About two decades ago [in the pioneering years of green building] I had the privilege to work on an exciting fantasy green building project for Montana State University. They assembled a green dream team to brainstorm outside the box. The project catapulted by visionary technologies and design concepts was aptly named the Epicenter. It was to house the University’s Department of Chemistry.
One of the inspiring visionaries was a young architect that worked for Bob Berkebile at BNIM. His name was Jason McLennan. Bob and Jason came up with leading edge performance standards for the project which were unheard of at the time. This included advocating for net zero energy, water and waste and beyond. They also emphasized user health and productivity and individual control of their environment, including chem labs that would embrace “green chemistry”, also an emerging field.
Jason’s eyes sparked with hope and passion, his hair a bit long and scraggly, with a leather strapped ornament exuding a sense of power. He was bold and relentless as he helped advance the project’s unequaled performance metrics. Despite being in green building for some years, I learned about new integrated approaches and possibilities. It gave me hope that we could do better and lead our way to a more regenerative future.
Although the project unfortunately never got built due to funding reasons, Jason went on to advance his and Bob’s net zero ideas into the Living Building Challenge Rating system. In addition, he founded the Living Future Institute featuring its annual conference that draws thousands of cutting edge sustainable building advocates. Google has become the largest user of the rating system which also features a red list for unhealthy building materials. Together, the two initiatives have advanced our movement and inspired many to demand more and push higher.
I’m so excited to feature Jason in a personal dialog with me for this week’s Regen360 iTunes podcast show. We dive into his work in founding the Living Building Challenge rating system and what inspires his visionary practice. Jason demonstrates many of the attributes and steps for what it takes to build a movement. He’s also an author and recipient of the prestigious Buckminster Fuller Prize.
To a living future!