The team heard the exciting news in mid-December: We’ve achieved our goal, and Burh Becc at Beacon Springs is a certified Living Building which

  • connects occupants to light, air, food, nature and community;
  • is self-sufficient and remains within the resource limits of its site; and
  • creates a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with it.

The Living Building Challenge provides a regenerative design framework to create spaces that, like a flower, give more than they take.

Each of us breathed a tremendous sigh of relief. After six years of design, materials vetting, construction and audit period, we’re elated to say, “We did it!”

A press release earlier this week announced the news to the world, inviting others to learn from and be inspired by our experience, and hopefully to incorporate green building and green living practices in their projects and actions.

The next step, already underway, is to restore the land to productivity. Tom spent the summer on the tractor, forming berms and swales on one large stretch of hillside, and planting 16 fruit trees on the berms. In the spring, we’ll continue the earthworks, and we’ll plant not only more trees, but also many more perennials of various types and sizes. The swales control water flow, providing free irrigation to the plants, and the plants themselves will be chosen to work well with each other and to build the soil. The Living Building part of this project was huge – and now seems to fade in the face of the 13 acres of clay at our doorstep.

Recently I came across a fact sheet, I believe put together by architect Michael Klement for one of the mid-construction tours. I’ll share a few of the items on list since even we can forget some of these impressive details (impressive thanks to the team of designers and builders; we’ve simultaneously created the impetus for them, and also simply come along for the ride of a lifetime):

  • R (insulation) values (higher score is better):
    • slab and basement walls, R-30
    • above-grade walls, R-48
    • roof/ceiling, R-68
  • air leakage: 0.45 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (ACH 50; measured by a blower door test) (lower score is better)
    • Passive House standard: 0.6 ACH 50
    • typical American home: 15 ACH 50
  • ResNet HERS Index of energy efficiency (lower score is better): –10
    • usual range for a net-zero energy ready home: <30
    • typical American home: 100

All that insulation and careful sealing of cracks – along with the passive heating and cooling elements built into the home – ilfi3 has resulted in our net-positive energy use – that is, we produced nearly 30% more electricity during our audit year than we used, sending that surplus back into the grid.

Again, all very impressive. And again, not remotely possible without the dedication and knowledge and enthusiasm demonstrated over these past six years by our impressive team of experts.

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