By Jenna Lippin
➤ continued on page 44
Jason F. McLennan is the visionary the industry
needs to reach ongoing sustainability goals.
Jason F. McLennan, partner and CEO of McLennan Design and founder of the International Living Future Institute, has been dubbed a “troublemaker”—but in the best way possible. His work uncovered the importance of sustainability before it was a buzzword and bona fide movement in the design industry.
“I’ve really tried to shine a light on things that need to change and change makes people
uncomfortable,” he said. “I’ve always been willing to put myself out there and risk criticism or
pushback in order to try to get the right outcomes.”
Starting his career as an architect, McLennan said he was focused on sustainability from
the start of his path, focusing on its importance “before it was cool.”
He continued, “I’ve always had a passion for the environment, good design, and trying
to show that we can create a better world for designs of buildings, products, and systems
that are beautiful and elegant. Sustainability was not a very big movement in architecture and
not taken very seriously by most in the industry. There was very little definition around what
‘green design’ even meant. Through the late ‘90s and into the early 2000s we saw the rise of
green building programs.”
With the advent of LEED and as other sustainability programs came up worldwide,
people began to take the movement seriously, McLennan said, “and we got more rigor. It
went from something that was just a sideshow to something more clearly defined and with
a better sense of direction.”
With that, McLennan founded the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), leaving his
architecture job and working to challenge the building industry “to go further faster.” With
McLennan, ILFI has created programs such as the Living Building Challenge, Living Product
Challenge, and Declare labels to help ensure the places where we live and work and the
products we use are safe and lending to a healthier world around us.
“I realized that the industry needed tools it didn’t have that would help focus its energy on
the right direction for sustainability and design,” he explained. “Because of that, I created the
Jason F. McLennan of the International Living
Future Institute and McLennan Design.