Seth Godin[1] writes regular blog posts, which I regularly find to be insightful and inspiring. This week he wrote:

Will this be on the test?

The test, of course, offers nothing but downside. No extra credit, just points marked off. The test is the moment where you must conform to standards, to say what is expected of you.

Perhaps a better question is, “Will this be in the Playbill?”

The Playbill is the little program they hand out before the Broadway musical. The Playbill is all about extra credit, about putting on a show, surprising, elevating, doing something more than people hoped for.

A different part of our brain is activated when we think about what’s possible as opposed to what’s required.

The Living Building Challenge is in the Playbill. It’s set apart from other green building standards by its requirement for proven performance rather than anticipated outcomes. Its seven “petals” – site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty – embrace 20 imperatives to be followed in creating a Living Building. A building can achieve “petal recognition” for satisfying the corresponding requirements, without addressing all seven petals.

The first petal is "site," and it stipulates that buildings may only be built on previously developed land, including farmland. Here's proof that our land was previously used for farming: velvelweed. It grows in corn and soy fields, reseeds itself enthusiastically – and buried seeds can lie dormant for up to 60 years, germinating once the ground is disturbed, bringing in light and water. This patch has taken off on a pile of dirt moved for construction.

The first petal is “site,” and it stipulates that buildings may only be built on previously developed land, including farmland. Here’s proof that our land was previously used for farming: velvelweed. It grows in corn and soy fields, reseeds itself enthusiastically – and buried seeds can lie dormant for up to 60 years, germinating once the ground is disturbed, bringing in light and water. This patch has taken off on a pile of dirt moved for construction.

Tom and I, from the beginning, knew we would not be satisfied if we aimed for anything short of full Living Building status. We do indeed want to be in the Playbill, and not simply pass the test. As Jason McClennan, ILFI founder, said in a recent TED Talk, “We aim to not just do less harm to the environment, but rather to regenerate the environment in our construction.” (paraphrased)

So what are the seven petals and associated imperatives all about? I’ll embark on a series of posts discussing each, and our plans for achieving success in each area, beginning next week and continuing over the following weeks.

And don’t forget you can see our progress in person by registering for and coming to the first Visible Green Home tour, September 26–27.


 

[1] Seth Godin is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. (taken from Seth’s website)

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