Global Design Competition to Bring Living Buildings to Aleutian Islands Print
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 06:54

Cascadia Green Building Council and the Aleutian Housing Authority invite global interdisciplinary teams to design – and build -- an affordable, single-family home in one of the world’s most challenging environments.

Cascadia Green Building Council and the Aleutian Housing Authority seek interdisciplinary teams to design a single-family dwelling unit capable of meeting the imperatives set by the Living Building Challenge 2.0 ™, the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard.

The Living Aleutian Home Design Competition aims to inspire teams to bring the tenets and principles of the Living Building Challenge to Atka, an Aleutian Island community with a population of 61 people. This contest raises the bar for innovation, challenging teams to create a prototype for affordable, sustainable residences in a rural community confronted with sky-high construction costs, an extreme climate and a pressing need for adopting alternative fuel strategies.

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“This competition is designed to demonstrate that we have what we need to thrive in partnership with the ecosystems we inhabit, whether we live in dense cites or remote communities,” says Cascadia CEO Jason F. McLennan. “In the five years since the Living Building Challenge was issued, project teams have proven that buildings can benefit their environments. Our new partnership with the Aleutian Housing Authority will push the green building community even further, daring designers to rethink everything about how buildings are designed, how materials are sourced and how people interact with the built environment.”

Since its creation in 1977, The Aleutian Housing Authority has developed nearly 400 housing units and continues to own, manage and operate 258 of them. The AHA has pledged to reduce energy consumption by 85 percent over the next 10 years and is eager to discover whether energy-efficient, environmentally sound homes can be developed affordably in its community.

“We believe that innovative and unique approaches can significantly reduce the project’s ecological footprint and also save money in first costs. This dual goal is at the heart of the competition,” says Dan Duame, AHA Executive Director. “We hope this contest helps launch a much-needed transformation of how the Aleutian Island built environment is created, inhabited and maintained.”

The Aleutian and Prilibof Islands region of Alaska covers roughly 100,000 square miles, extending westward from the southwest corner of the Alaska mainland. This area of Alaska is often called the “birthplace of the winds,” a 1,050-mile archipelago that is a treeless, windswept land of steep, high volcanoes, flower-strewn, moss-covered meadows and long, wide beaches. The islands are home to walruses, harbor seals, sea lions, sea otter, fur seals and to millions of seabirds using the rugged cliffs and slopes for nesting.

For thousands of years, the Aleutian people lived a subsistence lifestyle of hunting and fishing along the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean, transitioning in the 20th Century to jobs in commercial fishing, small business, tribal/corporation management, health care, education and transportation. Roughly 7,000 people call this place, considered one of the most remote areas in the United States, home. Sixty-one people take up residence in Atka, the contest epicenter.

All entries must be based explicitly on the tenets of the Living Building Challenge 2.0, and the AHA should be able to replicate the design, with reasonable modifications for site variability in other Aleutian communities. Entry fees range from $100 per entry for professional teams and $50 per entry for individuals outside of a firm and $25 per student. For more information on the contest specifications and guidelines please visit,

Founded in 1999, Cascadia is a proud chapter of both the US and Canada Green Building Councils and serves the green building community in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. Cascadia promotes LEED and the Living Building Challenge through a comprehensive program of education, outreach, advocacy and research. A network of fourteen branches located in each of the region’s population centers ensures that Cascadia’s programming is targeted and locally relevant. Cascadia is a program of the International Living Future Institute, which is also home to the Living Building Challenge, The Natural Step Network, USA and Ecotone publishing. Please visit

The Aleutian Housing Authority is the Tribally Designated Housing Entity for 12 federally recognized tribes in 10 communities in the Aleutian and Pribilof region. Since inception in July 1977, the housing authority has successfully developed 304 single-family homes, 65 low-rent units, and 17 fair market rentals. AHA continues to own, manage and operate 258 housing units throughout the region. For more information, visit

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