Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes Achieves Living Building Challenge Certification


Foreground: Center for Sustainable Landscapes – © Denmarsh Photography

Pittsburgh, Pa. — A 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.

One of Earth’s greenest structures becomes the first project anywhere to obtain all four of the world’s highest sustainable building standards

The CSL is the first and only project to attain the planet’s 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. “With the achievement of the Living Building Challenge, we look forward to continuing our journey to discover new ways of living in harmony with nature.”

“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.

About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa. is a green leader among public gardens with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Learn more:

About the International Living Future Institute: International Living Future Institute is an environmental NGO committed to catalyzing the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. Composed of leading green building experts and thought-leaders, the Institute is premised on the belief that providing a compelling vision for the future is a fundamental requirement for reconciling humanity’s relationship with the natural world. The Institute also runs the Cascadia Green Building Council, Ecotone Press, Declare, JUST and other leading-edge programs. A global network of more than 350 volunteers across nearly 30 countries drive the local adoption of restorative principles in their communities. About the

Living Building Challenge: The Institute operates the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous building performance standard. The Challenge is a philosophy, an advocacy tool and a certification program. Launched in 2006, more than 250 projects (totaling over 9 million square feet of space) are currently registered for the Challenge. The Living Building Challenge fosters buildings that produce more energy than they consume, avoid known toxins and harmful chemicals, and collect and reuse their own water.


Original press release here.

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