Washtenaw County residents will have a chance to mark Earth Day with a tour of a local green home that aims to be only the second private residence in the world to earn the stringent Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification.
Ann Arbor firm Architectural Resource, along with homeowners Tom and Marti Burbeck, are inviting the public to tour the Lodi Township home, called Burh Becc at Beacon Springs. The home was built to earn the LBC sustainability certification, which was developed by the International Living Future Institute.
"LBC certification is currently the most rigorous green certification program on the planet," says Michael Klement, the home's architect.
The LBC certification goes beyond the commonly used Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by requiring net zero energy, net zero water, and net zero waste, among other stipulations. It also requires homeowners and builders to think about sustainability in new ways.
"When you see house plans where the same house is being built in Baton Rouge, La., and Spokane, Wash., something is out of sorts with that," Klement says. To be a "living building," a residence must be in harmony with its surroundings, he says.
What the LBC guidelines don’t do is tell architects exactly how to accomplish these goals.
"They explain what good building looks like and then ask you to figure out how to achieve that," Klement says.
In the case of the Burbecks' home, moving from philosophy into practice entailed creating a highly energy-efficient "building envelope" that uses roughly 80 percent less energy than the typical home, using recycled wood floors from a local school to create a ceiling treatment, and using the roof to catch and filter water, which is then stored in three 2,500-gallon buried tanks.
Another difference with the LBC certification is that it is not awarded on projected performance but on actual performance. The Burbecks applied for certification in December 2016 and their home is currently five months into a 12-month probationary period. If the home achieves LBC standards, it will be awarded LBC certification this December.
More information about Burh Becc at Beacon Springs and the LBC certification process is available here. Tours of the home will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 22. Tours are free but visitors must pre-register here.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images courtesy of the Burbeck family.