|Known fondly as "The Green Heart of Pittsburgh," the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a nonprofit, 14-room glasshouse public garden originally built in 1893. In 2005, the new $5 million, 11,454 sf Phipps Welcome Center was sited partially underground as an energy-conserving earth-sheltered structure. Its front entrance walkway slopes gently down to the 14 ft below-grade main level; the structure is the first LEED? certified visitor center in a public garden (LEED-NC Silver, 2006). "A 34-foot high glass dome crowns the Welcome Center, evoking the geometry of the historic glass houses. This splendid, fritted-glass dome above a central atrium solves the need for natural light, which illuminates the lobby, ticketing areas, gift shop and caf?, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting," (website).|
In 2006, the Phipps Tropical Forest Conservatory was constructed to house tropical flora, two waterfalls, a canopy-layer walkway, public gathering spaces and educational discovery areas. The current project is the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a $2.6 million education, research and administration building. This signature project of Phase III of Phipps? multiyear expansion is designed to exceed LEED Platinum standards; it will inlcude greenroof trial gardens and generate its own energy with renewable resources. In 2008, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens received first-place in eco-structure?s inaugural Evergreen Awards? ?ecommercial? category.
|The design of the Welcome Center is saving up to 40% in energy costs, 22% over the required level for Silver-LEED certification. "A wall of laminated, insulated windows runs the length of the concave courtyard and controls glare and heat. Low- or no-VOC paints complement the sustainable products. To increase passive energy savings, the glass dome is vented to help cool the building. Air conditioning is only required below grade level. A green roof surrounding the glass dome provides a heat sink to enhance the building?s efficient climate control system," (AIArchitect This Week, 2006).|
"Phipps has become one of the world's most energy efficient and sustainable conservatories, serving as a model for visitors and other public gardens. Green building design couple with sustainable operations and practices to create an environment committed to conservation and biodiversity," (website, see below).
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|The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is located at One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; 412.622.6914. Learn more about their sustainable buildings and practices here, and download the "Phipps? LEED?-certified Welcome Center" PDF. Read the: August 3, 2009 G-20 opening reception, working dinner at Phipps Conservatory Sept. 24 by Bonnie Pfister; Fall 2008 Living Building by Jeffrey Fraser in h magazine (this has a great Living Machine graphic of the site); October, 2008 New Window To The World by KJ Fields in eco-structure magazine; and the November 10, 2006 Growing Green at Conservatory, Botanical Garden Welcome Center by Tracy Ostroff in AIArchitect this Week.|
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