Living Building Challenge in Georgia – The Mohawk Light Lab

A few office-mates and I had the recent pleasure of touring the Mohawk Light Lab in Dalton, Georgia.

This is the first Living Building Challenge petal-certified project in the state of Georgia, so needless to say, we were pumped!

First of all, if you aren’t familiar with the Living Building Challenge, it is a green building rating system start in Seattle  in 2006 and is a rigorous green building rating system administered by the International Living Future Institute.  The rating system is a sort of reaction to LEED that promotes buildings that are regenerative and actually give back to their surroundings.

More info on the LBC can be found here.

We made our way to Dalton from Atlanta for the afternoon with our great local rep, Teri, who described the Lab to us along the way as a sort of ‘treehouse.’  And she was right – it is a building set off a main road amongst the trees and a steep climb to the top – and the result is a 360 degree view overlooking the trees, the city, and the North Georgia mountains in the distance.  It’s beautiful.

One’s initial feeling upon entering the space is that it is fresh.  This is partially the design, and partially the main petal certification they went for, which is Materials.  According to the Living Future Institute website, “The intent of the Materials Petal is to help create a materials economy that is non-toxic, ecologically restorative, transparent, and socially equitable. ”  This aligns with Mohawk’s commitment to sustainability in their products, exemplified through their many products with Declare labels.

Declare is a product certification program that is all about transparency.  Just as food products require ingredient lists, the products we surround ourselves with in the built environment should be transparent about what they contain – then it is the consumer’s choice what they’re willing to use and pay for.  Declare is also a program under the International Living Future Institute; more information can be found here.


Deciphering Declare Labels: What to Look For and What to Ask


We continued on our tour, which included so many little gems, such as the old-fashioned loom that is reminiscent of old carpet mills; the light fixtures in the break room that were designed by a middle school student and manufactured with recycled plastic bottles, reused light fixtures used in a new way, and reclaimed wood use as decorative pieces from one of their old factories.  Not to mention we got a sneak peak at some cool new carpet patterns.

It’s encouraging to know that because of individuals’ passion and corporations’ commitment to sustainability and healthy living, we now have a petal-certified building in the Southeast U.S.  The exciting part is it’s the first, but won’t be the last – Georgia Tech is slated to have a Living Building – see their website for much more info.

Check out my photos below from the Light Lab!


More info:

Mohawk Light Lab website