by Karrah Beck

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA is a remarkable building—setting a much-needed example of how modern technology can help save the environment.

The Center was constructed with the intention of satisfying the Living Building Challenge and becoming a net zero energy space. Through Phipps’ implementation of cutting edge turbines, geothermal energy generators, and more, the building impacts the environment and earth “as much as a flower” (Phipps Conservatory 2012). The center also generates its own energy, and produces more than it actually uses, thus benefiting the outer urban areas as well as itself.

Phipps has managed to save energy in a multitude of ways, including: 1) superior insulation: this building saves on both heating and cooling, by “reducing winter heat losses and summer heat gains” (exact Phipps phrasing here taken from the webpage linked at the end of this post) and 2) an installed geothermal HVAC system stores heat in the summer for later use in the colder months and also integrates with the roof to dehumidify and manage the temperature of the entire building (Phipps Conservatory 2012).

This building also has a significant education component and the Phipps Conservatory has already consented to university students having classes at the center and allowing them to study its renewable energy processes. Indeed, this building was intended to set a living example of green energy usage for the rest of the world as we all struggle to become more sustainable.

The Phipps Conservatory, now in its 120th year, really showcases superior innovation, but in a way that is also simple enough that it can serve as a reasonable example for masses of people to follow and emulate. The Phipps Conservatory has stated clearly that the Center for Sustainable Landscapes stands as an example of future green technology. In other words, this structure is far from just something to look at: it really stands as a reminder that this is just the beginning of a future of responsible efficiency and renewable energy ingenuity.

Photo by Alexander Denmarsh Photography.


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Image from: architizer.