Green Building/Green Valley

Come learn how to be a “solutionary”! Facilitated by environmental educators from the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, this LEAP program explores how to find hopeful solutions to “greening” our world by touring two certified Living Buildings (the highest standard of green building on the planet), investigating the concept of biomimicry, discovering the unique geology of the Holyoke Mountain Range, and exploring the biodiversity of macroinvertebrates in a local pond. We will navigate our adventures on bike, bus and foot - lowering our carbon footprint all while learning how to use the Pioneer Valley’s remarkable local transportation system.

Program activities include
  • getting to know your group better through group challenges
  • learning how to navigate alternative transportation around Amherst
  • getting to know your local environmental center, the newly certified 23rd Living Building in the world, and learn how it operates to conserve energy and water
  • exploring how biomimicry can help provide solutions to environmental problems
  • discovering Skinner State Park/Mount Holyoke and learning about the local geology of the valley and how what we see and rely on today came to be the way it is
  • exploring a state-of-the-art dairy farm operation and its waste digestion, energy generating capacity
  • learning how to tell the health of water using a biodiversity count and explore a beautiful local farm and conservation area
  • exploring, hiking, eating good food, laughing ...appreciating this beautiful valley!
Learning Outcomes
  • greater level of comfort and deeper social connections with other AC first years
  • initial understanding of mass transit routes and biking routes on Route 116 in Amherst
  • introduction and exploratory familiarity with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, your local, community-based environmental center
  • initial grasp of the International Living Future Institute's Living Buildings program and how this program contributes to human sustainability on the planet
  • understanding the concept of biomimicry - the idea that humans can emulate nature’s tried and true adaptive strategies with new designs and inventions to help solve human problems - and how this can be applied to today’s design challenges
  • deeper understanding of geologic processes in this part of North America and how geology informs our lives today
  • understand how decomposition of cow manure can produce gases used to make electricity
  • learn how the presence of specific species of water creatures can inform us about water quality by the populations found in any specific habitat
  • deeper connection to the 'Happy' Pioneer Valley

Saturday will involve a strenuous hike on a fairly busy automobile entrance drive and on steep forest trails made of loose rock. Sturdy footwear is required.

Saturday will also likely involve walking near cows with the smell of manure and opportunities to get dirty and smelly.

Sunday will involve squatting and balancing on the edge of a pond using nets for collection. Sturdy footwear that can get wet and muddy is required.

Program Schedule:

Friday, August 30: 9am-4pm KK, JS

Students ride the PVTA or use commuter bikes to get to Hitchcock.

9:00: Arrive at the Hitchcock Center & Welcome and Team Building Activity

9:30: Living Building Tours of the Hitchcock Center and Kern Center

12:30pm: Lunch catered from El Comalito

1:30: Hands On Engineering and Design Challenge

3:00: Biomimicry Activity

4:00: Return to campus

Saturday, August 31: 9am-4pm – TW, CK

Students get picked up at Amherst College at 9:00am for the day

9:00am: Geological History of the Valley, hike at Skinner State Park, summiting Mt Holyoke

Noon: Lunch at summit of Mt Holyoke with view of the Valley

1:30pm: Tour Barstow's Longview Dairy Farm, featuring anaerobic methane digester for energy production- bakery snack!

4:00: Return to campus

Sunday, September 1: 9am-noon – CK, TW

Students ride the PVTA or use commuter bikes to get to Bramble Hill Farm.

Water Quality and Biodiversity count at Bramble Hill Farm

Lunch at Amherst College

HCE staff will accompany students during each entire day. Students will return to campus at the end of each day.