Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

This Just Might Be the Greenest College in the World

Business
This Just Might Be the Greenest College in the World

Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, may be a small school at 1,400 students, but it's making huge leaps and bounds in sustainability. The school will soon be home to a living building and will be the only college generating all of its electricity from solar energy.

The Living Building Challenge is the most world's most rigorous environmental standard buildings. It requires net-zero energy waste and water systems, as well as sustainable, local construction materials. There are only eight school buildings worldwide that have been certified to date. Hampshire's 17,000-square-foot R.W. Kern Center—slated to open March 2016—will be the ninth.

“This building wears our culture on its sleeve,” Hampshire President Jonathan Lash told the Christian Science Monitor. “The Living Building Initiative challenges people to build buildings that leave no footprint, that push the boundaries of what is possible and that promote positive social and ethical standards."

The current estimate for the project is $11 million. "The building costs about 10 percent more than a traditional building of its size," principal contractor Jonathan Wright of Wright Builders Inc. told the Washington Times.

But those costs will be recouped by long-term energy savings. “A building of this size would typically use 7,000 gallons of water a day; we estimate the Kern Center will use 150,” Lash said. “And honestly, if we’re saving $500,000 dollars [annually], why not?”

It's not just about saving money in the long run, though. The socially conscious college felt an obligation to take the lead. “What if, in 10 years, 20 percent of the nation’s buildings met something like this standard?" Lash asked. "Think of the impact and the quality of people’s interactions with each other [because] physical spaces define how we interact.”

The project has been bold, to say the least. The college eliminated a roadway and parking lot in the middle of campus to site the building, converting the rest of the space back into meadows and pathways. The school also stopped mowing 15 acres of lawn at the students' requests, allowing the area to be restored to a meadow. “Students have been tracking the return of wildlife and we’ve been able to save about $30,000 a year,” Lash said.

Hampshire will also install 19 acres of solar panels next year and SolarCity is offering Tesla batteries with 10 kilowatts of storage to provide back up power during periods of low generation. Additionally, the school sources food from its campus farm and other local farms.

“I want our students to experience a culture that is always challenging itself to become sustainable,” Lash said. “A lot of students are enthusiastic, but everyone agrees that what we’re doing feels right and matches our values."

Hampshire College's initiatives are receiving praise far and wide. "These sustainability initiatives are impressive and inspirational," wrote Sharon Chen in a blog post on Solution Generation, "especially because students are the ones who are pushing for green changes; as Lash puts it, 'if anything is to change, it would happen with kids like these.'"

"Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders, and with our future resting on such passionate and determined college students, we are in good hands," said Chen. "From solving billion dollar problems to successfully lobbying corporations for green changes to reducing on-campus waste, students are demonstrating that they not only care about solving our climate challenge, but that they fully intend to do so."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

World’s First Off-Grid EcoCapsule Runs Entirely on Renewable Energy

Solar-Powered Water Wheel Removes 350 Tons of Trash From Baltimore Harbor

$300 Underground Greenhouse Grows Your Food Year-Round

Couple Builds Greenhouse Around Home to Grow Food and Keep Warm

This fall brings three new environmental movies. David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet | Official Trailer

This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice walk out and rally at the company's headquarters to demand that leaders take action on climate change in Seattle, Washington on Sept. 20, 2019. JASON REDMOND / AFP via Getty Images

The world's largest online retailer is making it slightly easier for customer to make eco-conscious choices.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Moms Clean Air Force members attend a press conference hosted by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announcing legislation to ban chlorpyrifos on July 25, 2017. Moms Clean Air Force

The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a risk assessment for toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos Tuesday that downplayed its effects on children's brains and may be the first indication of how the administration's "secret science" policy could impact public health.

Read More Show Less
Evacuees wait to board a bus as they are evacuated by local and state government officials before the arrival of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Maria Trimarchi and Sarah Gleim

If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.

Read More Show Less
In 'My Octopus Teacher,' Craig Foster becomes fascinated with an octopus and visits her for hundreds of days in a row. Netflix

In his latest documentary, My Octopus Teacher, free diver and filmmaker Craig Foster tells a unique story about his friendship and bond with an octopus in a kelp forest in Cape Town, South Africa. It's been labeled "the love story that we need right now" by The Cut.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch