Kent Hicks Construction Co Inc - passive house, reduce energy consumption, deep energy retrofits, net zero, prefabricated homes, prefab homes, net zero ready, healthy homes, net zero homes, green building, affordable green prefab homes, passive house builders, energy efficient homes, building a new home

Kent Hicks


Certified Passive House Consultant

Faculty, Building and Construction Technology Program

Department of Environmental Conservation
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Energy & Materials Consultant


Kent Hicks came to Western Massachusetts in the 1980’s to study with acclaimed British furniture-maker, David Powell.  After mastering the art of fine furniture making, he began building and renovating residential and commercial properties with the same commitment to craftsmanship.  Today, his portfolio includes hundreds of beautiful, energy efficient new and renovated homes, as well as authentic historic restorations.

Kent’s commitment to mitigating climate change and passion to learn the best practices in building science have made him an innovative leader in the construction of high-performance buildings. From the Energy Crafted houses of the 1990’s to today’s Deep Energy Retrofits and Zero Net Energy buildings, Kent has garnered decades of technical expertise and a thorough understanding of emerging challenges, such as moisture management, superior indoor air quality, material toxicity and life cycle assessment of product and process.

Kent’s search for the most responsible way to build led him to Passivhaus design, a standard that combines rigorous energy efficiency specifications with comfort and precision engineering quality.

Lynn Hicks


Lynn is co-owner of East Branch Studio and assists with human resources, public relations and management decisions. Lynn is passionate about  reducing individual carbon footprints. She is grateful to be living on the East Branch of the healthy Westfield River.

Debra Pitkin


Debra has 20 years experience in finance and administration for service industries, including; construction, real estate, design-build, architecture, interior design, architectural media, and banking. She specializes in growing small businesses to mid-sized. She has embraced the tiny house (& remote work) movement and has been an off grid yurt dweller in eastern NY since 2018. She speaks both artist and business and has a parallel arts and entertainment background; is an eligible member of Sag-AFTRA for television/film and bona fide member of Actors Equity for stage, originating leading roles in dozens of new musicals, independent films and even a tv pilot or two.  Her singer/songwriter style could best be categorized as “soul” (though she sings in all styles-as required) and has plans to add novelist to her repertoire.

Ben Leedy


Ben gained the base of his carpentry experience in the Boston area after receiving a Master’s in Architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology. He enjoys the collaboration, problem solving and creativity that goes into building a beautiful, high-performance house. Outside of building/making things he enjoys biking, basketball and staying active.

Emily Duffy


Emily is a graduate of UMass Amherst with a degree in Building and Construction Technology. As a native to Western Massachusetts, she feels obligated and honored to be part of the future of sustainable building and is interested in exploring innovative design approaches that can be melded with fine craftsmanship. In her free time she enjoys restoring furniture, rummaging through antique shops and immersing herself in nature.

Hala Abdul-Rasool


Hala is a graduate of UMass Amherst with a B.S. in Computer Systems Engineering and an M.S. in Sustainable Building Systems.  She is also LEED Green Associate certified.  She enjoys organizing the complex and learning new ways of building more environmentally friendly.

Véronique Bryant


Véronique has over 30 years of experience as an administrative and executive assistant in the Netherlands and the US. When she is not at the East Branch Studio office keeping the books, she works with her clients on social media and graphic design, and enjoys working with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Véronique is also a mosaic artist, watercolor painter, loves recycled & upcycled fashion design, and has a passion for languages.

Tom Coughlin


Tom has been a craftsman for the last 40 years and a professional woodworker for the last 30 years. Starting as a classically trained fine furnituremaker, He is also an avid boatbuilder, stringed instrument builder, bowyer and arrowsmith. Tom enjoys bringing all of these skills together to solve problems and create living spaces that are both efficient and beautiful.

Chris Arbour


Chris got his start in carpentry working for a custom framing company out of the Berkshires of Massachusetts. This also cultivated his interest of furniture making and woodworking which he does with his spare time when he’s not hiking, playing music, or reading. He wishes to work towards a future that preserves the natural world. Progress with sustainability is attainable.

John Collector


Before landing in western Mass, John lived and worked in California, New York, and New Orleans. He likes chess, reading, and basketball. On the weekends, he runs a small farm with his girlfriend. His dog is named Manny.

Kyle Farr


Kyle is a third generation tradesman with a deep interest in the intersection of design and energy systems. He has experience as a sawyer, restoration woodworker, and in general carpentry and looks forward to expanding his knowledge of high performance building systems. He enjoys working with local materials and a team that takes a holistic approach to the building process.

Ryan Hutchinson


While Ryan has been involved in the building process from frame to finish, his expertise is in finish carpentry and kitchen work. Ryan is glad to be part of a team that is committed to lowering the carbon footprint and providing energy-efficient homes. He is particularly interested in using reclaimed materials for finish work—bringing old and new together.

Elliot Magnan


Elliot, born and raised in Northern Vermont, has always found the work of Mother Nature breathtaking. When they saw that East Branch Studio was hiring entry level carpenters, they knew right away that it was going to be a good fit. Combining the blue collar work life with a sense of caring for our planet were exactly the opportunities that Elliot wanted to snatch up and start a serious career with. Currently, they are learning as much as they can from those more skilled and experienced, hoping one day they’ll get to be doing the teaching.

Joe Pivero


Joe has held and maintained an unrestricted Massachusetts CSL & Registered Home Improvement Contractor certification for many years. He specializes in finish & trim carpentry. His interests include listening to music, playing drums and percussion, home improvement activities and working the woodlands which surround his home. It’s very peaceful. Most importantly, he enjoys relaxing in the yard or in front of the wood stove with his magnificent English Mastiff, Kingman’s Sir Lorenzo, “Enzo” who is the sixth of the English Mastiffs which he has cared for over the past 35 years.

Travis Toole


As a Western Massachusetts native with decades of experience as a journeyman, and independent contractor, Travis brings both an extensive and intimate knowledge of the area and the trade.
Beyond his work in the field, Travis is continually following contemporary studies by “building scientists” on how our understanding of material and energy physics plays a role in the construction of durable, efficient, comfortable and healthy structures. You may find Travis giving a ski lesson at Berkshire East, whitewater kayaking the Deerfield, biking or surfing in his spare time… while making plans and steady progress for a small farm operation with his family in the long run.