Structure is up for three sustainability accreditations

February 21, 2013
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The new offices of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Oakland, Pennsylvania, has opened with great celebration. The new Center for Sustainable Landscapes is expected to be one of the greenest structures currently in the United States.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that this structure is the only one to go for three of the world’s greatest environmental standards: the Living Building Challenge, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Certification and the Sustainable Sites Initiative certification.

“We want people to come and see what this building is all about, to see how to make offices that meet the highest level of achievement in environmental sustainability – and to get excited about it,” said Richard Piacentini, Phipps’ longtime executive director, according to the news source.

The building was opened to the public on February 12, 2013. The $15 million center was built within two years. According to published reports, the structure looks similar to many of the commercial facilities within the area. The modern look with a glassed-in atrium and offices are nothing that seem to indicate the sheer sustainability of the building.

However, many of the greatest technologies incorporated into the building are unable to be seen by the average person.

“Some of the things you can’t see,” said Susan Golomb, chairwoman of the Phipps board, according to the news source. “the feeling [inside the building] is light because of the natural daylight and openness. Most importantly, no forests were destroyed to construct the building.”

Agencies and organizations across the United States are working toward the incorporation of green energy technologies in commercial buildings. Groups based out of Philadelphia are especially successful in supporting green construction efforts. For example, like the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) based out of Philadelphia are trying to promote the adoption of sustainable construction efforts and the incorporation of energy-efficient materials and technologies.

In the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes alone there is a wall of plants to improve air quality, geothermal wells in all offices and spaces for greater temperature control and efficiency, high R-value windows and lots of portals for natural light.

The center is expected to act as an educational opportunity. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the facility will be open to self-guided tours with the price of Phipps’ admission, which ranges from $15 for adults to free for children under the age of two.