Taking the Living Building Challenge to the next level

When we design and build Google offices around the world, we strive to deliver on our commitment to sustainability. This means thinking about everything from reducing and diverting waste to cultivating healthy spaces and places to accelerating carbon-free energy strategies. It also means working with industry leaders to pave a path for others and push the boundary of what’s possible. The Living Building Challenge (LBC) by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) is one of the most ambitious green building certifications in the world. Of the largest projects ever to pursue certification through ILFI, five are Google’s workplaces — including our newest office in Sunnyvale, California.

Our collaboration with ILFI started nearly 20 years ago when we set out to combat the “new office” smell from fresh carpet and paint. As a sustainability partner for Google, this was one of my first projects: to use better materials to create the healthiest possible indoor environment. We used LBC’s Red List as a guide for what chemicals to avoid in our building products. Beyond improving the health of our indoor spaces, we also paved the way for others to purchase healthier materials. Through our purchasing power we encouraged more manufacturers to create third-party healthy material labels for their products.

Since that first project, we’ve hit more milestones with buildings across the U.S.

In 2015, we took our focus on materials to the next level with our Chicago office renovation. The 1000 West Fulton Market office renovation included 237,000 square feet of office space to build out. We expanded the reach of our Red List scope and pursued the ILFI’s LBC Materials Petal Certification. To do so, our project team reviewed every building product that was installed, procured responsibly sourced lumber, and prioritized local trade partners.

Next up was our first ground-up developments: Charleston East and Bay View in Silicon Valley. At 1.1 million square feet, Bay View is set to open this year while Charleston East, at 600,000 square feet, is nearing completion. These two buildings allowed us to work with the LBC on a scale never done before.

And finally, our newest addition to Google’s Sunnyvale campus — 237 Moffett Park Drive (237 MPD) — aspires toward a different kind of moonshot: to be the largest renovation project and the third-largest project ever certified by ILFI in the world. With this 250,000-square-foot project we are pursuing the ILFI’s LBC Materials Petal Certification, and we’ve designed the project to achieve four of the seven Petals and an LEED v4 Platinum Certification.

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Kolaso is a design studio founded in London and expanded our services, and offering solutions Worldwide.