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Phipps Conservatory Exhibit Staging Center
Project Type:
Exhibit Staging Center, Museum
Project Location:
1 Schenley Drive
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
Performance Metrics:
Rainwater Managed: 
Climate Zone: 
Awards and Acknowledgements:
International Living Futures Institute:
2019 Living Building Challenge
International WELL Building Institute:
2019 Well Platinum
2019 LEED Platinum
Design Features:
Net Zero Water, Net Zero Energy, Living Building Challenge, Solar Energy, Photovoltaics, LED Lighting, Biophilia, Coreten Steel, Air Quality Sensors, Green Roof, Living Wall
Project Summary:
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens continues to lead the charge in innovative sustainable building design and construction with its newest project, the Exhibit Staging Center (ESC). Formerly an old public works building site, the ESC showcases the latest advancements in green building technology, transforming a dilapidated space on a former brownfield site into a safe, healthy environment for people, plants and animals.

A green building, at its core, is a construction project that is designed, built and managed with the following environmental considerations in mind: to reduce energy use, provide cleaner air and reduce water consumption while improving indoor environmental quality, materials selection and the building’s overall impact on its surroundings; however, the underlying principles behind the construction of a green building go far deeper than this, as the ultimate goal behind green construction is to have a positive impact on both the health of people who inhabit the building and the surrounding environment.

The ESC marks the debut of a first-of-its-kind green building nexus at Phipps, including new, modular and existing projects on a single site, serving as a real-world model and inspiration to guests from around the world. Originally constructed as a flat, block warehouse with no windows, Phipps has redesigned a former City of Pittsburgh public works building on its lower site to enhance the health and wellness of staff members who use the space. Labor workers and grounds crew are the primary occupants of this building, a group whose well-being can be often overlooked. The ESC also provides an exclusive behind-the-scenes view of Phipps’ prop creation and displays, where guests can see signature historic shows and exhibit props and displays, as well as future flower show plans in the making.

Additionally, all water that falls onsite is captured and treated, making it a net-zero water facility. The lagoon adjacent to the ESC is used to store rainwater and replicate the natural treatment processes of marshes and wetlands on site, with chemical-free sanitary water recycled and treated through a constructed wetland that uses natural plants and microbes, as well as sand filters and UV lights.

The building will produce all of the energy that it uses in a year, generated through geothermal wells and photovoltaic solar panels. Using geothermal wells buried into the ground, the building is able to efficiently heat and cool the building by harnessing the natural energy from the earth’s consistent 55-degree internal temperature. The roof of the ESC is home to photovoltaic solar panels, which capture the sun’s energy to convert to electricity. To avoid energy waste, a battery stores power and can be used to power the facility. To minimize the use of harsh overhead lights, windows are placed amply and strategically around the building for the use of daylighting. NanaWalls are also used to increase sunlight and air flow on warm days.

The fact that the ESC produces all of its own energy is another example of Phipps’ commitment to addressing climate change. Most traditional structures rely on fossil fuels to power heating and cooling mechanisms and supply electricity. This type of energy use is the single biggest contributor to global warming and accounts for about two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions attributed to human activity. By producing all of its own energy through renewable processes, the ESC is able to significantly reduce its own carbon footprint.

(Source: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens)
Tapestry Statistics:
2019-07-23 22:20:05
2019-07-24 02:46:11
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Design and Construction Team:
General Contractor
Common Ground
Shepley Bulfinch
Biophilic Consultant
Karl Steinmetz Designs
Yoga Court Design
Building Performance Architecture
Building Envelope Commissioning
CJL Engineering
Mechanical Equipment Commissioning
Design Charette Facilitation
Fabricators and Manufacturers:
Metal Studs
Installed Products:
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Rob Larson Photography
Rob Larson Photography
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens