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$20M Center for Sustainable Landscapes to become one of world’s greenest buildings

One of the world’s greenest buildings will break ground Sept. 18 at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

The organization’s $20 million Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a living building that will house education, research and administration facilities, is part of Phipps’ multi-year expansion. Last week, Phipps received $2.5 million from the Heinz Endowments to support the project.

To qualify as a living building—according to a 2006 challenge issued 2006 by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Cascadia Chapter —the center must be a zero net energy structure that generates its own energy with renewable resources and captures and treats all water on site. Phipps expects the structure to exceed LEED Platinum certification, the green building industry’s highest ranking.

“It’ll be one of the world’s first living buildings. There are very strict requirements about our carbon footprint. We cannot use any PVC,” says Richard Piacentini, with Phipps. “There's so much talent here. We wanted a building designed and built by people in Pittsburgh.”

In selecting primary architects and engineers for the project, Phipps limited its RFP to Pittsburgh-based firms. Along with lead architects The Design Alliance, the project team includes the Green Building Alliance, Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics and Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Showcasing local innovation, Phipps pulled in the expertise of sustainable design and construction leaders from throughout the region and state.

In 2006, the Victorian glasshouse, garden and tropic forest conservatory made green building history when it unveiled the first LEED-certified visitor center in a public garden and the planet’s most energy-efficient conservatory.

A Sept. 18 ground breaking with Heinz Endowments Chair Teresa Heinz will start at 10:30 a.m.

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Writer: Jennifer Baron
Sources: Richard Piacentini, executive director and Jessica Romano, communications coordinator, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Image courtesy Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
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