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Environment & Energy

Phipps 'Living Building' Will Open to Public in February

Visitors will soon be able to mosey about in one of the greenest buildings in the world, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory.

Starting February 12, general admission will include access to the research and education facility situated behind Phipps' glasshouse gardens. Any Phipps visitor will be able to simply walk about and read up on the building's environmentally-friendly features.

The CSL was built to achieve the highest status of the "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) green building certification, while using the greenest construction practices possible. It's also expected to meet the rigorous requirements of the Living Building Challenge, in which a structure must provide all of its own electricity and water.

The facility, which houses offices and classrooms, produces its own energy with solar panels, geothermal wells, and a wind turbine. It also has a self-contained garden system that captures rainwater, treats it, and recycles it to water the conservancy's plants.

"We'll have a central atrium area that will have a lot of interpretive materials to explain how the building works and how we are achieving some of these really high goals, such as net zero energy and net zero water," said Phipps Executive Director Richard Piacentini.

It cost Phipps $23.5 million to build the Center for Sustainable Landscapes and sculpt its grounds. The building's summer opening was delayed for several months, but Piacentini said staff moved into the offices in December.

In addition to the classroom and informational signs throughout the CSL, the building will also feature a "Green Gallery" on the first floor to display photography and art exhibits.