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Landscape Center Achieves Green First

Monday, March 23, 2015

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The new Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, PA, has declared itself the first project in the world to achieve four of the world’s highest standards for green building.

The 24,350-square-foot education, research and administration complex announced the achievement of its fourth and most challenging certification, the Living Building Challenge, on March 13. 

Phipps' Center for Sustainable Landscapes
© Denmarsh Photography Inc. via Center for Sustainable Landscapes

The $14.5 million project was designed by The Design Alliance Architects, of Pittsburgh, and landscape architect Andropogon Associates. It features a wide range of green technologies.

Located at the historic Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the facility produces all of its own renewable energy, treats and reuses all water captured on site, and “demonstrates the benefits of humanity living in harmony with nature,” according to project details.

Completed in December 2012, the center houses sustainability research and science-education programs, and serves as a key component of the public garden’s visitor experience.

The project’s three other certifications are:

Operates Like a Flower

The International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge is described as the world’s most rigorous green building standard. Only six other projects have been certified.

In order to meet the challenge—which calls for the creation of a building that operates as efficiently as a flower—a project must meet stringent requirements related to site, health, equity, beauty and materials.

Flower
© Paul G. Wiegman via Center for Sustainable Landscapes

To meet the challenge—which calls for a building that operates as efficiently as a flower—a project must meet stringent requirements related to site, health, equity, beauty and materials.

The project must also prove net-zero energy and water performance over the course of one year, according to Phipps.

“Phipps’ Living Building is one of the most important projects of its kind in the world, demonstrating to the design community and thousands of annual visitors a profound new paradigm for responsible design and construction,” said Jason F. McLennan, CEO, International Living Future Institute.

Other buildings that have met the Living Building Challenge include The Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY, and the Tyson Living Learning Center in Eureka, MO.

Pushing the Green Envelope

The center features a wide range of sustainable technologies, including a green roof; 125kW onsite photovoltaic solar panels; vertical axis wind turbine; 14 geothermal walls; a robust building envelope; and permeable paved surfaces.

Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes
© Denmarsh Photography Inc. via Center for Sustainable Landscapes

The center houses sustainability research and science-education programs, and serves as a key component of the public garden’s visitor experience.

Zero or low-VOC paints, stains and coatings were also used throughout the facility.

Many of the materials used to build the facility were manufactured locally, including locally mined limestone and recycled barn wood.

The $14.5 million project was designed by The Design Alliance Architects, of Pittsburgh, and Andropogon Associates, a Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm. It was constructed by Turner Construction Company.

The Phipps Conservatory, opened in 1893, is a classic example of Victorian architecture. The center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

   

Tagged categories: Architecture; Building design; Certifications and standards; Design; Green building; Landscape architects; Living Building Challenge

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