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Living Building Challenge Candidate! The systems for this building are simple, and they are dis-aggregated. They are visible and they are quiet. In the case of the composting toilet —uncommon.

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Other Benefits:

Living Building Challenge Candidate ( We are just entering the "Occupancy Phase" which means that we are beginning a year of occupancy within which we must demonstrate that we can attain both a zero energy and zero water use. The zero water use is less challenging for this project, and we are mostly focussed on achieving the very low use level that we projected — because the supply side is robust in comparison to the demand. But that is not true of the energy. That will be a constant balance of use vs supply. We are on of only five LBC contenting projects in the northeast. One, the Omega Center sustainable living center is complete and accredited — the first LCB project of all. Four others are registered for the Challenge but of those four three are still in design. We have completed construction and are entering the Occupancy Phase.

Maintenance Requirements:

The building has been designed to be very low maintenance, so that necessary maintenance can be conducted without the need of heavy equipment since service access is limited to the 100 psf designed capacity of the footbridge. It is quite normal for our office to advocate for a long-life-loose-fit approach to our buildings, and to limit waste through time by creating buildings with durable components and lasting detailing. But in this case we had an additional “lever” in this advocacy — conventional maintenance access was denied. Specific design aspects that support a durable, low maintenance building that were incorporated into the Bechtel Environmental Classroom: 1. Wall and roof systems with designed and constructed positive annual drying potentials — designed to dry to the interior. 2. Air-tightness that virtually eliminates air-transported moisture into the wood framed wall cavities — the building enclosure was tested at the 50% complete stage and obtained a 0.9 ACH50 result (6 times tighter than the Energy Star standard and approaching the Passive House standard. 3. Materials choices — including steel panel roofing, 1” thick (salvaged) cedar ship-lapped siding finished with a clear penetrating sealer, a polished, densifed finished concrete floor for the bulk of the interior spaces. 4. Wide overhanging roof eaves and rakes that shelter the wall and window units from direct, driving rainfall. 5. All four exterior doors are sheltered under porches of some description. The two primary winter use entries (the western and the northern) are designed to reduce or eliminate snow accumulation. 6. The roof fascia is a recessive (square-cut) profile that allows the steel roof edge to shield the wood from direct sun and rain.

Additional Notes:

The building is a new, 2,500 S.F. single-story wood-framed classroom building, acting as a portal (or field station) to the 233 acre forest and pasture property. For the past 60 years the property has accommodated an astronomical observatory. Recently, the College has declared its intention to open the pastoral setting to class activity enriching a wide range of Smith’s courses with natural inspiration — everything from the biological and earth sciences to architecture, poetry and dance courses . The College committed to constructing a year-round gateway building. The building is situated to connect with the heart of the site on the opposite side of a narrow wetland stream that separates the building from the existing, but discontinued county road and the existing observatory building.

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