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Is this one of the world’s greenest buildings?


Pittsburgh-based Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, has opened the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), said to be one of the world’s greenest buildings.

Completed in late 2012, the new 24,350-­square-­foot structure is the first building project to pursue all three of the highest green architecture and landscape standards: the Living Building Challenge SM, LEED® Platinum and Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) certification. A model of sustainability for architects, scientists, planners and anyone interested in living greener, this new building was designed to mimic nature and function as elegantly and efficiently as a flower.

Built to achieve net-­zero energy consumption, the facility produces all of its own renewable power on site with the aid of solar panels, geothermal wells and a wind turbine, as well as takes advantage of passive cooling, heating and lighting methods. It will also treat and reuse all blackwater and stormwater captured on site, greatly reducing impact on municipal sewage treatment and energy-intensive potable water systems. Designed and constructed with local talent and mostly U.S.-made materials, the CSL is a triumph of responsibly sourced, environmentally friendly, and healthy materials and practices. From its recycled structural steel and salvaged wood siding to its regionally sourced plants, the CSL is a prime example of sustainable and intelligent building technologies.

The CSL is designed to interact with its surroundings as a vital part of its daily operation. As one of a small number of global SITES™ pilot projects, it features a restorative landscape, highlighting native plants and a permaculture demonstration rooftop garden. Other site features include a stormwater lagoon, a solar powered water distillation system, five rain gardens, porous paving, and constructed wetlands that will use plants and natural processes to clean wastewater.

Inside of the CSL and in the demonstration gardens, Phipps will conduct and share the results of research aimed at transforming the way that people relate to nature while serving as an environmental education center that community members can visit. Interpretive signage and an interactive kiosk will greet visitors and guide their exploration of the facility’s inner-­workings; a Green Gallery on the first floor offers changing photography and art exhibits; and a classroom will serve as the site for Phipps’ programmess for children, which are focused on topics like ecology, science, art and healthy living. Guests will also be invited to explore the outdoor environs, which include meandering paths, a boardwalk, a hillside amphitheater, a serene fountain, thriving wildlife habitat, and scenic panoramas of both natural areas and urban cityscapes.

Images courtesy of Paul G Wiegman and Denmarsh Photography

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May 29, 2013 | Property | View comments

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