The Living Future Conference’s Journey from Humble Beginnings to Critical Hub for the Regenerative Movement

In 2007, a pivotal moment marked the inception of a transformative journey with the launch of the Living Future unConference. With a modest assembly of around 100 attendees, this event illuminated a path for those fervently committed to green building and design. It served as a rallying point for practitioners, students, and architects, united under a shared cause: Moving beyond incremental improvement in sustainable design to boldly ask “What does good look like?” and pushing the industry towards net positive performance.

Fast forward to our 18th year, and the Living Future Conference now proudly stands as the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) flagship event. It has metamorphosed into the preeminent gathering for regenerative design professionals, positioned at the forefront of climate action, health, and equity in the built environment. Attendees are drawn not only for the cutting-edge technical expertise embedded in the sessions but, more significantly, for the lifelong connections forged—a catalyst for transformative change in the built world.

Inspiring Voices, Bold Visions

Year after year, the Living Future Conference becomes a magnet for global leaders and visionary voices emerging from the environmental and justice movements. Past conferences have featured luminaries such as Paul Hawken, Pliny Fisk, Majora Carter, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, and Janine Benyus. These leaders have brought forth the critical questions, ethos, vision, and calls to action for the holistic vision of a LIving Future that encompasses climate, health, and equity for all.

The Urgency of Our Mission and Movement

We are acutely aware of the threats posed by the continued warming of our planet and the rapid degradation of our natural environment due to fossil fuel consumption. Now, more than ever, the Living Future Conference is not just relevant but essential. Fortunately, our fundamental belief remains unshaken: we hold the solution. Our goals remain as they always have been — to provide a platform for learning from this community, forging deep connections, and catalyzing bold, visionary transformations in the built environment.

The Living Future Community is unlike any other. It comprises practitioners, nonprofits, educators, developers, manufacturers, builders, architects, sustainability professionals, artists, and individuals from diverse industries. All are united by a common purpose: a deep commitment to sustainable practices and a shared vision of creating transformative and scalable impact. The Living Future Community has made excellent progress on adopting regenerative practices as seen in the increase of both registered and certified projects within Living Future building programs. We have witnessed exciting growth in materials transparency labeling through the Declare program as well as a growth in Just organizations as well. This community comes together not only for the much needed inspiration, but to take the critical action needed now.

Now drawing ~1000 attendees per year representing over 300 leading and emerging change making organizations in the regenerative movement, one fundamental theme is apparent year over year: 

Convening together to celebrate the advances in the movement and gaining new connections, inspirations, and insights to face the challenges of tomorrow is critical to sustaining and scaling the impact of the regenerative movement.

Written By

Erin Rovalo PhD

As Vice President of ILFI's Community Team, Erin Rovalo leads the team in their mission to empower an international and diverse community of practice with the skills, values, and knowledge necessary to take bold action towards a living future. Erin has 15 years of experience in sustainable innovation consulting and adult education and is a recognized expert in biomimicry and nature inspired design methods. She is an experienced scholar and researcher holding a PhD in Design Practice and has published academic research as well as editorial articles in Fast Company, Greenbiz, and Metropolis among others. Her goal is to leverage ILFI’s education platform to connect research to practice and accelerate positive, data-driven change at the frontier of regenerative design. In addition to her role at ILFI, Erin is Faculty Associate in the MSc Biomimicry program jointly offered by Arizona State University and Biomimicry 3.8 where she teaches Biomimicry & Design and iSites: Nature Journaling for Biomimicry. She serves on the Board of Directors for The Biomimicry Institute whose mission is to empower people to create nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. Erin lives in Roseville, CA and is an aspiring encaustic artist.