Pacific Northwest architecture firm Mahlum has made history with the certification of its new architecture studio as Portland’s first Living Building Challenge (LBC) project. As an LBC-certified workspace, Mahlum’s new studio meets rigorous sustainability targets including net-zero embodied carbon emissions and the diversion of almost all construction waste from the landfill. The project is the 48th LBC-certified project in the United States and 57th in the world. 

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streetview of a studio with a dark purple-hued facade with large windows

Located in a renovated 1930s structure that once served as a Custom Stamping facility, Mahlum’s newly minted 7,500-square-foot office in Portland meets the LBC guidelines for the Materials Petal, the Place, Equity and Beauty Petals, and the Health & Happiness Petal. As a result, workplace health and wellness have been emphasized alongside environmentally friendly design and construction. All products used were screened to comply with VOC emission restrictions. 

in the foreground, a white bookshelf with potted plants on top of it. in the background, people at desks with computers working

Local materials and labor were also key to the office’s design. Nearly all of the wood used was sourced from the state of Oregon and 100% of all the wood is either FSC-certified or salvaged. Working with partners such as Sustainable Northwest Wood and Salvage Works, the architects also used over a dozen unique salvaged products, including Douglas fir wood reclaimed from the nearby National Historic site of Fort Vancouver. Moreover, local artist Paige Wright was commissioned to create nature-inspired ceramic vessels used as planters in the office. Materials have also been vetted to ensure compliance with the Red List, which screens for “worst-in-class” chemicals and environmentally harmful materials.

Related: Glumac’s pioneering net-zero Shanghai office paves the way to greener buildings in China

a tall, avant-garde brown bookcase. in the background, two people sit at a table together

Mahlum will receive recognition for their LBC certification at the Living Future Conference, which will be digitally hosted in May 2020. The firm also plans to participate in Design Week Portland, currently expected to take place at the beginning of August, to welcome visitors as part of an Open House event. 

+ Mahlum

Images by Lincoln Barbour