Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge Studio Classroom is the first free-standing
studio on our campus.

Green building and an environmental education program are key components to the success of The Monarch School. The Studio Classroom is the first project in Texas built to meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). To date, there are only five certified Living Buildings in the entire world. 

Phase I, of the Living Building Studio Classroom’s 1,120 square foot free-standing multi-purpose classroom is now complete. This Studio Classroom has been built to the rigorously challenging LBC standards and the studio will serve as an outdoor living classroom in which the student’s day-to-day interactive decision making will help the building achieve net zero energy and water performance.

We took on this formidable project because we believe in sustainability and we are passionate about demonstrating what even a small nonprofit organization can do.

The Living Building Challenge is a philosophy, advocacy tool and certification program that promotes the most advanced measurement of sustainability in the built environment possible today.

LBC sets a new vision for what defines a truly ecologically responsible, healthy (non-toxic) and inspiring building environment capable of leading us into the future.

Ultimately, the project will showcase three viable renewable energy sources —solar energy, wind power and geothermal energy, as well as incorporate active water harvesting.

Finally, students will play a primary role in monthly monitoring of the school’s environmental efforts including —water harvesting, irrigation, water conservation, electrical consumption and the wind turbine. As we plan for the future, student’s outdoor activities and curriculum will include planning and sustaining an orchard, pond and gardens. The students will have the responsibility to share and teach about our conservation and sustainability efforts with others. When complete the studio will serve as an outdoor living classroom in which the student’s day-to-day interactive decision making will help the building achieve net zero energy performance.

This is an incredibly exciting and worthwhile project! If you would like to be involved as a volunteer or a supporter, please contact Debrah Hall at or Shelly Pottorf at

Thanks to members of the community that helped through the Kickstarter Campaign. Through the campaign, members of the community learned more about the project and made specific monetary contributions that will help toward the completion of the project.  Website donors made monetary donations for: solar panels to meet the net zero energy requirements; seeds, soil and compost for vegetables, fruits, and herbs gardens--to meet the urban agriculture requirement. Also,dedicate a fruit tree or acquire naming right to an 8,000 square foot fruit tree orchard adjacent to the studio to help meet the Living Building Challenge urban agriculture requirement; naming rights for one of the two above ground or the one below ground rainwater harvesting cisterns -- to meet the urban agriculture requirement for net zero water requirements. Also, naming rights for the living rooftop herb garden to meet the LBC urban agriculture requirement; as well as naming rights for the vegetable terraces -- a 2,000 square foot garden on the south slope of the hill that the studio is built into. This will serve as host to community outreach programs and classes and help meet the Living Building Challenge urban agriculture requirement.

click here for more info

Living Building Challenge comprises seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. These are subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence. Certification is based on actual, rather than modeled or anticipated, performance. Therefore, projects must be operational for at least twelve consecutive months prior to evaluation. To earn 'Living' status (full program certification), projects must meet all assigned Imperatives and have proven performance through at least twelve consecutive months of operation.

Leading us in this endeavor are Shelly Pottorf, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, and Shannon Bryant, principals of Architend, as well as Amanda Tullos, AIA, LEED AP, principal of GreenNexus Consulting. A committed group of volunteers helped shape the concepts we will use in our studio, including:

Design-Build Team donating professional services:
Asakura Robinson Landscape Architects
Bob Johnson & Associates, rainwater harvesting
Brewer & Escalante Civil Engineers
Dr. Bob Randall, Permaculture Design
GreeNexus Consulting, Amanda Tullos, Living Building Challenge Consultants
Integrated Design Lab, University of Washington: daylighting analysis
Jackson & Ryan Architects
Lisa Rosenow, Integrated Design Consultant
Matrix Structural Engineers
Mission Constructors
Redding, Linden, Burr, MEP Engineers
Tend Building
Trinity Commissioning, LLC, Commissioning
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., Envelope Commissioning

We are grateful for these product donations:
Digital Air Controls
Empire Truss
HTS Texas
Lesco Lighting
RAM Windows
Trox USA, Inc
Variable Energy Systems
W.M. Dillard and Associates
Water Furnace

Thanks to these individuals and corporations for monetary donations:
Amanda Tullos-GreeNexus
Chris Conner-Green C Services
David Batts- Construction EcoServices
David Ronn
GreenZip Tape Partition System
Leonard Golub
Margaret Robinson-Asakura Robinson
Redding, Linden, Burr
Sheila Blake
Spindletop Charities, Inc.

Recycle Bank & CocaCola