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Environment & Energy

New Book Documents Construction of Phipps 'Living Building'

Noah Brode/90.5 WESA

Phipps Conservatory is celebrating the release of a book that details the construction of its new Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a $23.5 million facility that produces all of its own water and energy.

Called "Building in Bloom," the book by Mary Adam Thomas is the first of a series commissioned by the Living Future Institute, an Oregon company that administers the ultra-green Living Building Challenge certification program for structures.

Phipps executive director Richard Piacentini said he thinks of the manuscript as a confirmation that the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, which started housing employees in December and opened to the public in February, is a flagship facility of the Living Building Challenge.

"This definitely signifies that this is a really important project, not only for Pittsburgh and our region, but also for the world," Piacentini said.

He said the text is designed to be accessible for the general public.

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes captures rainwater and processes it for all of its own needs, even producing enough extra to water the conservatory's gardens. The facility also creates its own energy with solar panels, a wind turbine and geothermal wells, featuring a green ventilation system to minimize usage.

The book is available for purchase in the Phipps gift shop or online for $36.95.