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Hampshire College is home to the largest Living Certified higher education project in the world

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Hampshire College is home to the largest Living Certified higher education project in the world

The project joins 16 other Living Buildings certified to date.

By David Malone, Associate Editor | April 11, 2018
The R.W. Kern center at Hampshire College
The R.W. Kern center at Hampshire College

Designed by Bruner/Cott & Associates, the R.W. Kern Center on Hampshire College’s campus recently became the largest Living Certified higher education project in the world. The 17,000-sf building cost $10.4 million, including $7.4 million in construction.

The Kern Center originally opened as a multi-functional welcome center in April 2016. It includes a central double-height, glass-pavilion atrium that houses a café, lounge, and gallery. Two stone-clad wings house admissions and financial aid offices and classrooms with views of an amphitheater, rainwater harvesting reservoirs, solar farm, orchard, and wildflower meadow.


Inside the atrium of the R.W. Kern CenterCourtesy Bruner/Cott & Associates.


In order to achieve Living Building Certification, the project owners were required to document at least one year of performance and achieve all 20 imperatives that are part of the Challenge. Project highlights include:

Net-zero water attained through rainwater collection and treatment systems

Net-zero energy achieved via PVs on the roof, which generate about 17% more energy than the building uses

Biophilic elements such as local stone and wood

— Red List compliant building materials that avoid products made with toxic chemicals


The profile of the R.W. Kern CenterCourtesy Bruner/Cott & Associates.


The completed building is used as a teaching tool by the college. Students can study the circulation of carbon and water in waste treatment and algorithms for monitoring its energy use.

The Building Team included Wright Builders, Inc. (GC), Kohler & Lewis Engineers (mechanical and plumbing engineer), R.W. Sullivan Engineering (electrical engineer), Foley Buhl Roberts & Associates, Inc. (structural engineer), and Richard Burke Associates (landscape).

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