Bent on Reducing the Fear Factor
Jason F. McLennan has left an “incredible legacy of brilliant ideas and visions for our future,” says Amanda Sturgeon, the new CEO of the International Living Future Institute, which administers the sustainable-building certification program called the Living Building Challenge.
“Our task is to get those ideas more broadly accepted,” adds Sturgeon, who took over as CEO in January, when McLennan, the five-year-old group’s founder and the creator of the Living Building Challenge, stood down as CEO and became chairman of the board. Education, and more built examples will reduce the fear factor and help bring prices down, says Lisa Petterson, senior associate with architect SRG Partnership and an institute board member.
That’s already happening regarding the demanding materials section, which bans use of products that contain harmful chemicals. Thanks to Seattle’s Bullitt Center—the only Living Building-certified speculative office building—the industry has the first catalog that indicates whether a product is in compliance with the materials section, says Casey Schuchart, vice president of strategy for Bullitt’s contractor, Schuchart.
Bullitt Center actually inspired Prosoco Inc., which makes a liquid-applied flashing, to reformulate its product to be free of phthalates—without increasing its price. “Sounds easy, but it wasn’t,” says David Boyer, Prosoco president and CEO.
Other suppliers are following Prosoco’s lead, including flooring-covering maker Mohawk Group and Knauf Insulation Inc. Still, materials remain the most challenging section for contractors and suppliers. “Jason is throwing down the gauntlet,” says Boyer. “He might get there, but it’s not easy. There are a lot of land mines.”