Dartmouth's Lloyd Center's welcome center built by Voc-Tech students – SouthCoastToday.com

DARTMOUTH — Students from Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School have put back on hardhats and picked up tools as construction has resumed on the “living building” at the Lloyd Center.
“I’m delighted to see the students back on site working,” said Kathryn Duff, leading architect from Studio2Sustain Inc.
Started in 2016, The “Living Building Challenge” will be an environmentally sustainable welcome center for visitors, students and education purposes, built entirely by Voc-Tech students.
The pandemic halted construction until students could return. The project resumed in mid-September.
“It’s wonderful that we get to work with Voc,” said Rachel Stronach, the Lloyd Center’s executive director. “Education is a big part of our mission.”
The LBC Building, located at 430 Potomska Road, will be open seven days a week. It will not use municipal water or sewer and will generate its own power.
“The building is living, breathing, and all of the materials are ‘Red List’ chemical free, so it doesn’t have toxins. It’s not off-gassing or anything,” said Duff, who has been affiliated with the center since 1993. According to The Living Building Challenge, the Red List represents the “worst in class” materials, chemicals, and elements that pose serious risks to human health and the greater ecosystem, and that are prevalent in the building products industry.
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She was instrumental in creating the LBC program. “It’s a very high-end environmental certification,” Duff said. “The Lloyd Center’s mission is outreach, research and education.”
In addition to a composting toilet, the building will also feature a safe area to drop off students and wash hands before working in the field. “All the students that come here to do education stuff is fieldwork, and 90% of it is in the field doing research and education,” Duff said.
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The building will also have net zero energy, a grey water garden; an energy generation wall; and will be a carbon-neutral site and healthy habitat. It will also be a classroom on inclement weather days. 
Duff is optimistic the building will be ready by June 2022.
The 82 acres of estuary and maritime forest was donated by Karen Lloyd in honor of her mother, Katharine Nordell Lloyd.
Since 1980, according to the website, the Lloyd Center has been the only area organization focused on educating the public about coastal and watershed issues as well as conducting research on coastal ecosystems and endangered species.
The center offers school-based activities every year. “Pre-COVID, we were working with anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 students a year, and a number of those students come here for field programs,” Stronach said.
Voc-Tech’s plumbing, carpentry and heating and air conditioning instructors are leading the students through the construction. “It’s a good hands-on learning experience, especially with this new green-type energy,” said Scott Thibault, the plumbing instructor.
“When we work in the shop, they do it and then they have to take it apart,” he said. “Whatever we do here, it’s there forever. And they can come back with their parents and say, ‘Hey, this is what we did.’”
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This isn’t the first time Voc-Tech students have built on the property. The canoe building was constructed by students several years ago, according to Elizabeth Moniz; the education director.
“It’s pretty cool to be here,” added Alex Simmons, a senior. “I mean, we use everything that we learned in shop into the real world.”
Simmons and his classmates added a green-energy piping system, called arcotherm, to lead from the toilet to the basement composter.
“The whole composting system, it’s very new to us,” Simmons said. “So, applying it to these new toilets, and all the drainage systems, is pretty cool.
“Recycling and composting helps out a lot for the environment.”
“Any students or community members that enter the campus, they’re going to enter through a building that encapsulates our mission.” Stronach added. “It’s unique, its environmental, there’s nothing like it really around here.”
The Dartmouth native has been working with the Lloyd Center since she was in elementary school. She interned from 2001-2005, was education director from 2009-2013 and has been serving as executive director the past eight years.
Stronach is in the middle of the center’s first capital campaign. The original goal was to raise $3 million, but we had to fund an additional $2 million. “We did see about a 300% increase in materials for the span of the pandemic,” Stronach added.
Additional funds went toward renovations, expansion of the main building and a new teaching pavilion on the water. The organization has raised $3.3 Million.
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“For community members, we really see this as an example of what you can do, too,” said Stronach. “It’s the highest environmental standard that you can go for.
“Hopefully, people can learn new things from the different systems.”
Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.

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