Policy roundtable: Committee talks green construction and innovation

State representatives experience hands-on view of green facilities

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 6 – The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens provided members of the PA House Democratic Policy Committee with a hands-on tour and discussion on the process needed and work being done to make this historic landmark a green facility designed with an emphasis on reducing harm – including energy efficient conservatories.

“The Phipps Conservatory is an impressive resource for the entire region and state, featuring a tropical forest and indoor gardens as well as resources to educate visitors on cultural topics,” tour and roundtable co-host state Rep. Mandy Steele said. “One of the most impressive spots on the grounds remains the important work being done at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, where the energy needed for the building is produced on-site and water is reused in an environmentally sustainable setting.”

Constructed in 1893, the gardens were a gift to the city by Pittsburgh steel magnate Henry Phipps. Located in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is city-owned but managed by a nonprofit organization. The National Register of Historic Places added the conservatory in 1976.

“I’m always proud to introduce colleagues and friends to some of the great resources located in the heart of my legislative district,” co-host Rep. Dan Frankel said. “Phipps has been a leader in green innovation, opting to make changes 20 years ago that some organizations and businesses are finally accepting today, including the creation of three of the greenest buildings in the world.”  

Phipps switched to 100% renewable electricity campus-wide in 2005. Richard V. Piacentini, the Phipps Conservatory president and CEO, provided a presentation covering the history of the conservatory, green innovation and continued work onsite. He explained not only how Phipps built three zero-energy buildings but also adopted zero water – where the site captures and treats all the stormwater and sanitary water onsite. The Center for Sustainable Landscapes is the first and only building to meet seven of the highest green certifications, and it is one of the most green buildings in the world.

“To see a sustainable and green project on this level is impressive,” Policy Committee Chairman Ryan Bizzarro said. “Pittsburgh has been known for its energy and industrial production for well over a century, so it’s fitting to see an organization embrace what some might term next-generation green technology and sustainability on such a grand scale right here in the city.”

More information on the Policy Committee is at pahouse.com/policy. Photos of the tour and roundtable will be available for publication at https://pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee/Galleries.