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Center for Sustainable Landscapes Opens Tuesday

Blending the old and the new, the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh will officially open one of the world’s most earth-friendly buildings and landscape facilities this week. This photo was taken near the end of construction last May.

Would you believe that the nation’s best example of sustainable landscape leadership is in . . . Pittsburgh?

Setting an unmatched standard for design innovation, the century old Phipps Conservatory officially unveils its breathtakingly imaginative new Center for Sustainable Landscapes this Tuesday, Feb. 12.

Combining state-of-the-world leadership in a variety of components from passive solar, to geothermal heating and cooling, to energy generation and recycling, Phipps accepted the Living Building Challenge issued by International Living Future Institute. When it was completed, the facility exceeded LEED Platinum certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and also met all aspects of Sustainable Sites — the green industry standard for landscapes.

Richard Piacentini, second from left, explains the Phipps design intent to a team from the Glenstone Foundation in Maryland.

“Our goal was not just to meet building standards, but to bring sustainability into everything we do,” executive director Richard Piacentini told SafeLawns during a tour in May of 2012. Remarkably, Piacentini has overseen the multi-million dollar expansion despite some of the nation’s most difficult economic times.

“We’ve remained very committed to doing the right thing and our benefactors have stood by us,” he said.

In addition to ceasing the utilization of synthetic chemical pesticides, the exterior grounds at the newly constructed facility features all non-invasive, native plants which are irrigated exclusively with rainwater. Manufactured wetlands keep turn all the sewage into a useful byproduct; all other water is recycled on-site.

This video details the spirit behind the project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG1srhdIZHk&feature=player_embedded#!. The web site offers numerous details of the program: http://phipps.conservatory.org/project-green-heart/green-heart-at-phipps/center-for-sustainable-landscapes.aspx?

Ultimately, though, nothing replaces visiting the site where the original wooden conservatory spires dating to 1893 now blend seamlessly with 21st century hi-tech innovation.

The original Lord & Burnham conservatory from 1893 still stands as a testament to enduring quality.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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