Off the grid

MARQUETTE – Ever wondered what goes into making a green building?

Making a building green, beautiful and functional isn’t as hard as it might seem; at least that’s what Cori Bodeman would like you to believe. Bodeman is a volunteer ambassador for the Living Building Challenge, a strenuous yet rewarding endeavor that creates buildings that are completely off the grid with zero impact on the environment. She will be presenting information about the Living Building Challenge at the monthly meeting of the Central Upper Peninsula Group of the Sierra Club.

“It’s just an hour-long education of what it is all about and that sustainability is possible,” Bodeman said.

Anyone who is interested in the environment, concerned about it or working in any profession that affects the environment is encouraged to attend. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library in Marquette.

“I educate people and tell them there is a higher sustainability that can be reached,” Bodeman said. “It’s a little difficult but it is an attainable goal and the architecture is beautiful because you are using materials at your disposal.”

The Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment. The challenge has seven performance areas called petals. A building can complete each petal to be considered green. Buildings that complete all the areas become certified as Living Buildings and serve as role models to other businesses hoping to go green.

The seven areas are: Site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. Even if a building only achieves some petals due to building code issues or physical limitations, the building will still be recognized.

One successful Living Building is the energy lab at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Kamuela, Hawaii. It functions as a net-zero-energy, fully sustainable building producing all of its own energy, harvesting water and providing natural ventilation. So far only three other buildings have received Living Certification, four have received Petal Certification and five have achieved Net Zero Energy Building certification. More than 160 other projects are currently in some phase of design, construction or operation.

“We recognize that some things will be difficult or impossible because of building codes or because it’s just not physically possible, but that’s why it’s a challenge,” Bodeman said. “Even if a building has three of the petals they will still be recognized for trying.”

While this meeting will only be an introduction to the Living Building Challenge, Bodeman hopes that one day there will be enough support to create a Living Building Challenge Collaborative in Marquette. Collaboratives provide support and educational opportunities in hopes of fostering the development of Living Buildings, sites and neighborhoods. Right now the nearest collaboratives are in Madison, Chicago, Grand Rapids and Detroit.

For more information about the Living Building Challenge, email Cori Bodeman at coribodeman@gmail.com.

Sylvia Stevens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.