The Living Building Challenge
The Hitchcock Center is proud to undertake the Living Building Challenge™ (LBC), holistic standards incorporating the most progressive thinking from architecture, engineering, planning, interiors, landscape design and policy. Created in 2006 by Jason McClellan, founder and CEO of the International Living Future Institute, LBC certification is often compared to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, but it is much more rigorous; some have dubbed it “LEED on steroids”.
We are deeply committed to the philosophy and framework of the Challenge as an amplification of our mission. The process transforms how we think about design and construction as an opportunity to benefit both the environment and community life. Our new building and the program expansion it allows increases awareness of how the world functions as a physical system and exemplify ways each of us can steward our natural environment and slow its degradation.
To achieve full Living Building Certification, our design team, the town of Amherst, the contractors, board, staff and supporters of our programs needed to work together to meet specific conditions. The Hitchcock Center’s building will be evaluated in seven LBC performance categories and must meet the following conditions:
- Be built on previously untouched lands, preferably ones that remediate contaminated land. Hitchcock’s project has remediated an arsenic-contaminated site resulting from historical pesticide use on an apple orchard.
- Create an equal exchange of land to be developed and land placed in permanent conservation restriction.
- Supply 100% of the project’s energy needs through on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis, without the use of on-site combustion.
- Supply 100% of the project’s water needs through recaptured precipitation or other natural closed-loop water systems that must be purified as needed without the use of chemicals.
- Avoid using materials on a “Red List” of environmentally unsound products. The Red List represents the worst-in-class materials, chemicals, and elements known to pose serious risks to human health and the greater ecosystem. The ultimate goal is phase these materials out of production.
- Reduce or eliminate the waste production during design, construction, operation, and end of life in order to conserve natural resources and find ways to integrate waste back into either an industrial loop or natural nutrient loop.
- Take into account indoor air quality and other workplace environment issues in plans.
- Have operable windows that provide access to fresh air and daylight for every occupied space.
- Source materials locally to contribute to the expansion of the regional economy and adhere to standards for sustainable resource extraction.
- Account for the total footprint of embodied carbon—from construction to completion—through a one-time carbon offset.
- Promote walkable, pedestrian-oriented communities.
- Be designed to include elements that nurture the innate human-nature connection through biophilic design
- Foster a true, inclusive sense of community that is just and equitable regardless of an individual’s background, age, class, race, gender or sexual orientation.
- Share what is learned, show how the living building operates, and motivate others to make change.