The Class of 1966 Environmental Center earns Living Building certification.

Williams College’s Class of 1966 Environmental Center has been named the 34th Living Building in the world by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). To achieve the ILFI’s Living Building certification, which is the most advanced green-building standard in the world, all energy and water used in the building must be generated on site, on an annual net-zero basis and without the use of fossil fuels, in addition to other sustainability goals.

Opened in 2015, the Class of 1966 Environmental Center houses the college’s Center for Environmental Studies, which includes the environmental studies academic program and the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives, which helps to set and pursue the college’s sustainability goals.

Located at a major crossroads on Williams’ campus, the Class of 1966 Environmental Center maximizes the use of space, minimizes energy and water demand, and uses on-site solar energy and rooftop water collection to produce 100% of the annual energy and water required for its operation.

Featuring a classroom, meeting and study spaces, a reading room, a kitchen and gardens on all sides—all designed with equity, inclusion and biophilic beauty in mind—the center is a living laboratory for sustainability, where users can study the process of integrated design, green building strategies and renewable energy. In addition, rain gardens constructed around the center gather rainwater and slowly return it to the ground in order to deter flooding in nearby buildings. The small ponds that formed as a result have created a haven for frogs, turtles, ducks and other wildlife.

Mike Evans, deputy director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives, says the ’66 Environmental Center is “pushing the boundaries on sustainable buildings.” He adds: “The ripple effects of pursuing and achieving Living Building certification are visible in buildings that have come since,” which include the Center for Developmental Economics’ Fellows Hall, Fort Bradshaw, the new Davis Center building project, and the new WCMA project.

Learn more about the Class of 1966 Environmental Center and the college’s sustainability initiatives.

Published March 14, 2024