Living Building Challenge

The Old Oak Dojo is pursuing the world’s most rigorous building standard, the Living Building Challenge (LBC), which challenges us to ask the question, What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place? The building is made of locally sourced and salvaged materials, harvests and re-uses natural resources and supports more than 1,000 square feet of urban agriculture.

Photo by Lars Nelson

Urban Agriculture

Food is a catalyst for bridging difference and bringing people together. Given our soil’s high lead content, we constructed four raised beds to grow crops and feed our community.

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Rainwater Harvesting

Our rainwater harvesting system diverts water in three directions: into rain barrels dedicated to the garden, into a cistern for indoor use, and toward the roots of the Old Oak, recharging the groundwater.

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Our materials are salvaged, re-purposed or regionally sourced. The decking is from the roof of a pool in Watertown, the floors from a paper mill in Lawrence, the frame from a movie set on the North Shore.

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We relied as much as possible on natural light, positioning windows to include direct and reflected light. All electrical lighting is low energy and uses LED bulbs.

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Radiant Heat

We installed radiant heat beneath the wood floor to help maintain constant room temperature. This electric source of heat is a low-energy approach to warming objects rather than air.

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We combined passive ventilation with an energy recovery ventilator that harvests the energy and humidity from interior air and exchanges it for fresh air.

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Composting Toilet

Indoor composting toilets are reliable, convenient and safe, and they convert human waste into useful fertilizer. Strange that it would take 12 months for our application to be approved, no?

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Living Roof

The roof of the Old Oak Dojo has been designed to support growing vegetation over a waterproof membrane. This helps insulate the building, absorb rainwater and help lower urban air temperatures.

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Solar Energy

Today’s buildings should be rely on renewable energy. Our site has no access to wind, geothermal or hydropower — and the Dojo is hidden from the sun by the Old Oak. What to do?

More about solar energy