Each year, the Living Future Conference serves as a dynamic hub where key leaders, change-makers, and advocates in the regenerative movement converge. Beyond celebrating achievements, the conference becomes a forward-looking platform, anticipating future challenges. It’s a space where we not only share critical questions, new insights, and innovative tools but also engage in collaborative learning that empowers us to take impactful action from the very next Monday morning. The collective discourse fostered at the Living Future Conference serves as a wellspring of inspiration and compels us throughout the year as we continue tackling the big challenges we face at the intersection of climate, health, and equity. 

The key collective questions we are asking at LF24 are:

How are we revolutionizing climate action?

How do we design and manufacture at the nexus of human and ecological health?

What are the key issues to illuminate for designing an equitable future?

In the spirit of continuous innovation, this year’s conference introduces a new element to further elevate our critical collective discourse in the regenerative movement: FutureFlow. FutureFlow injects a burst of dynamism into the mainstage by featuring inspiring leaders in a concise presentation format that centers on delivering key messages on climate, health, and equity through compelling storytelling. As we anticipate the upcoming Living Future Conference in Atlanta in May 2024, here’s a glimpse of what we eagerly look forward to experiencing together.

Biogenic Materials x Generative Justice

Mae-ling Lokko
Yale University

From plant fibers to peat, cellulose to lignin, fungi to carbon-neutral concrete– the use of a broad renewable material ecology from the field is becoming the feedstock of the 21st century materials revolution. On one hand, the design of renewable material streams are framed within today’s carbon framework as ‘substitutes’ within a hydrocarbon material economy and on the other, such materials are proposed in direct resistance to these very systems, as ‘alternatives’ to such ‘development’. Using case study biogenic materials, this talk aims to evaluate the pitfalls of historical and contemporary transformation of biogenic building materials using a “generative justice” framework.

Designing for Disability Differently

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established 32 years ago, thinking in the disability world has evolved. Disability is seen as natural – not merely a problem to fix, but part of the human experience, seeking greater visibility and inclusiveness. The Core Imperative 17 – Universal Access in the LBC 4.0 Standard requires buildings to only meet ADA and/or other accessibility codes. The session, targeted to architects and designers, advocates the need for the LBC to incentivize design thinking and provisions that go much beyond merely meeting accessibility codes, and are integral to the design process, from inception.

Ganesh Nayak
Metier Consulting, Inc

Accelerating Low-Carbon Procurement

Josh Jacobs
WAP Sustainability

How do you make sure that low-carbon material procurement becomes a priority…you write it into laws and spend money. Buy Clean laws and the Inflation Reduction Act were historic in many respects, but they have electrified the low carbon procurement conversation to another level even beyond the pace that it was progressing. Writing something into law is simply the first step though…what happened after the laws were written and how does the low carbon procurement work going forward.

How Biophilic-Driven Development Shifts Community Wellness

How has Serenbe’s founding pillar, biophilic-driven development, impacted the community’s overall wellness from childhood to later in life stages? Given the current climate of the economy, political affairs, the actual climate crisis, stress is at an all-time high & mental health is at an all-time low. Session attendees learn how biophilic-wellness communities, like Serenbe, are affecting their residents’ overall wellbeing. Steve takes attendees through Serenbe’s Biophilic principles – personal well being, community engagement, national security, and global balance, & showcase how this intentionally designed community & a biophilic approach boosts mental & physical wellness.

Steve Nygren

Is Climate Action a Human Perception Problem?

Upali Nanda
HKS Architects

Let’s start here- I am not a sustainability professional. I am, however, a student of human perception and believe our challenges are foundational because of the way humans think, feel and act. I am often exhausted by how hard it can be to corral around the critical issues of our time. I argue that three things are at play: 1) Ability to truly understand climate change- psychologists have explained why building empathy for the planet can be hard. 2) Ability to build trust with people who may have divergent view points, and 3) Disciplinary arrogance which results in exclusive language and polarization. This session will unpack these issues anchored on the art and science of being human.

Impact Beyond the Property Line

The green and healthy building industry suffers from a last mile problem. Regulations, financing, and best practice toolkits all orient our efforts firmly within the property line. Meanwhile, we know that all of our actions contribute to larger systems – such as the urban heat island, the flood plain, regional air pollution, transportation options, economic opportunities, and structures that perpetuate historic segregation and redlining. This FutureFlow talk will demonstrate how you can use co-benefit design to bridge that gap. When you reorient your practice outside of the property line, new possibilities open up for making tangible contributions to neighborhood climate, health, and equity.

Adele Houghton
Biositu, LLC

Unlocking Abundance with Methods to Discuss a Regenerative Future

James Kitchin
MASS Design Group

The world we live in has been fabricated on a zero-sum economic system centered around fossil fuels that prioritizes never-ending growth over the health of people and the planet. We have been made to believe that we never have enough and that we need to consume more, a scarcity mindset, when, in reality, we’re surrounded by abundance. This session is for thought leaders that want to demonstrate how the future we’re creating together, through our practices and built environment, is more abundant than the one we’re leaving behind.

Your Voice & Our Common Future

This community is designing the future. How we communicate about what we do (making places, policy, and organizations) and what we are working towards(a common living future) is as important as the work itself. It is our role to help people see, understand, engage in, and value this work in ways that invites them to join as fellow advocates. Without cohesive communication, we will not have opportunities to manifest the results of our vision. But conveying information can be fraught: contemporary communications ecosystems are noisy and fragmented, hyperbole and signaling are rampant, and many actors are stoking chaos and confusion. Kira will share key concepts about communication that can help those working towards a living future be clear, be heard, and be powerful. This includes defining terms and articulating value authentically for multiple stakeholders.

Kira Gould
Kira Gould CONNECT

As we look ahead to this journey of FutureFlow talks, our anticipation is fueled by the knowledge that these sessions will not only inform but inspire action. The Living Future Conference, through initiatives like FutureFlow, remains a testament to the power of collective discourse and collaboration. It is a space where questions become catalysts for change, and ideas transform into actions that shape a regenerative future for all. Together, let us continue to evolve, learn, and create a world where Living Buildings and regenerative development redefine the very fabric of our built environment. Change starts here, and the journey is bound to be transformative.

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.