Over in Oakland, right near Panther Hollow, something new has sprouted under the sun.
“We have enough solar panels right here to power 12 typical American homes and we use all that electricity to run this building,” said Richard Piacentini, the executive director of Phipps Conservatory.
Piacentini is rightfully proud of the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes, one of Earth’s greenest buildings.
He said the move to green construction and energy efficiency it is a natural extension of Phipps’ mission to connect people and nature.
“The more we learned about it the more we said, ‘this makes sense, we care about the environment, why shouldn't our buildings reflect our environment?’” he said.
The center was built with recycled or salvaged material, a principle that's applied everywhere you look, like with the five rain gardens and lagoon system.
“All of the rainwater that comes down the road, instead of going in the sewer, it goes into the rain gardens,” Piacentini explained as he took Channel 11’s Peggy Finnegan on a tour recently.
The water is captured, treated and reused on site from watering plants inside the green house to even the toilets.
The constructed wetlands imitate what happens in nature.
“As water moves through the wetlands, the plants and bacteria growing on the roots of the plants clean the water,” he said
The roof is green too, literally.
“One of the highlights of the building is the rooftop garden. It provides year-round benefits, helping to heat and cool the building. And all these plants are native to Pennsylvania so they need very little care,” he said.
The Center meets or exceeds the three highest green standards in architecture and landscaping.
Tours are offered Thursday-Sunday and are free with your Phipps admission.
This facility is expected to meet or exceed the world’s three highest green standards: The Living Building Challenge, Four-Stars Sustainable Sites Initiative and LEED Platinum.
They’ve already met the Four-Stars Sustainable Sites Initiative and LEED Platinum.
If they meet all three, and they’re expected to do so, they will be the only building in the world to have attempted all three of the highest standards.
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