"The Living Building Challenge"

Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Jennifer Machiorlatti

Second Advisor

Harold Glasser

Third Advisor

Steve Lipkin


My Honors Thesis project is an advocacy documentary titled, The Living Building Challenge. The documentary is an educational introduction about the Living Building Challenge, and the vigorous requirements to achieve the fully sustainable green building certification. The video promotes the possibilities 'the challenge' holds for the future of Western Michigan University's campus and raises awareness about the opportunities with the South West Michigan Collaborative to make it happen. This project is a collaboration between the School of Communication, Haworth College of Business, and Environmental Studies. I collaborated with Giovanni Roberto, a business management major and Lee Honors College student on this project. Giovanni's thesis project was to create and present a marketing plan focused on implementing the Living Building Challenge to Western Michigan University and the surrounding community. The thesis video, an integral component of bringing awareness to The Challenge, was an advocacy documentary about the Living Building Challenge intended to inform, raise awareness about 'the challenge', increase interest and involvement, and to make a difference in green standards at WMU. The target audiences for the video are mainly the students, the Southwest Michigan community as a whole, faculty, staff, and administrators.

An advocacy documentary is defined as a form of documentary filmmaking that uses supporting images for persuasion in an argument, protest, or an idea that one wants to implement. Put simply advocacy documentary uses the most effective communication to advocate something: an issue, belief, or behavior change. Therefore this documentary uses images, interviews, graphics, quotes, and music to evoke emotion, and 'paint the story' for the viewer. To implement this advocacy theory, I interviewed individuals from the Tyson Research Center, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on their success stories. These buildings are all certified (Living buildings.' The video also includes interviews with Western Michigan University students who support the challenge on campus, and are involved with similar education and advocacy projects. The Thesis Defense included the premiere of the documentary. Additionally during my Honors Thesis Defense, I thoroughly explained the visual media production process I went through to complete the documentary, and everything I learned from the experience. Public distribution plans for the documentary include webcasts on social media sites and campus screenings. It will also be included in presentations by the South West Michigan Collaborative, an organization established to inform, educate and promote the construction of Living Buildings.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Journal.pdf (1379 kB)

Production Notes.pdf (3178 kB)
Production Notes

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Cover.JPG (4196 kB)

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