A Living Building Challenge: Touring the Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion

About a week ago I had the privilege of joining members of the U.S. Green Building Council North Texas Chapter and fellow members of the Living Building Challenge North Texas Collaborative on a trip to Leo Ranch outside Decatur, Texas, to visit the Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion, a building designed by Lake|Flato Architects and on track to be the first Living Building in Texas.

For a building to identify as a Living Building, it must meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge, a building certification program that establishes the highest measure of sustainability in the built environment. The Challenge is comprised of seven performance categories called Petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty.

The Josey Pavilion is a suitable building for the Challenge because as an education center, gathering place and a demonstration site for the Dixon Water Foundation, an organization that promotes healthy watersheds using sustainable land management practices, the site promotes ecological stewardship.

“Everybody who comes through here is going to learn about this building as much as our ranches,” said Melissa Bookhout, Secretary/Treasurer and North Texas Education Director for the Dixon Water Foundations. “We feel very privileged to be a part of this building.”

Corey Squire, Sustainability Coordinator at Lake|Flato Architects lead the tour and presentation of the Pavilion and highlighted some of the milestones the building overcame to move closer to Living Building status. Squire described, in more detail, three of the seven imperatives of the Living Building Challenge that the architect focuses on: Water, Materials and Energy.

For example, as a part of the certification process, the Architect had to tabulate how much water the Pavilion used monthly. In the following video, Squire goes into detail about measuring the Pavilion’s water usage:

The biggest unknown in the Challenge was the Materials Petal, which required more than 500 hours of research, Squire said. As a result of this research, the architect now holds a database of materials that can be used on future Living Building projects. This materials matrix is downloadable and available to the public and those seeking to take on similar built projects.

Focusing on wood specifically, the Challenge requires all wood to be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, except if it is salvaged material. All the wood used in the Pavilion is salvaged Sinker Pine from Louisiana, and creates the structure that houses the herbarium, restrooms, kitchen and joining education pavilion, which acts as the central gathering room.

Inside the education pavilion, large rotating doors allow and discontinue wind flow throughout the space. As I stood in the room, I felt the 65-degree breeze come in when the doors were open, and the temperature rise slightly when they were closed.

“The main strategy for this room is that it really transforms from summer to winter,” Squire said. “Just by opening the doors and windows you can completely transform the space.”

With features such as solar panels and an east-to-west layout that promotes seasonal wind flow, the Pavilion fulfilled the Living Building Challenge™ requirement of generating all energy on site. Within the last year alone, the Pavilion generated 50 percent more energy than it used.

Toward the end of the tour, Squire pointed out one important note: “You can’t do a Living Building Challenge without the support of the owners,” he said.

Pavilion caretakers Tom Bookhout and his wife Melissa Bookhout adopted a life of sustainable farming and education, which Tom said has altered his outlook on life.

“It change my whole paradigm of thinking,” he said. “You have to think about how you’re living.”

All in all, I think the tour was incredibly educational and clearly demonstrated that Living Buildings are a possibility in Texas. I’m looking forward to when other Texas architects and designers create spaces that show they are willing and ready to step up to the Challenge.


Living Building Challenge 3.0 (pdf)

Lake | Flato: Josey Pavilion Brochure

The Dogrun: the Value of Transparency (blog post)

Outsiders Celebrate Revolutionary 'Bastille Day' in Bishop Arts District

A slight breeze alleviating the oppressive heat. Laughter and the sound of people humming songs from ‘Les Mis’. Wine glasses as far as the eye can see. Le Tricolore hanging from every ledge.  This is Bastille on Bishop, 2015.

Bastille Day, or La Fête nationale, is a celebration of the symbol of the French Revolution: the overthrowing of Bastille prison in medieval France. In Paris, this historic day is marked with the nation’s largest parade. In Dallas, we go to the Bishop Arts district to enjoy some of the wonderful aspects of French culture: namely food, wine, and le marché. Bastille on Bishop is located near where La Réunion (a colony founded on the ideals of French philosopher François Fourier) was settled, just a few miles away from our beloved Reunion Tower, now known as the Bishop Arts District.

As lovers of culture and social spaces, it’s no surprise that about half of our office attended the festival. When we finally found parking, we were led to the festival by men and women in full ‘French’ attire –Breton striped shirts, red berets, and neck scarves. The streets were filled with people enjoying the open-air market. In the middle of the block, crowds of people were watching teams playing petanque – a French game that involves tossing a boule (ball) as close to the conchonnet (a wooden ball inside a circle) as you can. 

Though the mood was fun and imaginative, we were brought back to reality as we saw the line of protesters down the main street: ironic for a festival that was celebrating the people’s victory over government. Their signs pleaded with the crowd to help the community preserve the culture of the spaces that we were all currently enjoying. With the rezoning of Oak Cliff on the horizon, and Dallas as a whole moving towards denser development regulations, people are stepping up to protect their neighborhoods. Festivals like Bastille on Bishop serve as a good reminder to those of us that call the city home – we must find a way to marry the preservation of culture and the benefits of smart development. Integrating the past, present, and future is a difficult task, but with communities as passionate as this, I have no doubt that we will get to enjoy the Bishop Arts we know and love for years to come. 

Photographs by Raylen Worthington (color) and Charlie Pruitt (b&w)