Dedicated to the people who make our built environment better and safer. We tell your stories and celebrate your successes.

Register with us and receive industry news and content only available to subscribers.



Indianapolis, IN, USA (HQ)

903 E. Ohio St., Indianapolis, IN 46202

Call: (317)423-2325

Phipps Conservatory Opens Exhibit Staging Center, Setting New Standard in Green Buildings

PITTSBURGH, PA — Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens continues to lead in sustainable building design and construction with the unveiling of the Exhibit Staging Center (ESC). Formerly an old public works building, the ESC showcases the latest advancements in green building technology on an existing site, transforming a space on a former brownfield into a safe, healthy environment for people, plants and animals.

Over 500 people attended the opening of the ESC and were among the first to tour the facility at the Big Green Block Party event. Steven Massaro and son Joseph Massaro, Jeff Davis, Karl Steinmetz, Cathy Fitzgerald, Majestic Lane, Walter Burlack, Ryan Martin, Erica Cochran and Phipps President and CEO Richard Piacentini participated in the ESC’s ribbon cutting ceremony during the honorary event.

ESC project partners included FortyEighty Architecture, Common Ground, Iams Consulting, LLC, Studio Phipps, Massaro Corporation, Shepley Bulfinch, Karl Steinmetz Designs, Building Performance Architecture, CJL Engineering and 7group.

Phipps committed to adaptive re-use of the ESC’s space with the goal of achieving three building standard certifications: International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum and WELL Platinum. Upon successful completion of Living Building Challenge’s one-year performance period, Phipps will have three Living and Petal Certified Buildings on its site.

“The Exhibit Staging Center demonstrates that the greenest, healthiest buildings can be ones that already exist, transforming an old cinderblock building into one of groundbreaking sustainability,” Piacentini said. “The building will not have a heating, cooling, electricity or sewer bill and, most importantly, will improve the health and well-being of our maintenance staff who work in and guests who visit here.”

The Exhibit Staging Center introduces a first-of-its-kind nexus of green buildings at Phipps, featuring three different types of construction — new (Center for Sustainable Landscapes), modular (Nature Lab) and existing (ESC) buildings. Additional features of the ESC include a yoga studio and fitness center.

ESC Sustainable Highlights

  • The facility is designed to generate all of the energy it uses each year and capture and manage all stormwater that falls onsite.
  • With geothermal wells buried into the ground, the building is able to efficiently heat and cool the facility by harnessing the natural energy from the earth’s internal temperature.
  • The roof of the ESC is home to photovoltaic solar panels, which capture the sun’s energy to convert to electricity.
  • The ESC uses direct current electricity from solar panels and batteries to power all of the lights in the building. The entire lighting system for this building could run on a single 20-amp circuit.
  • The lagoon adjacent to the ESC is used to store rainwater and replicate the natural treatment processes of marshes and wetlands on site.
  • Chemical-free sanitary water is recycled and treated through a constructed wetland that uses natural plants and microbes, as well as sand filters and UV lights.
  • A green roof over the ESC’s vestibule helps manage stormwater.