Omega Center for Sustainable Living

Rhinebeck, New York

  • Architect: BNIM Architects
  • Contractor: Dave Sember Construction
  • Developer: The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
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South exterior
Credit: OCSL

LEED-Platinum and Living Building-certified, this Center for Sustainable Living demonstrates and teaches what is possible through regenerative design.

Designed to protect the local ecosystem, preserve freshwater resources, and serve as a community resource, the Omega Institute's 6,200 sf Center for Sustainable Living is the first of its kind in the United States to combine sophisticated green-building and wastewater treatment technologies under one roof.

The innovative educational center demonstrates ecological responsibility and alternative construction techniques that can be replicated locally and globally. The center has a laboratory, water garden, constructed wetlands, and a biological wastewater filtration system called an Eco Machine. It has indoor and outdoor classrooms for visitors, including a yoga studio, cutting to the heart of popular conceptions about how we treat our most precious resources. The self-sustaining building is heated and cooled by geothermal systems using solar and passive heating in winter and sun shading in summer while generating photovoltaic power.

This comprehensive project relied on a team of experts in wastewater, landscape, civil, mechanical, and structural design, each with a history of integrative practice on high-performance buildings. In periodic all-team meetings and ongoing collaboration, Tipping Mar contributed to a highly integrated design and ultimately a highly integrated building and site.

The Omega Center achieved LEED Platinum and, more importantly, Living Building certification in 2010. The Living Building Challenge, widely regarded as the world’s most rigorous green-building performance standard, has redefined the design and construction process for more than seventy projects since its launch in 2006. To achieve ‘Living’ status, all program requirements must be met and proven through a full year of operation. A Living Building must generate all of its own energy through clean, renewable resources; capture and treat its own water through ecologically sound techniques; incorporate only nontoxic, appropriately sourced materials; and operate efficiently and for maximum beauty.

Lastly, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living was one of the recipients of the 2010 AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects Award.






Executed as Tipping Mar