Beauty and Spirit

The design of Burh Becc at Beacon Springs Farm celebrates the traditional spirit of the working farmhouse amidst a radically new and yet age-old permaculture farming operation. This farming method will restore the once-prime farmland worn out through over a hundred years of monocrop farming, and will provide abundant fresh produce for the local communities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Touted as an intellectual and cultural center for the Midwest, the Ann Arbor community welcomes innovation in sustainable building design and farming practices. The radical departure from traditional farming methods at Beacon Springs mirrors the radical departure from habits of urban sprawl common to the outskirts of Ann Arbor. The beauty and spirit of the Burh Becc building project speaks to the heart of this LBC agricultural transect project by creating a relatively small farmhouse on a hill adjacent to a small creek which provided water for a 19th century Michigan farming operation, after the original oak-hickory savannah was essentially destroyed. The home was designed not only to appeal to the current owners but also to provide a beacon of hope for a happy, healthy and sustainable future for all. For more details, please see the Biophilia narrative.

Inspiration and Education

Once under construction, the project owners, architect, builder and LBC project manager held a series of events to educate sustainability and building professionals, community members, and neighbors, to promote the mission of the International Living Future Institute and the principles of the Living Building Challenge.

Tours were conducted throughout the construction project: at groundbreaking; at completion of the building foundations; at completion of rough framing; during mechanical rough-in; at completion of most finish surfaces; and finally at certificate of occupancy and ribbon cutting. At the owners’ discretion, additional periodic celebrations continue to be held, for example on Earth Day. The owners also anticipate similar events as they develop the permaculture farming operation. The barn shop is designed to do double duty accommodating medium-sized groups for such events. The project owners maintain a website to share information about the design, construction, and operation of the farmhouse, at

As of the end of 2017, the owners and tour organizers estimate that approximately 3,000 tour participants and other house guests have been shown Burh Becc at Beacon Springs Farm.

An owner’s manual was developed through the combined efforts of all members of the design and construction team to ensure that every component of the Living Building is clearly understood for effective operation and maintenance of the building over time. Both hard copies and electronic copies were made available. The owners are refining this manual as they live with and learn about the buildings’ components and systems, guaranteeing that future owners will have not only the installers’ information, but also the knowledge gained through day-to-day living. The owners continue to track house performance regarding electricity generation and usage, as well as water usage, and included directions for the continual tracking of house performance at part of the owner’s manual.

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