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Additional Resources

Visit the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens website and their Production Greenhouse page; download the Green Healthy Spaces: A Summary of Sustainable Efforts at Phipps (PDF).

Learn about American Hydrotech in The Directory.

Case Studies

American Hydrotech; LEED BD+C: New Construction v2 – LEED 2.0 Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden profile from the U.S. Green Building Council.


2020 A New Beginning (1993 – Present) within The Story of Phipps at Phipps; September 24, 2018 Phipps Conservatory a Nationally Recognized Leader in Sustainability by Doug Oster in everybody gardens.

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 cafe, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting.” Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 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 include 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 Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 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).

“The green roof also helps to minimize stormwater runoff that would otherwise drain into the city’s municipal treatment system. The roof is planted with sustainable plants and drought-resistant endophytic grasses that are irrigated solely with rainwater and managed organically, meaning that no harmful chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used. Many of the low-maintenance plants showcased in this area are part of Phipps’ Top 10 Sustainable Plants program, which highlights varieties selected annually for their non-invasive habits, resistance to disease and insects, and minimal water requirements. These demonstration gardens introduce visitors to the concept of using sustainable plants for ornamental purposes, providing plenty of inspiration for home landscaping efforts. More than a dozen local nurseries sell our Top 10 Sustainable Plants each year, helping us educate consumers about eco-friendly options. Interpretive signage demonstrating the benefits of the green roof, as well tips for what visitors can do at home to help the environment, enhance the educational value of this feature.All of these efforts stem from the Welcome Center and work together to show the public that going green can be beautiful.

Educational opportunities are also augmented by signage inside the structure, and guided tours focused on its cutting-edge sustainable features, as well as our other facility spaces, are available to guests.” ~ Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden LEED Profile from USGBC

“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).

See the numerous certifications and awards of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Welcome Center or The Green Heart of Pittsburgh in Green Healthy Spaces: A Summary of Sustainable Efforts at Phipps.

See the Phipps Conservatory Production Greenhouse Living Walls project profile in The Projects Database.


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