The R. W. Kern Center
In 2016 the R.W. Kern Center became Hampshire College's first new building in 40 years (Figure 1). Located at the heart of the Hampshire College campus, the R.W. Kern Center is a multi-purpose facility intended to embody a high threshold of forward- thinking sustainable design: generating its own energy; capturing and treating its own water; and processing and recycling its waste. Its design also embodies a broader definition of “green” building, prioritizing non-toxic materials, local and ethical products, and principals of biophilia and natural beauty. The new building, which includes classrooms, offices, and a community café and gallery, serves as a primary entry point to the campus and was designed to engage prospective students as well as provide community space. In the spring of 2018, the Kern Center became the 17th building to be certified and meet the Living Building Challenge (LBC) (International Living Future Institute, 2018a) after a year of post-occupancy performance verification. At 17,000 square feet, it is the largest Living Building on a higher education campus and considering the relatively small size of the college (~1300 students) it showcases Hampshire College's substantial commitment to sustainable design and development.
The Living Building Challenge
A program of the International Living Future Institute, the Living Building Challenge is a building certification system and sustainable design framework for creating built environments that have a positive impact on people and the environment (International Living Future Institute, 2018a). The Challenge is organized into seven performance areas covering different aspects of holistic sustainable design: place, water, energy, health + happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. In order to achieve “Living” status, projects must fulfill all imperatives in each of these categories.
Hampshire College is an innovative private college in Amherst, Massachusetts. The academic program is highly dynamic and interdisciplinary, emphasizing an inquiry-based and learner-centered liberal arts education. Students are empowered to think, discover, advocate, and build essential skills through an individualized divisional system utilizing portfolios, narrative evaluations, and self-reflection. The College's motto, Non Satis Scire (To Know is Not Enough), is a call to action for students, as well as the institution. It is not enough for colleges and universities to merely educate students on issues of sustainability or environmental and social justice; Hampshire College has the added responsibility of applying this knowledge in all of its operations. The R.W. Kern Center embodies the commitment to environmental sustainability at Hampshire and is a powerful example of the dynamic role sustainable design can play in educating the next generation of sustainability leaders.