LEED Silver Welcome Center image from Phipps Conservatory’s Tree-Free Media Resources

This week saw the grand opening of one of the greenest buildings in the world right here in Pittsburgh. On May 23rd, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens celebrated the opening of their Center for Sustainable Landscapes. According to Phipps:

Phipps’ dynamic new center for education, research and administration will generate all of its own energy and capture and treat all of its own water on site, meeting or exceeding the three highest green standards: the Living Building Challenge; LEED® Platinum and SITES Certification for landscapes.

Living Buildings seek to attain the most advanced level of sustainability and to meet top performance in seven areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. It will take a full year of monitoring to know if the building has met this highest of standards. The building will have zero net energy and water usage. From an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

In fact, the building will be off the utility grid with on-site lagoons and wetlands to process rainwater and sewage with a design that reduces energy usage by 80 percent by using passive energy systems, ventilation, a native-plant garden on the roof, with open space offices and large, naturally lit atria.

Dedication of Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes image from Bill Peduto’s Twitter feed

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes will be open to the public in July. One unique feature is cut-away sections in the walls which will help visitors to understand the uncommon construction of this building. In the meantime, the curious can view a slide show of photos of the building here courtesy of Pop City.

In the following video, Molly Steinwald, Phipps Conservatory’s director for science education, explains more about the Living Building Challenge: