The Living Building Challenge (LBC)

  1. creating an attractive, efficient building and surrounding environment
  2. generating all energy necessary for the building from solar or other carbon-free, renewable resources
  3. capturing and treating water on site
  4. harnessing the commitment of its occupants to keep energy and water needs low
Rendering of the new environmental center
Rendering of the new environmental center

The ’66 Environmental Center is designed to reduce overall operating costs to below that of the average Williams academic building, contribute to the college’s greenhouse gas emissions goals, and create a green, net zero building that will attract international attention.

We believe the project is the first to seek LBC certification for a campus historic structure.

Unlike other green building rating systems, LBC requires engaged participation of building occupants in the building operation.

Success is defined in terms of actual, not theoretical, performance. As a leading institution of higher learning, we believe it is our mission to demonstrate extraordinary commitment to higher principles and to show that high performance institutional buildings are possible and practical.

To learn more about Living Building Challenge, visit

To be LBC certified, the project will have to meet ambitious performance requirements over 12 months of continuous occupancy in these seven areas:

1. Site

Learning and Growing

The building is located in the central campus corridor, between Hollander Hall and the new Sawyer Library. Edible landscape offers ample opportunities to learn about permaculture and organic approaches to urban agriculture. The kitchen supports produce preservation and community gatherings.

2. Energy

Renewable and Green
Photovoltaic panels mounted on the ground and roof—combined with efficient air-source heat pumps, a tight building envelope and thoughtful use of electronics and lighting—are expected to produce at least as much energy as the building consumes.

3. Water

A Closed System

100 percent of water for drinking, cleaning and gardening is collected and treated on site. Rainwater captured on rooftops is purified using ultraviolet light. Low-flow fixtures and composting toilets minimize water demand and used water is treated in sub-surface wetlands. A monitoring system helps building occupants learn about and adjust consumption.

4. Health

A Breath of Fresh Air

Interior spaces are designed to be healthy and invigorating. Large windows let in light and fresh air, fostering a strong connection to the natural environment. Indoor air quality is enhanced with the use of non-toxic materials and finishes.

5. Materials

Safe, Locally Sourced

Building materials had minimal negative impact on human and ecosystem health in their extraction and production. The wood was sustainably harvested, local and nontoxic. Preserving the historic Kellogg House and using as much salvaged and recycled building material as possible helped to minimize the project’s carbon footprint.

6. Equity

Human Scale, Human Spaces

The center promotes human-scaled interaction, exploration and engagement with its accessible indoor spaces and surrounding habitats and gardens.

7. Beauty

Preserve and Inspire

The design plans re-envisioned a harmonious and balanced coordination among an eclectic mix of architectural styles accumulated as the building changed purposes and locations in the years since its construction as Williams’ first president’s house in 1794.