R.W. Kern Center
Hampshire College, Amherst MA

Full Living certification is the goal of this project, meaning that all 20 imperatives of the Living Building Challenge must be achieved.

Site: The building was previously an orchard with contaminated soil from pesticide use in the 1960s and ‘70s. The disturbed site was converted to a meadow of native flowers and plants. Hampshire College committed to converting to organic framing practices on 1.6 acres of their existing agricultural land; planting an orchard of local heirloom apples on campus; and placing 46 acres of land holdings into a permanent conservation restriction with the Kestrel Land Trust.

Water: Like the Class of 1966 Environmental Center, the Kern Center has created its own mini-rooftop watershed, and captures, treats, and disposes of all its own water on site. The building uses only 150 gallons per day. Greywater is filtered through indoor planters and through constructed wetlands. This project is also a DEP pilot project, and has made an impact on environmental water policy in Massachusetts.

Energy: An 118 Kw rooftop solar array generates more than enough energy for the building because of its design, which included: passive solar orientation; robust insulation; an air-tight envelope; exterior shades; triple-glazed windows; a double-stud cavity wall and roof filled with cellulose to achieve assembly values of R-40 and R-60, respectively; tall operable windows; and a heat pump system that provides heating and cooling independent from the ventilation system. Triple-glazed windows and high-efficiency mechanical systems were used for their superior performance and quality.

Healthy Air: Most telling is that the Construction Manager noted that Kern was the only project where his crew preferred to eat lunch indoors — meaning, even during construction the indoor air quality was excellent.

Materials: Carbon-sequestering wood, schist from a nearby quarry, and concrete slab with local aggregate are the major building materials. The simple materials palette will minimized the separation and sorting work on disassembly, increasing the likelihood of its salvage and re-use. The millwork subcontractor, Westek Architectural Millwork, became Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified to work on the project. The GC collaborated with their wood product provider, r.k. MILES, to find local projects to use our project’s excess, which resulted from large FSC minimum orders. 903.972 t CO2e were off-set locally.

Equity: This project rejuvenates an earlier campus-planning concept by reintroducing a central wildflower meadow along with a welcoming building at the main entrance of campus. This intervention brings people and nature back to the center of campus, creating a pedestrian-centered place for students and visitors.

Beauty & Inspiration: Craftsmanship is central to the beauty of this building. The irregularity and precision of the stonewall attests to its handmade character. The building as a living lab concept has inspired new curricula for software engineering; biology; economics; and political/environmental justice.

This 17,000 sf building on a 2.3 acre site houses the new Admissions Office and Welcome Center for Hampshire College. The building features learning and program spaces, a gallery, coffee bar and campus store. It has been awarded a 2017 COTE Top Ten (American Institute of Architect’s Committee on the Environment) honor. (Congratulation team!) For this project Integrated Eco Strategy consulted on all imperatives of the Materials Petal. This building is currently in its 12-month performance period.



Architect: Bruner/Cott & Associates, Inc.

Civil Engineer: The Berkshire Design Group

Landscape Designer: Richard Burck & Associates

LBC Consultants: Integrated Eco Strategy