Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, is taking part in the green building movement with the construction of the R. W. Kern Center, which opened in the spring of 2016. The building was certified to meet the Living Building Challenge in spring 2018 and has satisfied building standards such as Net Zero energy and water. To meet these standards, the design of the building employs solar photovoltaic panels, a rain water catchment and purification system, a greywater treatment system, storm water infiltration rain gardens, composting toilets, and control monitoring systems to make the building more efficient and decrease its harmful impacts on the environment. The greywater treatment system utilizes both indoor vertical flow constructed wetlands (VFCW) and an outdoor horizontal flow constructed wetland (HFCW) to filter greywater effluent from sinks and a coffee bar, meeting the requirement to treat and handle all wastewater generated on site. Although the VFCW system performance has been shown to be effective in exterior environments (Sklarz et al., 2009), its use inside a building requires scrutiny to verify that the adoption of this system does not affect the operation of essential building systems.
The green systems that the Kern Center and others like it are employing may have impacts on the building's environment, construction and operation. These modifications must be monitored, and their effects quantified. The alteration of the thermal and air quality characteristics of the interior building has a significant effect on occupant health and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) energy on consumption. Several studies have investigated the benefits of indoor plants for air filtration or for exterior greywater filtration.