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evolveEA Helps Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes Achieve Highest LEED Platinum Certification

Pittsburgh, PA — The Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) earned the highest LEED Platinum Certification yet achieved for a new green building. The project systematically demonstrates high performance in site design, water & energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and material conservation and use. The US Green Building Council granted the project 63 of a possible 69 points under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) version 2 rating system. Only one other new building has achieved this level of green building distinction.

The CSL is also seeking designation as the region’s first project to achieve the Living Building Challenge from the International Living Futures Institute, and a four star Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) Certification for landscape design. The CSL aspires to be the first project to achieve all three exacting green building standards.

The CSL serves as an educational and research facility and provides self guided tours to anyone visiting Phipps Conservatory. The facility has a high performance building envelope, efficient HVAC systems, geothermal space conditioning, daylighting and natural ventilation to minimize energy use. A solar PV array and vertical wind turbine produce more renewable energy than the building uses. Natural plant ecosystems recycle more water than the CSL consumes by filtering building waste and rainwater to irrigate plants on the adjacent Phipps Campus. The CSL is flanked by a restorative landscape that includes a roof garden, lagoon, rain gardens and constructed wetlands.

“The CSL is designed to be “living,” giving more back to the environment than it takes.” said Marc Mondor, Principal of evolveEA, Phipps’ sustainability consultant on the project. “The CSL is a model for integrating buildings with their surrounding landscape by creating systems that restore the environment instead of depleting it. The visibility of the systems has a beauty that reinforces the project’s aesthetics.”

Based on a successful long term relationship that has previously achieved LEED Platinum Existing Building Certification for the Phipps Production Greenhouse, evolveEA worked with Phipps to establish the CSL project goals and to select the project team. In order to reinforce the regional nature of sustainability, Pittsburgh- and Pennsylvania-based firms were chosen including: The Design Alliance Architects, CJL Engineering (mechanical, electrical & plumbing engineering), Andropogon Associates (landscape architecture), Civil & Environmental Consultants (civil & water engineering), Atlantic Engineering Services (structural engineering), 7 Group (integrative design consultants & energy modeling), Massaro Corporation (preconstruction cost estimating) and Pitchford Diversified Inc. and H.F. Lenz (commissioning). Energy Independent Solutions designed and constructed the solar and wind power generation systems. Turner Construction was the general contractor with overall responsibility for project construction. evolveEA provided expertise in the sustainable design and construction process, and managed the LEED and Living Building Challenge certifications for Phipps.

By challenging the project team to design and construct one of the greenest buildings in the world, Phipps is demonstrating what is possible—and is inspiring others to do the same.