Design of Living Buildings


College of Architecture & the Built Environment




East Falls


On Campus




6 Months

Call to Actions


Program Overview

The Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment. This graduate certificate focuses on the design and certification of living buildings with a focus on the regenerative design of spaces and places that feature a strong connection to “light, air, food, nature, and community.”. As a student in this program, you will begin with an overall understanding of the sustainable design movement while also studying the “basics” of the Living Building Challenge. You will move on to study the various technical aspects of meeting the Challenge, with an emphasis on simulation, calculation, and validation. This Graduate Certificate is capped by a Living Building Design Studio that features interaction with professionals with direct experience in designing and certifying Living Building Challenge projects and ends with the design of a living building.

Students can begin this program during the Spring or Summer semester. Scholarships are available.

The Design of Living Buildings certification is a STEM designated program (CIP Code 04.0902). 



What is sustainability and why is it essential for the future of humanity? Learn how to analyze and articulate the sustainability imperative across four dimensions—ecology, economy, experience, and equity—while examining sustainability considerations at multiple scales in the built environment, from cities and regions to individual buildings and interiors.

An introduction to quantitative criteria that define adaptive responses as instrumental characteristics of design based on human comfort, program, climate and site. Investigations will seek an understanding of the reciprocity between competing (and often contradictory) design forces, such as theoretical versus real, dynamic versus static, spatial and numerical, energy gain and loss. An awareness of the function of scientific instruments for measurements and performance assessments on buildings and outdoor spaces on real sites with the goal of achieving human comfort will be explored. Students will propose design interventions in accordance with their experimental data and use simulation tools to assess ultimate performance of the intervention.

FALL SEMESTER: 6 credits

In this course, students will learn the critical technical aspects of achieving a living building. A variety of software packages will be used to design, visualize and validate a living building to meet the demanding sustainability design criteria of the Living Building Challenge. Students will complete the design of a simple project to test, and demonstrate their knowledge or apply their knowledge to a project in the Living Building Design Studio.

This studio-based course features the integrated design process as a means to generate regenerative solutions to complex design problems. Students will use the Living Building Challenge as the guide to create holistic design solutions that focus on place-making, net-zero water, net-positive energy, non-toxic materials, health & happiness; and equity and beauty. Students will design and validate the built project to meet the Living Building Challenge.