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The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in PIttsburgh, PA is one of the greenest buildings in the world. But don’t take it from just us – it stands apart in the eyes of many respected green organizations.

meeting the highest green standards

The CSL is the first and only building to meet seven of the highest green certifications! It’s earned certification from the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building standard, and is certified LEED® Platinum. It’s been certified as SITES™ Platinum, WELL Building Platinum, and is a certified BREEAM Outstanding In-Use building. It’s earned a Fitwel 3 Star rating. Last but not least, it has a Zero Energy certification.

net zero energy

The CSL was designed to generate its own energy and achieves net-zero energy status annually. This means it produces more energy than it consumes. Its power comes from photovoltaic solar panels, a wind turbine, and geothermal wells located 500 feet below ground. In its first year of operation, it reduced its energy usage by 68.7% compared to traditionally-designed buildings!

passive temperature regulation & thoughtful lighting

Part of its energy efficiency is passive cooling, heating and lighting methods. Maximum northern and southern exposure, light shelves, and reflective materials means the building can use daylight to naturally illuminate the interior 80% of the time, reducing the need for energy-intensive artificial lighting. High-performance insulation and low-emissivity windows help retain heat during the winter.

multipurpose green roof

The CSL is a net zero water site, thanks to rainwater harvesting on the green roof. Impressively, it retains 85% of annual rainfall, all stored in a 60,000-gallon underground rain tank. And the green roof grows edible plants used for Cafe Phipps!

sustainable materials

Many of the materials used to build the Center have been salvaged or are recycled. The exterior uses wood salvaged from deconstructed western Pennsylvania barns. In the interior, the wood furniture is made from reclaimed and/or FSC-certified wood. 

Old Department of Public Works fuel tanks were converted to store cleaned sanitary water. (It’s a former brownfield site, rehabilitated and restored to be healthy and safe for people, plants and animals.) And during construction, over 96% of construction waste was diverted from landfills!

There are so many other fascinating features to discover about the Center of Sustainable Landscapes, let alone the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens that we haven’t even mentioned. If you’re ever traveling through Pittsburgh, stop by for a visit!

Sources: Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Image courtesy of Phipps Conservatory.


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