AMHERST, Mass. — The Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst debuted its new 9,000-square-foot facility in fall 2016. Even though the environmental education center is built on the Hampshire College campus, the independent, nonprofit is completely separate, with a mission to develop environmental curriculums that are then implemented in schools throughout New England. Now, that mission is coming to life with its brand-new sustainable facility that doubles as an engaging learning tool for the center’s field trip, after-school and preschool programs, among others. Better yet, it’s currently seeking Living Building Challenge certification.
By Scott Merzbach
AMHERST — Backers of the bylaw adopted at Town Meeting last fall mandating that all new municipal buildings produce as much energy as they use are continuing to bring experts in zero-energy design and construction to town.
By Maureen Turner for Going Green
Hitchcock Center serves as a powerful teaching tool for the rest of us.
Signs of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment’s commitment to sustainability are evident all around its South Amherst site: the large solar array on its roof, the rain barrels at the bottom of downspouts, the station for refilling water bottles in a hallway, the composting toilets in the restrooms. But many of the green measures the center took in constructing its new home, which opened in 2016, are not immediately visible to the eye. At a recent event, “Building without Toxins: Educating for a Healthy Material World,” the nonprofit organization highlighted some of those less immediately obvious measures, the result of thoughtful, even painstaking decisions made at every step of the construction process.
By Jonathan Wright
A recent Gazette article on the award-winning R. W. Kern Center at Hampshire College, also commenting on its beautiful sister-ship, the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, on the Hampshire campus, gives the reader a sense of the scope of the Living Building Challenge undertaking and the achievement (“Hampshire College’s new building earns national award for sustainability,” June 5).
By Katie Koerten
As an environmental educator at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, I do most of my work outside. Until our recent move to our new “living” building I didn’t consider that our nature center itself could help me teach about the environment as well.
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.
By Jonathan A. Wright
One of the primary goals of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) is to eliminate the use of known toxins in products installed in the built environment. If it is harmful to life – humans, animal or anything else – do not use it if at all possible. In 2016, Wright Builders Inc. completed two living buildings which will be evaluated for certification in the next 18-to-24 months. These projects gave us a unique opportunity to work inside the largely unexplored new world of materials research, vetting documentation, and research.