call myself a wine expert. I noticed that nothing appears on the label specifying the maximum attention with which the grapes are cultivated and the wine is produced. So perhaps naively I asked why these features were not highlighted on the label. He replied, “The wine is natural in itself.” As an architect I say that living in a house is also natural per se, a natural process that requires best possible technique for the specific place and circumstance.”

The design process of Casa SN is in full swing, the beginning of the construction phase is scheduled for this summer. They expect to complete the project sometime during 2017. One of the features that radically differentiate Living Building Challenge from other certification programs the final certificate may be issued only after twelve months of operations, in which the consumption will be periodically measured. The building will prove to be completely self-sufficient in terms of energy through the use of renewable sources. The Living Building Challenge already anticipates what before long will become the new standard for European construction.

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