International Living Future Institute Kicks off Living Future unConference in Seattle


Highlights include compelling keynotes and news of significant scaling of the Living Building Challenge 22 projects including Etsy and Microsoft

Office photography of Etsy’s Brooklyn (DUMBO) Headquarters (HQ) at 117 Adams Street.

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) on May 17 kicked off the 2017 unConference, a sold-out gathering of 1,000+ experts in green building, place making and regenerative design who are celebrating the “Genius & Courage” of a movement that is fast gaining momentum. Van Jones opened the conference on Thursday, and Naomi Klein was the Friday morning keynote.

“We look to our keynote speakers to connect our movement with the broader social dialogue,” said Amanda Sturgeon FAIA, CEO of ILFI. “And this year is no exception. Van and Naomi will help frame a dynamic conversation about how we maintain momentum in an era of unprecedented challenge for the ideals that we hold dear – how to build communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.”

The Living Building Challenge Scales

A record-setting 22 new projects have certified in the past year, scaling the program to a total of 74 certified projects and demonstrating that the Living Building Challenge is not only possible but replicable.


This newly certified 500,000+ square feet of space includes projects in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand and ranges from Googles Chicago offices, to an award-winning multi-purpose building for one of New Zealand’s indigenous peoples, to Etsy’s Brooklyn, NY, headquarters, to NRDC’s San Francisco office — their fourth such certification. Additionally, Microsoft has confirmed it has registered their 600,000 SF Silicon Valley Campus as a Living Building Challenge project, with a focus on the Water Petal. The company looks forward to sharing more details on their progress in the coming months.

The tribal center for the Tuhoe Maori, from the North Island of New Zealand, is now certified as a Living Building; a project that represents the cultural values of the Tuhoe people. Kirsti Luke, Chief Executive, Tūhoe Te Uru Taumatua, Ngāi Tūhoe’s Tribal Authority, shared a vision for all indigenous communities around the world in her talk.

Tuhoe-Jasmax Arrow Monsoon TeUruTaumatua
Tuhoe-TUT Te Kura Whare Professional Shots Troy Baker

“When we first released the Living Building Challenge we were told that this level of regenerative design was not possible, not only have we proven it is but we have shown that Living Buildings can scale to all project types and sizes around the world,” said Sturgeon.

Cincinnatti Zoo

A full list of all Living Building Certified Projects, along with case studies, can be found here:

The unConference, which ran May 17-19, featured a far-reaching agenda of workshops, networking opportunities and celebration of Genius & Courage. For more information, visit

Day Two News, May 18:
International Living Future Institute and New Buildings Institute Partner to Accelerate the Zero Energy Movement

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) and New Buildings Institute (NBI) today announced a partnership that will streamline and strengthen the tracking and certification of zero energy (ZE) buildings in order to drive broader market adoption, codification and standardization of ZE technologies in everyday buildings.

“NBI and ILFI are aligned in our shared vision for a future where high performance, ultra-low energy buildings powered by renewable energy are the norm, not the exception,” said Amanda Sturgeon, CEO of ILFI. “Through each of our programs, we have demonstrated time and again that zero energy is achievable and scalable. Together, we can catalyze this movement.”

As a first step, NBI and ILFI will consolidate certified, verified and emerging ZE building projects into a single, unified dataset with common categories. In addition, NBI and ILFI will also share a protocol for data collection, certification and case studies. The partnership builds on the strengths of each organization, and the end result will be one seamless system for tracking, registering, certifying, and evaluating the burgeoning zero energy movement.  The buildings industry—design teams, builders, owners, operators and others—will also get the needed clarity on the standards for zero energy performance using data driven outcomes for validation.

Within this collaboration, the ILFI will continue as administrator of the Zero Energy Building Certification, while NBI will act as lead certification auditor as well as administrator of the building data.  In addition, projects currently pursuing the Living Building Challenge will be added to the emerging ZE set, creating a broad cohort of leading edge projects worldwide.

“We have the opportunity to reimagine and remake the built environment by 2050,” said Ralph DiNola, CEO of NBI. “Zero energy buildings offer a pathway to that future. Today, nearly half of U.S. energy and 75% of electricity is consumed by buildings. By combining our efforts, we can dramatically reduce carbon emissions and provide deeper insight into what it takes to get to ZE and in doing so, we will rapidly grow the number of buildings striving for zero energy.”

Over the next several months, ILFI and NBI will work to further integrate the way they accept project data and communicate about the new certification and database protocols. Tracking and spotlighting success and lessons learned remains a key goal for both partners in order to fuel continued growth of projects in the residential, multifamily and commercial sectors.

If you have a zero energy building that you would like to register, please visit

About the International Living Future Institute
The International Living Future Institute is a hub for visionary programs. The Institute offers global strategies for lasting sustainability, partnering with local communities to create grounded and relevant solutions, including green building and infrastructure solutions on scales ranging from single room renovations to neighborhoods or whole cities.  The Institute administers the Living Building Challenge, the environment’s most rigorous and ambitious performance standard. It is the parent organization for Cascadia Green Building Council, a chapter of both the United States and Canada Green Building Councils that serves Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. It is also home to Ecotone Publishing, a unique publishing house dedicated to telling the story of the green building movement’s pioneering thinkers and practitioners.

About New Buildings Institute

New Buildings Institute (NBI) is a nonprofit organization working to improve the energy performance of commercial buildings. NBI works collaboratively with commercial building market players–governments, utilities, energy efficiency advocates and building professionals–to remove barriers to energy efficiency, including promoting advanced design practices, improved technologies, public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency. NBI has been a leader in the zero energy buildings movement and is working with industry and partners to mainstream zero energy performance by 2050. Learn more at