Completion date


The building is owner-occupied, with approximately 14 staff (9.5 FTE). Occupant hours are standard M-F 8AM-5:30PM. Weekend hours include one Saturday per month at 4 hours. Evening programs average one per week over 14 weeks from 6:30-8:30PM. Occupancy hours are projected to increase over time.

Days per year Building is fully occupied:


The project was to build a 8,500 square foot environmental education center, to meet the Living Building Challenge.

Type of Construction New
Number of buildings 1
Floor area of each building 8,949
Bathrooms 4.0
Stories 1
Conditioned Building Volume 98,937 cu ft
Conditioned Floor Area 7,442 sq ft
Semiconditioned Floor Area 1,087 sq ft
Unconditioned Floor Area 420 sq ft
Historic significance

Not applicable.

Location and Climate Details


845 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
United States
Location Type Rural
Climate Region Zone 5
Lat. / Long. POINT (-72.5247293 42.3241969)
Elevation 218 ft
Solar Insolation .6914 kWh/m2/day
Annual CDD and Base Temp 3037 | 50
Annual HDD and Base Temp 5754 | 65


Site conditions:
brownfield site, agricultural land
Site description:

The site is located on land owned by Hampshire College. It was a former apple orchard and as a result was contaminated from lead arsenate spraying. The Hitchcock Center developed a plan to remediate soils on the site by stripping the top 7-9 inches off the surface. Contaminated soil was buried under the parking area, reducing costs for trucking and disposal off site. New clean soils from local sources were brought in to the site for landscaping and grading work.

Materials and Design Strategy

Special Materials:

Materials for this project were required to meet the Living Building Challenge requirements. These included local/regional sourcing and vetting against the Red List.
Certified sustainably harvested wood
Cradle to cradle carpets, windows blinds
native landscaping
Local soils
No VOC paints and finishes

Special Architectural Measures:

The building is located on a site with clear southern aspect for optimal solar gain. Triple glazed Alpen windows (71) and daylighting strategies were used throughout. There is some thermal mass in the concrete slab flooring.
Building envelope as engineering measure. Extensive solar studies to locate for optimal solar gain,
Roof overhangs.
Vegetated screen
Windows limited on north side

LCA Description:

Not applicable.

Indoor Environment Description:
The building is heated and cooled via a heat recovery variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system and multiple indoor air terminal units. The VRF system is a R410A refrigerant loop heat pump system which works like a conventional water loop heat pump system except that the VRF uses an outdoor unit to remove or add heat to the refrigerant loop. The code required minimum outdoor air ventilation is provided by energy recovery DOAS units and is ducted to the return plenum of the indoor ceiling mounted indoor air terminal units. The DOAS unit (Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV)) is composed of supply and return fans with variable speed drives, pre-filters and final filters, and enthalpy wheel.