Two years after opening a super-green, $10-million building, Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, has earned one of the toughest environmental ratings in the world.
To become certified as a "Living Building," a project must produce more energy than it uses, avoid all toxic materials, process water and waste on site, and be beautiful.
Sara Draper, outreach director for Hampshire's R.W. Kern Center, says the hardest requirement was collecting drinking water off the roof -- in a way that met local health standards.
"Because this is new, they didn't have requirements for how you're supposed to make potable water without chlorine," Draper said, "and so figuring out what we'd be allowed to do and what kind of testing we might need to do to prove, yes, this is safe, that all took some time."
She said they did end up having to use the municipal water supply for part of the time.
Still, after documenting a year of extreme efficiency, Hampshire got the Living Building designation -- given out by the International Living Future Institute in Seattle.
It's one of 17 such buildings around the world. Smith College in Northampton has one of the others.