Giving a Building Life
A living building sounds like something out of a futuristic, sci-fi movie, but it’s closer than you think — 2015 to be exact. The Alice Ferguson Foundation just broke ground for a living building at Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek.
The Foundation is the first in the region to build a living building and will be fourth in the world to earn the title.
What does it take to create a living building?
Fifteen million dollars, a checklist of green must-haves, seven years of planning and a nature-inspired design plan.
The living building must use net-zero energy. It will absorb energy through solar panels and geothermal technology for power. The energy the building doesn’t use will be sent into the grid. Some days, the building will need to take from the grid, but it should use only the amount of energy that the building has put out.
The green checklist also includes using rainfall as its water source, building with non-toxic materials and having a net-zero carbon footprint.
If the building stays at net-zero energy for a year, then it will be the fourth living building deemed by the International Living Future Institute.
Once built, the living building will teach the thousands of elementary students who visit Hard Bargain Farm about creating buildings that emulate nature, instead of depleting it.
The hardest part of the seven-year planning, said Lori Arguelles was finding non-toxic materials.
“We’re light years beyond what the building-world is commonly doing,” says Arguelles. “The supply chain is filled with toxic materials that we accept in our everyday lives.”
She hopes that the more people start demanding greener, cleaner supplies, the easier and cheaper it will be for more people to start embracing these green principles.
“Right now we are unique,” Arguelles says, “but we hope one day we are ubiquitous.”