Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes is the World Leader of Green Buildings

By: | April 14th, 2015

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a world leader in sustainable innovation.

Its Center for Sustainable Landscapes (the CSL) is hailed as the first and only project in the world to attain the most rigorous sustainable building and landscape standards such as:

  • Living Building Challenge by the International Living Future Institute, the world’s most rigorous green building standard
  • LEED® Platinum
  • Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES™)
  • WELL Building Platinum project (pilot)

The Living Building Challenge is the most stringent measure of building sustainability. So far, only seven buildings in the world have met the criteria of the Living Building Challenge. Instead of just looking at energy and water as a typical green building considerations, it considers projects based on seven performance categories called Petals: Site, water, energy, health & happiness, materials, equity, and beauty.

Built on a previously paved-over city maintenance yard and Brownfield site that has been restored to a green landscape, the nearly 3-acre Phipps site supports a new 24,350-square foot structure.

CSL is carbon neutral: CSL will generate power with PV solar panels and vertical axis wind turbines. It employs a range of passive cooling, lighting, and heating methods. It has reflective ceiling material for using daylight to illuminate the interior. Fourteen geothermal wells 500 feet below ground level capture the ground’s consistent 55° F (13° C) temperature and transfer it to the building for heating and cooling.

The CSL captures all the water on site by using rain gardens, a green roof and 60,000 gallon underground rain tanks. The material used for the building was highly localized and green. It treats all water on the site without chemicals and re-uses waste water.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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