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Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes

Last certified on:
Certification level: Platinum

Project info

Size21,892 sq ft
The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) is a 24,350-square-foot education, research and administration facility within a 2.9 acre landscape that is part of a non-profit, public garden. Here, the future of green lies in the intersection among people, plants, health, and beauty. As evidence of its incredible commitment to sustainability this project not only achieved LEED Platinum certification, it also received high honors from three preeminent green standards: The Living Building Challenge™, WELL Platinum Certification™, and Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) Four-Star certification. It aims to blur the line between natural and built environments and demonstrate the beauty of living in harmony with nature. The design team constructed a fully-integrated landscape and building. The result is an unprecedented model of systems-based design, a research platform and a compelling educational showcase for 400,000-plus annual visitors. The site was a brownfield that suffered decades of environmental devastation during its use as a city fueling depot. The design team created completely new landscape comprised of indigenous plants. Today, the steep terrain is ADA-compliant. Visitors observe 150+ species of native plants showcasing several plant communities, strategically placed to reflect environmental adaptations and that provide food and habitat to wildlife. A 4,000 square foot lagoon, fed by roof runoff, contains native fish and turtles and is bordered by an FSC-certified oak boardwalk. Visitors can witness the beauty of native plants and see wildlife that the regenerative landscape is designed to preserve and protect. The project is net-zero water, managing all storm and sanitary water. It has managed a 10-year storm through vegetation-based systems, including green roofs, rain gardens and bioswales . No potable water is used for irrigation since the landscape’s establishment period. Annually, approximately 500,000 gallons of rooftop runoff offset the conservatory’s irrigation demand. Sanitary water is treated using constructed wetlands and sand filters and reused as flush water, while excess water is redirected to a unit that uses solar energy to distill the water for use in watering orchids. The project invites exploration and showcases sustainable landscaping to a broad audience, including many who are encountering these concepts for the first time. Programs emphasize sustainable practices like urban gardening, and outdoor learning spaces connect children to nature, fostering future environmental stewardship. Partnerships with universities have led to collaborative projects investigating topics including brownfield restoration and the psychological benefits of human contact with nature. The project is a high-performance and beautiful landscape; a living laboratory to inform the design of other sites through published research and exemplary performance.