The Living Building Challenge

Metropolis magazine wrote about the Omega Institute of Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, New York, one of the world’s greenest buildings. According to Metropolis, the institute creates its own energy through on-site geothermal and solar systems, and uses local, non-toxic materials – “there’s virtually no PVC, lead, or mercury to speak of.” The building was created using the International Living Building Institute’s living building standard. Certified living buildings must consume zero energy and water, consist of non-toxic materials, restore habitat, and produce food (all of these are actually required). 

One of the more interesting features is the building’s “eco machine,” a system that clearly demonstrates for visitors how plants and fish remove human waste from water. The system was described as “a self-contained sewage system that mimics nature’s self-corrective principles by freeing plants, bacteria, micro-organisms, algae, and fish to feast on human waste, thus purify-ing it, much as a stream cleanses its own ecosystem.”

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