Center for Sustainable Landscapes Achieves SITES Platinum Certification

by Richard V. Piacentini, President and CEO, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The sustainable landscape at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps showcases renewable energy technologies, conservation strategies, water treatment, and sustainable landscapes to an audience of nearly half a million visitors every year. / image: Denmarsh Photography, Inc.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) is the first project worldwide to be certified at the Platinum level under the Sustainable SITES Initiative® (SITES®) v2 Rating System.

Previously certified as a Four-Star project through the pilot version of SITES in 2013, the CSL is a 24,350-square-foot education, research, and administration facility on a 2.9-acre landscape. Recognized as one of the greenest projects in the world, the building is located on the campus of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is net-zero energy and net-zero water, producing all of its energy renewably and managing all storm and sanitary on-site. In addition to SITES, the CSL has also met three of the highest green building standards: The Living Building Challenge™, LEED® Platinum, and WELL™ Platinum certification (a rating system designed to advance health and well-being in buildings). We decided to pursue certification under SITES v2 to make sure that we were still focused on and promoting the highest level of sustainability related to the landscape.

Utilized daily as Phipps’ education, research, and administration hub, the CSL serves to increase awareness of the interconnection between people, nature, and the built environment, and to promote sustainable systems thinking. With a design that seamlessly integrates into the guest experience at Phipps—a 125-year-old institution with nearly 500,000 annual visitors—the CSL is uniquely positioned to showcase renewable energy technologies, conservation strategies, water treatment, and sustainable landscapes to a broad audience.

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