What happens when two architects, two research scientists, and an advocate for healthy buildings walk into a room? If their assignment is to influence the architecture, engineering, and construction (A/E/C) community to embrace the design of healthier buildings, they might pose these questions: If you knew that a building product you selected for your project caused cancer, you wouldn’t specify it, would you? If you knew that day-care furniture was exposing children to a vast array of toxic chemicals, you wouldn’t buy it, would you? If you knew that stain-retardant treatment was poisoning our water supply, would you still select white carpet and upholstery, which won’t stand up to use without that treatment?
In Episode #11 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia chats with Sam Batchelor of designLAB Architects and Jessica Schultz of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment to discuss the Hitchcock Center’s recent global recognition as the 23rd living building in the world and the 4th in Massachusetts. They detail how the Hitchcock Center achieved the certification and how they are both educating people on the importance of building sustainably.
By Erin Langner
“The Living Future Challenge was the first metric where I saw my culture reflected,” said designer and Arizona State University professor Wanda Dalla Costa during the Living Future unConference, a multi-industry gathering focused on sustainable design. This year’s iteration—the thirteenth—was hosted in Seattle from April 30–May 3.
By Scott Merzbach
Three years after the Hitchcock Center for the Environment opened a new learning center at 845 West St., at the edge of the Hampshire College campus, the building is demonstrating the possibilities of a resilient, self-sufficient building.With a third-party audit complete and 12 months of continuous operation showing the building is performing as designed, the Hitchcock Center’s headquarters became the 23rd building across the globe, most of which are in the United States, to earn a Certified Living Building Award from the International Living Future Institute.Presented May 2 to Executive Director Julie Johnson at the Living Future UnConference, an international sustainability conference in Seattle, the award means that the center has earned designation through the Living Building Challenge, considered the most rigorous standard for green buildings.
Amherst, MA, May 6 — Executive Director Julie Johnson of the Hitchcock Center has returned to Western Massachusetts from an international sustainability conference with a Living Certified Award that recognizes the Center’s visionary leadership in creating a building that gives more than it takes and inspires thousands of people to take action for a more sustainable future.
By Jessica Schultz
The modern environmental movement began with Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” about widespread contamination of land and water by DDT and other long-lasting pesticides. Developed in the 1940s, these chemicals went into wide use after World War II. But evidence mounted that they persisted in the environment and accumulated in animal and human tissue; as a result, DDT and most related pesticides have been phased out in the U.S. and elsewhere.However, another class of toxic compounds that were developed around the same time — perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS), with some of the same environmental and health concerns — continue to be used in a host of consumer products and building materials. They are now found in the bodies of virtually all humans and are considered to be ubiquitous throughout the web of life.When we think about what materials to incorporate into the construction of the places where we live and work, do we really want to use any product containing toxic, persistent chemicals?