By Communications

The Living Building Challenge asks us to imagine a building that answers the question: “What does good look like?”

As a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment, the Living Building Challenge (LBC) sets out to create buildings that are:

  • Regenerative spaces that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community.
  • Self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site. Living Buildings produce more energy than they use and collect and treat all water on site.
  • Healthy and beautiful.

Greenbuild is kicking off its Green Building Tours series with “Green Day Out” at 8:00am on Monday, November 6. Green Day Out will bring participants to see three buildings designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, and a fourth that uses the most advanced cross laminated timber construction in the United States! This tour will take you to Western Massachusetts, where you be able to see the application of and implementation of sustainable design frameworks that have resulted in cutting edge projects that are changing the building industry. Here's a sneak peek at the projects:

The R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College, designed by USGBC MA Chapter Sponsor Bruner/Cott & Associates, is a 2-story, 17,000 SF registered LBC project & 2017 COTE Top 10 Award winner. It generates 100% of its energy on-site and reduces water consumption by 95%. To reach the desired self-sustaining goals, the eco-friendly center has been outfitted with solar panels, composting toilets and a rainwater harvesting system. The Kern Center now functions as a hub for student life with a “community living room” and cafe, and it also serves as a welcome center for parents and staff. Moreover, it also houses a learning and teaching laboratory for both students and visitors. This green building is aiming to bring Hampshire closer to its goal that is to be completely carbon-neutral in coming years.

The Hitchcock Center for the Environment is a single story, 9,000 SF environmental education center and registered LBC project. Designed to be a teaching tool, The Hitchcock Center offers free tours twice monthly to the community. The net zero energy building harvests and recycles its own water, uses composting toilets, and was constructed with responsibly sourced, nontoxic materials. The Hitchcock Center includes educational displays for Pre-K through adults, explaining composting toilets, potable rainwater harvesting & treatment, and greywater systems. The project supports a new approach to achieving environmental literacy in the 21st century.


The Bechtel Environmental Classroom, a 2,300 SF single story building designed as a field station for Smith College, was the fifth Certified Living Building in the world and first in New England. Designed by Coldham & Hartman Architects, the classroom is a wood-framed building that serves as a field station for a 233-acre forest and pasture property. It doubles as a classroom and seminar space. The building uses solar panels and an innovative septic system involving composting toilets to fit the consumption imperatives. Since the building’s opening in September 2012, students have monitored a range of data points of electricity and water usage to demonstrate that the building operated over its first year of occupancy as a net-zero facility. “The design and construction of this remarkable building has been a great way to engage our students’ cross-disciplinary abilities and put them in a position where they were making production decisions,”  said Drew Guswa, professor of engineering and director of Smith’s Center for Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability (CEEDS) in a press release. “The building has been, and will continue to be, an invaluable teaching tool.” 

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Design Building is a 4-story, 87,500 GSF building pending LEED Gold. Its heavy-timber wood structure demonstrates how the industry can address climate change by building with wood. UMass says its new Design Building is the largest modern wood building in the U.S. – and the most advanced cross-laminated timber (CLT) building in the country. Designed by Boston-based architects Leers Weinzapfel Associates, the $52 million building is among the first in the U.S. to use a wood-concrete composite floor system. The building saves the equivalent of over 2,300 metric tons of carbon when compared to a traditional energy-intensive steel and concrete building, says the university.


Join us! Monday, November 6 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Meet at Tour Meet Desk (Lobby). This is a tour you just can't miss! Upon completing the tour, you will be able to discuss 1) why building with wood is critical for the building industry and addressing climate change; 2) the fundamentals of mass timber buildings and structural systems; 3) the basic requirements of the Living Building Challenge; and 4) the collaborative approach and engagement strategies used in Living Building Projects to ensure goals are met. 

Greenbuild is just around the corner. Register today and take a look at the schedule for all of the exciting events Greenbuild 2017 has to offer!

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