By Ahmed Abusharkh
The oceans are rising, the animals are dying, and the Earth is heating up. Young people know it. Adults know it. The politicians and millionaires refusing to address the issues know it. The question is, “Who’s going to do anything about it?” Seemingly, our hope rests on the shoulders of young people and the future generation of green leaders. They have the biggest stake in the game, given that they have to deal with whatever environmental catastrophes that are handed down to them for the longest. Even though it might not be their fault, even though they didn’t build the system that pumps out millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, they’re going to have to figure this out if we want a chance at a cleaner Earth in the future. Luckily, the two Living Building Challenge sites at Hampshire College are helping sculpt the next generation of young environmental leaders who can do something about it.
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?
By Greta Jochem
In 2016, two “living buildings”— self-sufficient buildings that create more energy than they use and that collect their own water — were constructed in Amherst. Hampshire College’s R.W. Kern Center and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment are among the first buildings in the world to achieve the “living building” certification. But part of what makes a building seem full of life is the people behind it — and that’s the focus of a new book by Jonathan Wright, a 1974 Hampshire College graduate and senior adviser of Northampton-based Wright Builders, the contractor who constructed the buildings.
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.
By Nadine M. Post
Currently, there are 420 registered projects under ILFI’s four main programs: zero carbon; zero energy; the Petal program; and the top-tier Living Building program, which includes all seven petals, or subcategories. Of these, there are only 112 certified projects and only 23 certified Living Buildings. Certification requires a year of post-occupancy performance data.
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.