The Hitchcock Center for the Environment aims to teach environmental literacy to all ages, while seeking sustainable solutions through the study of natural systems. To that end, this Certified Living Building not only helps students recognize the importance of science and engineering in meeting many of the environmental challenges we face today, but also that the natural world itself holds abundant wisdom and solutions.
Thank you for your recent article, “A topic worth tackling,” about teachers’ struggles to teach climate change in the classroom. As an elementary public school teacher who is also a board member of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, I would like to add that this organization offers guidance and concrete lessons about climate change to teachers, including field trips, teacher trainings, and curricula that meet Massachusetts state standards. At my elementary school, the Hitchcock Center helps students and teachers understand the intersections of natural science, engineering, technology and design as critical to meeting many of the environmental challenges that confront society today, such as generating renewable energy, maintaining healthy supplies of fresh water, and mitigating climate change.
In 2016, the Hitchcock Center for the Environment moved into its new Living Building on West Street in Amherst. Staying true to its mission, this new building was constructed to achieve the most rigorous green building certification in the world. The sustainable building allowed the Center to expand its programs and to use the building itself as a teaching tool to support sustainable engineering and greater awareness of our environment. Producer Dave Fraser visited the Center recently and shares this story.
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 Greta Jochem, Staff Writer
Dead leaves and plants littered the dirt and the group scrambled over a few logs and rocks making their way through the wooded area on city-owned conservation land. After a few minutes, the group, led by teacher Renee Bachman and Hitchcock Center environmental educator Ted Watt, reached a clearing where the students were on a mission: take count of how many red-backed salamanders they see.
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.