Living Building Challenge Mini-Conference,

September 12-13, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA

Hampshire College and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment are both planning facilities that aspire to the Living Building Challenge, the most rigorous environmental design standard in the world.

Wright Builders, Inc. of Northampton, MA, in collaboration with the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), Hampshire, the Hitchcock Center, and the project design teams, will offer a two-day series of presentations and workshops on the Living Building Challenge September 12 and 13 at Hampshire College. Bruner/Cott Planners and Architects of Cambridge and designLab architects of Boston are the project architects for the Hampshire and Hitchcock projects, respectively.

Keynote guest for the events is Amanda Sturgeon, executive director of the International Living Future Institute in Seattle, which has developed, managed, and promoted the Living Building Challenge worldwide.

Only five buildings have achieved Living Building certification. Several hundred more are being planned, including for the first time – with Hampshire College and the Hitchcock Center – two on adjacent portions of one campus.

Hampshire College’s “living” building will be the point of entry into the campus. Serving as a multifunctional learning, teaching, and exhibition space, it will house the admissions office, provide new instructional and learning areas, showcase student work, serve as a hub to share information about the College, and highlight the many aspects of Hampshire’s deep commitment to sustainability. More information »   

Continuing a 50-year legacy, the Hitchcock Center for the Environment has taken on this ambitious goal to amplify our mission by being a catalyst for change. The Hitchcock Center’s “living” building will support new and existing educational programs that use the study of science and nature, nature’s models, systems, processes, and elements, as a means to inspire creative solutions to problems of sustainability. Building features will include: flexible and adaptive state-of-the-art classrooms, engaging live and interpretive exhibits that highlight New England habitats and the issues that threaten them, interactive and integrated building systems that teach about key ecological principles, demonstration gardens and outdoor learning spaces to engage and connect people with the natural world. More information »

In addition to net zero water and energy, “living” buildings must achieve a documented year long record of performance-based benchmarks, and meet exacting quantitative and qualitative standards regarding local sourcing, socially equitable purchasing and sourcing, active educational components within the design of the building itself, and be virtually free of 41 of the most toxic commonly used chemicals and compounds found in building materials today. For more information visit

Red List materials have been identified and prohibited based on extensive testing data reflecting their toxic effects during formulation, manufacture, installation, and in the built environment. They include such common materials as neoprene, PVC, chlorine, lead, and cadmium.

Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash said: “I’m thrilled that Hampshire is part of the Living Building Challenge. The construction soon to be underway embodies our deeply held commitment to integrating sustainability into our curriculum and into our institutional practices as a whole. Having the Hitchcock Center share Hampshire’s campus makes this commitment even more powerful, and the two projects together are a testament to the ever increasing support for environmental advocacy and change among our constituencies.”

Julie Johnson, executive director of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, said: “The Living Building Challenge ushers in an exciting era that looks to nature as model and mentor in the built environment. Hitchcock’s new ‘living’ building will be an interactive teaching tool that will amplify and strengthen our programs and curricula for all ages. Our site on Hampshire College land will allow us to double the size of our current facility and meet the growing demand for new ways of viewing and valuing the natural world.”


Friday, Sept. 12, 2-4:30 p.m. – The Living Building as Educator, with Amanda Sturgeon, Hitchcock Center and Hampshire staff, and the project design teams. Hampshire’s Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall.

The public is invited to register in advance for limited seating. Registration »

Saturday, Sept. 13, 3-5 p.m.Understanding the Living Building Challenge, an event that includes AIA learning credits. Hampshire’s Franklin Patterson Hall, West Lecture Hall.

The public and area professionals are invited to register in advance. Registration »


Media contacts:

Hampshire College: Elaine Thomas, director of communications,, 413.559.5482

Hitchcock Center for the Environment: Julie Johnson, executive director, 413.256.6006

Wright Builders: Jonathan Wright, principal, 413.586.8287

Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA): Miriam Aylward, program manager, 413.774.6051, ext. 14; (For event registration)