Living Building Challenge Wins Buckminster Fuller Award

The Living Building Challenge, which embodies the very highest environmental standards for building construction and certification, is this year’s winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

The Seattle-based non-profit has been awarded $100,000 to further develop and scale its work, which envisions a built environment that is fully integrated with its ecosystem.

The Living Building Challenge includes both a set of core values and as well as technical priorities. It seeks to engage the broader building industry in the deep conversations required to re-imagine business-as-usual, and transform building occupants from passive consumers into active stewards of increasingly scarce resources.

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Since 2010, when The Living Building Challenge was a Buckminster Fuller Challenge finalist, it has gained momentum, extending its reach well beyond its initial base in the Pacific Northwest, and is influencing sites all over the world. They’ve demonstrated their principles are feasible, replicable and translatable to a wide range of contexts, including emerging economies and lower income neighborhoods.

There are registered Living Building Challenge projects in Australia, Canada, France, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania and the US, with emerging projects elsewhere. In the US, there are sites in 30 states.

The approach inspires a new level of collaboration between building owners, construction trade, architects, engineers and regulators. Not only do the principles in and of themselves hold the potential to catalyze widespread innovation within the industry, but they’ve been training a network of ambassadors in every country with a registered building as well as many others, throughout Latin America, Europe and in South Africa.

Buckminster Fuller Challenge

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, named for one of the most important futurists and visionaries of the 20th century, is the world’s premier annual global design competition.

It recognizes bold, visionary, tangible initiatives that take a comprehensive, anticipatory, design science approach to radically advance human well being and the health of our planet’s ecosystems.

"If Bucky Fuller were with us today," says Challenge Juror Kenny Ausubel, "he’d be smiling because the Living Building Challenge exemplifies his mission statement for humanity: ‘To make the world work for 100 percent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense for the disadvantage of anyone.’

"The Living Building Challenge is especially important at this make-it-or-break-it moment when humanity must rapidly address climate change in disruptive, systemic ways. At a cusp when world populations continue to place increasingly radical strains on the biosphere, innovating on how we redesign the built environment is imperative," says Ausubel.


Future of Fish, a nonprofit accelerator for entrepreneurs launching market-based initiatives that drive sustainability, efficiency, and traceability in the seafood supply chain, is the Runner-Up.

Honorable Mentions:

Eco-Fuel Africa Ltd works with rural farmers in Africa to make clean cooking fuel and organic fertilizers called biochar from agricultural waste like coffee husks and sugarcane waste.

Providing farmers with access to free organic fertilizers, they are reducing indoor air pollution and fuel costs, combating deforestation, enhancing the fertility of depleted farming soils, boosting rural incomes, and empowering communities.

The Water Retention Landscape of Tamera, is a model for natural decentralized water management, restoration of damaged ecosystems and disaster prevention. It is a basis for reforestation, agriculture and aquaculture, especially in regions threatened by desertification, and is an integral part of a comprehensive model for sustainability in water, food, energy and social structures.

Here are some past winners:

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