Sustainable by Design: The Living Building Challenge & the Declare Label

TLA Spotlight Blog

Sustainable by Design: The Living Building Challenge & the Declare Label

Jun 13, 2023 | Products, Tech Corner

Sustainability-driven building certifications have overtaken the construction and lighting industries for the last decade.

You’ve likely heard of LEED, WELL, SITES, FitWell, Green Globes, CHPS, and the Living Building Challenge. These initiatives and programs push us to consider the implications of building, infrastructure, and community design so we can implement a more sustainable path as we move forward.

In this post, we’ll dig into the Living Building Challenge and how it relates to the Declare label in our industry.


Modern buildings with statement It's time to create a living future and a world of living buildings

The Living Building Challenge

Maintained by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), the Living Building Challenge is a visionary path to a regenerative future. It is a philosophy, certification, and advocacy tool for projects to move beyond merely being less bad and to become truly regenerative. Key to its mission is the fact that the LBC is an ever-evolving program shaped by experiences and feedback from diverse stakeholders.

Circular graphic showing Living Building Challenge evolution from priorities to feedback to LBC updates

The Challenge aims to transform how people think about every single act of design and construction and to see them as opportunities to create a positive ripple effect across society and culture. As one of the most rigorous of all building certification programs, The LBC requires net-zero energy, waste, and water in every project. The standard’s main goal is to provide symbiosis between people and the built environment by providing a detailed framework for the design and construction of buildings.

Projects that achieve Living Building certification can claim to be the greenest anywhere! And they serve as role models in their communities for redefining the future of the built environment.


Seven Performance Petals

The Living Building Challenge defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment today. The Standard is structured by 7 top-level performance categories or “petals”: Place, Water, Energy, Health + Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.

Inside each petal are “Imperatives” that can be applied to practically every conceivable building for both new and existing structures alike.

Check out the Handbook for a full explanation of Imperatives by the ILFI.


Living buildings challenge petals imperatives

The Materials Petal

So, what exactly is the Declare Label, and how do lighting products fall into this certification program?

The Declare Label lives within the Materials Petal for “building with products that are safe for all species through time.”

Building materials are responsible for many adverse environmental issues throughout their life cycle, including personal illness, habitat and species loss, pollution, and resource depletion. Imperatives in this petal aim to remove offending materials and practices and to drive businesses toward a responsible economy.


Declare®, the Institute’s ingredients label for building products, is a publicly accessible label and online database and is embedded within the Materials Petal.

Over the past decade, the Red List has transformed the building industry from where ingredients were held in secret to where transparency is becoming the new normal.

Think of it like reading the nutrition label on the back of a food product you’d buy at the grocery store. The Declare label provides transparency and documentation for projects and is a voluntary self-disclosure program.

Guide to reading Declare label

The label is designed to help specifiers quickly identify products that meet their project requirements. Declare labels disclose all intentionally added ingredients and residuals at or above 100ppm (0.01%) present in the final product by weight. Each ingredient must be reported with a chemical name, CAS number, and percentage or percentage range.

While this includes luminaires and lighting solutions, Declare-labeled products include a wide range of other building materials, including flooring, furniture, and paint.

Declaration status

A product’s compliance with the LBC Red List is represented on the Declare label by the product’s Declaration Status. There are three Declaration Statuses:

  • LBC RED LIST FREE products disclose 100% of ingredients present at or above 100 ppm (0.01%) in the final product and do not contain any Red List chemicals.
  • LBC RED LIST APPROVED products disclose a minimum of 99% of ingredients present in the final product and meet the LBC Red List Imperative requirements through one or more approved exceptions.
  • DECLARED products disclose 100% of ingredients present in the final product, but contain one or more Red List chemicals that are not covered by an approved exception.

Screenshot of Declare database website and TLA represented manufacturer products

Declare database

The Declare database is a free tool to help specifiers choose products they know they can trust and that meet their project goals.

All active Declare labels appear on the database, which is searchable based on product type, manufacturer, and certification requirement—and also includes contact information for the manufacturer.

Featured products

The Lighting Agency is proud to represent many manufacturers in this database with Declare-labeled products that are LBC Red List Free or LBC Red List Approved.

Take a look below and talk to your TLA Sales Rep about including these sustainable choices in your next commercial lighting project.


1. RBW – Crisp and Dimple Sconces

Declare label for RBW Crisp Dimple Ripple sconces and flush mounts

RBW’s Crisp, Dimple, and Ripple Sconces and flush mounts are LBC Red List Approved and stand out due to their decorative form and design simplicity—both aesthetically and technologically. They are also assembled in the United States in Brooklyn, New York.


RBW Dimple sconce


The best part: life expectancy is at least 25 years, and at the end of its life, 97% of these products can be recycled.

RBW Ripple Sconce


See details in the Declare database.

RBW crisp dimple sconces in modern bar setting


2. Vode – Adaptive Architectural Lighting Systems

Vode Adaptive Architectural lighting systems declare label


Vode is one of our most sustainability-driven manufacturers. Vode prioritizes sustainability for all its products. Vode products are completely recyclable at the end of their life.


Vode RMS Iverness lighting in modern building red list approved


The best part? Vode’s entire product offering is LBC Red List Approved. See details in the Declare database.


Vode Adaptive Lighting in library




3. Prudential – Pendant Aluminum Luminaires

Prudential Pendant Aluminum Luminaires Declare Label


Prudential has multiple products that are LBC Red List Approved. Most of their aluminum luminaires (pendant, surface, recessed and linear) are approved.



Even better, roughly 95% of the product can be recycled at the end of its life. See details in the Declare database.


prudential lighting in modern healthcare office building context

4. Focal Point – 9mm PET Felt (non-lit acoustics only)

Focal Point 9mm PET Felt Declare Label

Focal Point steals the show with its acoustical offerings. Their creativity with sound absorption has grown exponentially with form factors and incorporated lit elements into their felt materials.


TLA Declare Seem1 Acoustic Trio TieredSeating


All their felt materials are LBC Red List Free (a step up from LBC Red List Approved!) with a life expectancy of at least 30 years. And the cherry on top—the felt materials are 100% recyclable at the end of their life!

See details in the Declare database.

TLA Declare Prudential in Context


More popular products

This is just the beginning of a great list of products. The Lighting Agency has many more program-listed luminaires, including these popular commercial lighting products:

A-Light Lean (LBC Red List Approved), Stitch (LBC Red List Approved); Wings (LBC Red List Approved); Linear Product Category 5 (Declared)

Acuity Brands Lighting Specialty – 9mm Felt Panel (LBC Red List Free)

Healthcare Lighting Linear Product Category 1 (Declared)

Lithonia Lighting Linear Product Category 1 (Declared)

Peerless Lighting Linear Product Category 1 (Declared)

Prudential Linear Aluminum Luminaires (Declared); Steel Pendant/Recessed Luminaires (Declared); Linear Steel Luminaires (Declared)

Selux Arca Pro (LBC Red List Approved); Melli Direct – Diffuse (LBC Red List Approved)

Vode Ulo (LBC Red List Approved)

And the vast majority of Q-Tran products have Declare labels, with many Declared, Red List Free, and LBC Red List Approved statuses!

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