Educating for a Healthy Material World

The Living Building Challenge™ is comprised of seven performance categories, or ‘Petals’: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Petals are subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence. The Center’s Educating to a Healthy Material World Program will offer programs and resources to address the Materials Petal.

This project is brought to you by a grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute.

The intent of the Materials Petal is to help promote a materials economy that is non-toxic and ecologically regenerative. Throughout their life cycle, building materials are responsible for many adverse environmental issues, including personal illness, habitat and species loss, pollution, and resource depletion. The Hitchcock Center’s new living building has eliminated the use of many of the worst-in-class ingredients most commonly used in the building industry. These ingredients have been identified through the Red List published by the International Living Future Institute, the organization that administers the Living Building Challenge™.

It was not easy to identify and source the nontoxic materials needed to meet the rigorous Materials performance standard for our building. Leading-edge technical knowledge, an integrated design approach, and a design and construction team that was well versed in advanced practices related to green building were required, in addition to other members of Living Building Challenge design-build teams within western Massachusetts, now considered a regional “hot spot” for living buildings in our country.

You can Understand More About the Red List and view a brochure about Our Living Building.

Our Living Building Tour Program

Public Building Tours

We have had industry professionals from every state in New England, New York, and Georgia tour our building. Students from all local colleges, many elementary schools, and members of the community have come to visit. International visitors from China, Colombia, Israel, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Peru, Phillipines, Spain, Uruguay have all learned from our project.

First Fridays at 4pm: August 4, September 1, October 6, November 3, December 1
Third Wednesdays at 12pm: July 19, August 16
FREE but please register online
Come meet our newest educator – our building! It is designed to model systems in nature, it is net zero energy, net zero water, has composting toilets, and has been made with responsibly sourced non-toxic materials, come check it out at one of our bi-monthly tours. Tours typically last from 1-1.5 hours.

Private Building Tours
The Hitchcock Center offers private group building tours, based on availability. The fee for these tours is $50/group. Please limit group size to 15-20 for the best experience. Please contact Jessica Schultz, Living Building Coordinator, to arrange your group’s tour. Tours typically last from 1-1.5 hours.

Note: We are pleased to be able to offer Spanish language translators for our building tours. If you or someone you know could benefit from translation, please let us know in advance, so that we may schedule a translator for your tour date.

Building Without Toxins: Educating for a Healthy Material World

Friday, June 16, 2017, 1-4pm
FREE but registration encouraged
Download event flyer

Join materials, toxics, and living building experts for a conversation on toxins in the built environment and how making toxic-free choices in materials is possible. The afternoon will include panelist perspectives, a tour of specific materials features of the Hitchcock Center’s new Living Building, and time for questions and discussion with the panelists. This program was developed under a grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell. 

Featured panelists:

Jennifer Atlee, Sustainable Materials Consultant, PROSOCO & Principal at Atlee Research

For over a decade, Jennifer has focused on improving the capacity of the green building industry to evaluate and improve the sustainability of building products. Jennifer brings a multifaceted perspective to this work as manufacturer, journalist, researcher, standard developer, and consultant. She has worked for companies such as Toxics Use Reduction Institute, BuildingGreen, HPD Collaborative, and is currently the Sustainable Materials Consultant for PROSOCO. Jennifer has a dual M.S. from MIT in Material Science & Engineering and Technology Policy, and is most energized by working with others to make systems changes so our everyday choices consistently lead to a just and thriving world.

Julie Johnson, Executive Director, Hitchcock Center

Julie is the Executive Director of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment where she has been working to strengthen environmental education programming and literacy for the past 16 years. In her daily work, she helps the Hitchcock Center stay at the forefront of environmental education leadership through strategic planning, partnership development, and team management with the Center’s Board of Directors and staff of 13. Recently she has been focused on one of the most ambitious projects of the Center’s history, launching the first public ‘living’ environmental learning center in New England. Through the Living Building Challenge™. Prior to joining the Hitchcock Center, Julie worked for the City of Santa Monica, California to develop, fund and sustain human service programs by cultivating and building off of the unique assets and strengths of neighborhoods, community organizations and public institutions. She lives in Amherst with her partner Jim and loves birding, sailing, cross-country skiing, hiking, cooking, gardening, and walking her dog.

Kath McCusker, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Sustainability Manager, Integrated Eco-Strategy

Kath is a Sustainability Analyst with Integrated Eco Strategy currently focusing on healthy building materials. Kath has extensive experience with the Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification framework, having worked closely with Williams College to certify its first LBC building. She has coordinated with both manufacturers and designers to specify products that meet the requirements of LBC’s Red List imperative. Kath has been involved with the development of Integrated Eco Strategy’s proprietary materials library and vetting tool, Red2Green, from the beginning and currently oversees our own team of vetting specialists who actively using and improving this program. Kath has a MS in Green Building from UMass Amherst. Prior to jumping into the green building world, Kath worked as a Museum Exhibition Designer.

Emily Monosson, Toxicologist and Author, UMass Amherst

Emily Monosson is an environmental toxicologist and writer. She is an independent scholar at the Ronin Institute and an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her most recent book is Natural Defense: Enlisting bugs and germs to protect our food and health.

Andrew Solem, Living Building Challenge Materials ConsultantWright Builders

Andrew John Solem, known by most as Sol, graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013 with a degree in Building and Construction Technology while being heavily involved with the UMass Amherst Drumline as well. Andrew moved to the Greater Cincinnati area to work for a small home construction company after graduating. In 2015 he moved back home when a position opened to work on the Kern Center, Wright Builders’ first Living Building Challenge project. Starting as a laborer and field assistant, he was quickly promoted and tasked to vet products and materials for both the Kern Center and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. Residing in Amherst, MA he is still deeply involved with the UMass Amherst Drumline, donating his time to help teach the drumline during both fall and spring semesters.

Jonathan Wright, PrincipalWright Builders

Jonathan A. Wright, a graduate of Hampshire College from its founding years, is currently Founder and Co-Principal of Wright Builders, Inc., a 44 year-old firm of approximately 30 employees, at the forefront of sustainable design and construction in Western New England. The firm is known for its progressive community involvement and forward looking organizational and management approaches. Wright Builders has had a key role in the redevelopment of the Northampton State Hospital property, known as Village Hill, where its work comprises the only fully LEED certified neighborhood in Massachusetts. The firm recently complete two projects that aspire to the Living Building Challenge, the most demanding and inspired paradigm for environmentally responsible construction in the world. Jonathan is a US Rowing certified sculling coach. His first book of poetry, After the Rain, was published in 2014 by Gallery Of Readers Press. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife, pianist and teacher Margaret Kelsey Wright. They have three grown children.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment