Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Center for Sustainable Landscapes


Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens


The Design Alliance


Pittsburgh, PA

CEC Services

  • Topography, Utility, and Surficial Features Surveys
  • Geotechnical Investigations
  • Preliminary and Final Civil Engineering
  • Preparation of Construction Documents
  • Environmental Assessment & Remediation
  • Stormwater Recovery, Treatment, and Reuse
  • Green Infrastructure Performance Monitoring

Project Dates


Owner Objective

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, in a continuing effort to advance their mission of sustainability, had a goal of designing a new center for education, research and administrative operations that would meet the requirements of the groundbreaking green building certification program, the Living Building Challenge.

CEC Approach

CEC joined a multidisciplinary team of regional design professionals from Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania and led final development of the strategy that addressed the requirements of the water performance area and its two imperatives: net-zero water and sustainable water discharge. CEC performed full topographic and utility surveys; Phase I ESAs including underground tank investigations; geotechnical engineering for slope, wall and foundation analysis; and site civil engineering including grading, stormwater collection and management, sanitary treatment and reuse system design, water distribution design, and green infrastructure performance monitoring system design and installation. Green roof stormwater monitoring indicated 87% annual reduction in roof runoff, and rain garden monitoring demonstrated 100% capture of stormwater (no discharge).

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) is the first and only project to attain the planet’s four highest sustainable building certifications:

  • Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building standard
  • LEED® Platinum—tied for the highest points awarded under version 2.2
  • First and only Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative™ for landscapes project (pilot)
  • First and only WELL Building Platinum project (pilot)

The CSL has received a number of national and regional awards, including:

  • 2013 Global Best Projects Award (Green Project category)—Engineering News-Record
  • 2013 Design & Build Award (Comm./Instit. category)—Forest Stewardship Council
  • 2013 Project of the Year (Sustainable category)—Engineers’ Society of Western PA