We are excited to sponsor Talking Architecture & Design Podcast in 2023 as the commercial category sponsor. Our second podcast in 2023 speaks with Laura Hamilton-O’Hara, the CEO of Living Future Institute Australia, about biophilia, fractals and why the Living Building Challenge is important to the built environment.

The Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA) is an environmental not-for-profit known for its work with The Living Building Challenge (the world’s most stringent sustainability standard). The standard was developed over a decade ago by architect Jason McLennan.

LFIA helps run The Living Building Challenge in Australia through contextualisation, education, advocacy, advisory services and running transparency labels for building materials known as Declare labels. LFIA works with a number of strategic partners including GH Commercial.

“What makes the strategic partner particularly special is that they are organisations that are in their own right trying to build a regenerative living future. GH Commercial actually holds the highest number of Declare labels in Australia. I think they’re on like 27 or something now, and aiming to do their whole range and I just think that’s such a commitment to transparency and transparency in materials and transforming the material supply chain,” LFIA’s CEO Laura Hamilton-O’Hara said.

Incorporating fractals into building design

The Living Building Challenge is made up of seven performance categories or ‘Petals’: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Incorporating biophilic design plays a major part in achieving these goals.

“It’s about designing human habitat rather than human storage boxes and recognising that humans have been indoors only for a couple of hundred years and recognising that humans have been out in nature for thousands of years,” Laura said.

Part of biophilic design includes incorporating fractals, which are common patterns found in nature.

“Humans actually love fractals. There is heaps of research being done into why we like fractals…Some recent studies have found things like fractal patterns can reduce stress up to 60% and there is a growing body of research on that,” Laura said.

“GH Commercial does that very well incorporating fractals into their carpets so not only is there a lot of commitment around transparency, they’re also incorporating a lot of thinking around biophilic design”.

“I know all our projects in Australia use the GH Commercial carpet because it hits the material petal, the transparency petal, that local economy sourcing plus the biophilic design”.

Laura suggests when designing a new building to make some specific choices towards biophilic design like selecting natural materials and orienting the building so that you can make good use of passive ventilation.

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Sustainability makes good business sense

The Living Building Challenge is about sustainability, and Laura notes that sustainability makes good business sense.

A recent study by UTS, Lendlease and Junglefy compared two buildings with solar in Barangaroo, Sydney: one operating solar with a green roof, the other without a green roof. On the building with the green roof, they found the solar worked on average 4% better, and at its maximum up to 17% better than the roof next door.

“When you convert that into dollar figures that’s thousands of dollars not to mention the added benefits around being able to manage stormwater, being able to help clean the air in terms of particulates and increasing biodiversity. There are all these knock-on benefits for it”.

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Authored date: 01/05/2023