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Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes Achieves Living Building Challenge Certification

Phipps CSL is the first project anywhere to obtain all four of the world's highest sustainable building standards

Phipps Center for Sustainable LandscapesA world leader in sustainable innovation, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has achieved the Living Building Challenge™ for its Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), a facility that houses groundbreaking sustainability research and science education programs, and serves as a key part of the public garden’s immersive visitor experience. In producing all of its own renewable energy, and treating and reusing all water captured on site, the CSL demonstrates the benefits of humanity living in harmony with nature.

evolveEA managed the LEED and Living Building Challenge certification processes for the CSL project and is proud to have worked with the Phipps team as sustainability consultants on a number of green building projects at the Phipps campus in Pittsburgh. Part of our strategic consulting work with Phipps was to help instill organizational goals like achieving a zero waste, and environmentally sensitive campus and culture.

Now, about eight years after kicking off our engagement with Phipps, the CSL is the first and only project to attain the planet’s four highest sustainable building certifications:

  • Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building standard
  • LEED® Platinum — tied for the highest points awarded under version 2.2
  • First and only Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES™) for landscapes project (pilot)
  • First and only WELL Building Platinum project (pilot)

In order to meet the Living Building Challenge of the International Living Future Institute™, which calls for the creation of buildings that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as a flower, projects must meet stringent requirements related to site, health, equity, beauty and materials, and prove net-zero energy and water performance over the course of one year.

 CSL Features

  • A former brownfield site that has been transformed into a restorative landscape with native plants and a green roof for visitors to explore
  • 125 kW onsite photovoltaic solar panels, vertical axis wind turbine, and 14 geothermal wells
  • Passive-first strategies for natural ventilation, daylighting and minimal energy use
  • Cisterns, a lagoon, rain gardens and constructed wetlands treat all storm and sanitary water
  • Biophilic art and designs that celebrate humans’ innate connections to nature

“With the CSL, we see opportunities to push the envelope even further when it comes to sustainable design and operations — to share what we have learned about how our buildings can impact the health of the planet and people for generations to come,” says Phipps Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini.

“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,” says Jason F. McLennan, CEO, International Living Future Institute.

evolveEA Principal Marc Mondor has called the Center for Sustainable Landscapes “…a model for integrating buildings with their surrounding landscape by creating systems that restore the environment instead of depleting it.” We are truly inspired by this project, which reflects Pittsburgh’s remarkable transformation into a 21st century hub for sustainable innovation.

Learn more about our work with Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens >

More from evolveEA about the Living Building Challenge >