Cal Guerxo is a home secreted away in a small village in the Spanish Pyrenees, three hours from Barcelona. This ambitious renovation project transformed a medieval residence into a home fit for the future. The project obtained LEED Platinum Certification in 2020 and received the 2021 LEED Homes award for outstanding single-family project. Today, the project has another reason to celebrate: it is the first building in Europe to receive Living Building Challenge Certification.

The Living Building Challenge™ is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard calling for the creation of building projects that operate as cleanly, beautifully, and efficiently as nature’s architecture. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a total of twenty prerequisites such as relying solely on renewable forms of energy, capturing, and treating all water, using building materials void of hazardous chemicals and connect with light, air, food, nature, and community, to name a couple. The overarching goal is to provide a framework for how we design and build in a way that allows us to inhabit places in harmony with all living beings. The Living Building Challenge is ambitious, but it is the level of ambition that we need if we are to transform humanity’s relationship with nature.

When Emmanuel Pauwels and his team at Green Living Projects decided to use Living Building Challenge as their guidance, they knew it was ambitious, but they wanted to find out first hand if the vision laid out by the International Living Future Institute was doable.

Now that the project achieved Certification, they realize that the beauty is in the pursuit of potential, not in the solving of problems. Being involved in the project led to the discovery of a radically different mind-set and delivery process required for the design and building of projects that are fit for a world that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative.