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Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Helping Deepen the Green Heart of Pittsburgh

Following the best available environmental practices is part of the mission of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The Conservatory, a regional treasure, has taken a national leadership role in the environmental design of its facilities with the completion of what is likely the most energy efficient greenhouse in the world. evolveEA is working closely with Phipps to extend its visionary efforts by assisting in the greening of existing buildings (including the iconic 1893 glass house) and with the design and construction of the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes. This is be an unprecedented net zero energy water and waste building and pilot project for the Living Building Challenge rating system.

 

Buildings in Operation

On the Phipps campus, evolveEA managed the LEED EBOM (LEED for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance) process to achieve operational performance goals such as reducing energy usage, installation of appropriate measurement and verification submetering equipment, identification of opportunities to improve efficiency, re-organizing and re-systematizing Phipps Green Team initiatives, improving organizational procurement practices, and optimizing waste reduction strategies.

The Phipps Production Greenhouse earned for LEED-Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance Platinum Certification; illustrating the potential for our existing buildings to play an important role in reducing environmental impacts. The Platinum rating, USGBC’s highest, is notable because the conservatory has become a member of an elite group of buildings across the country. The Conservatory is also the first botanical garden in the nation to use LEED-EBOM to comprehensively improve the building’s Operations and Maintenance.

The Certification represents the culmination of a multiyear effort to fully integrate sustainable operations within the Phipps organization. The campus in Schenley park contains some of the most technologically advanced green building systems, tools to monitor them, and comprehensive green operations and maintenance practices in the region. As part of this effort, evolveEA guided the project team to:

  • Conduct a historical and peer group energy benchmarking study to better understand the relative efficiency and unique operating characteristics found across the country’s greenhouses.
  • Install campus wide energy and water monitoring equipment which allows for real time monitoring of resource usage in each campus building,
  • Commission and audit all of the buildings on campus to ensure they were operating efficiently and effectively,
  • Instill organizational goals to toward achieving a zero waste, and environmentally sensitive campus and culture.

As a result:

  • The storm-water falling on the production greenhouse is used as a water-source for the CSL
  • The campus now closely monitors and adjusts campus watering usage to minimize impacts during dry spells
  • The Production Greenhouse operates 33% more efficiently than other similar glass production greenhouses
  • Auditing, monitoring and automatic controls ensure the Production Greenhouse is optimally heated and cooled, and can take advantage of natural ventilation
  • Phipps Conservatory recycles over 80% of all waste generated on campus
  • Phipps utilizes integrated pest management best practices to ensure harmful chemicals are used sparingly if at all.

Phipps is widely known as a national leader for their commitment to green building design and construction; however; perhaps lesser known but equally important, Phipps in collaboration with evolveEA, has also become a national example of what is possible for a truly green organization.

Sustainable Strategies

Since early 2007, evolveEA assisted with the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) project by collaboratively developing a Project Statement that helped define the project issues, parameters and process. evolveEA then led and assisted the project team selection process, and have been an active part of the project since its inception.

Phipps opened the 24,500 sf Center for Sustainable Landscapes in 2012. In its pursuit of becoming the conservatory with the world’s highest green standards, this new building was designed and built with the goal of receiving a Living Building Challenge certification, a LEED Platinum certification and a four star certification in the new SITES landscape rating system. The design treats stormwater in a lagoon, treats sewage in a constructed wetland, has a geothermal well field, extensive photovoltaic arrays, and was designed as a living, net zero energy building. The entire design and construction team is from Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. evolveEA is managing the Living Building Challenge certification and also managed the LEED certification process for the project, helping the CSL to achieve the highest possible LEED score for a new construction project with LEED Platinum certification.