First public municipal building earns Living Building Challenge Certification

Pittsburgh’s Frick Environmental Center achieved the Living Building Challenge Certification as the first municipal building free and open to the public to be certified in the United States. It is one of only 21 buildings worldwide to earn this recognition.

The LBC certification came after more than a year of extensive sustainability work shared between the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh. The LBC designation by the International Living Future Institute is considered to be one of the most rigorous proven performance standards in the world.

The Frick Environmental Center is the first Living Building in the U.S. that is municipally owned and free and open to the public.  To qualify, the Environmental Center must produce as much energy as it consumes annually, eliminates toxic and harmful chemicals, and collect and treat its own water.

Click on the photos below.

The nonprofit Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy partnered with the City of Pittsburgh, architect Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, landscape architect LaQuatra Bonci Associates, and construction manager P.J. Dick Incorporated to make this “net zero” energy and water facility a reality.

“What a great accomplishment for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City, said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “Together, we are continuing our leadership in green building standards and environmental education for all.”

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy President and CEO Jayne Miller said, “We are proud to have one of the greenest buildings in the world that also functions as a tremendous resource for our community. It is truly a regional treasure.”

The 16,000 square-foot Frick Environmental Center, which is located on the edge of the 644-acre Frick Park, was completed in 2016.  It was named a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum building in November 2017, and teams have since worked to complete the intense Living Building Challenge. The Environmental Center is now one of only 21 buildings in the world to achieve Living Building Challenge Certification. The Environmental Center is the second Living Building Challenge Certified building in the city and state, sharing that honor with the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes. However, the Frick Environmental Center is the first building in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania to meet the designation under v2.1 of the Living Building Challenge.

“No building in western Pennsylvania has ever been built according to such rigorous performance standards,” said PJ Dick Project Manager Noah Shaltes. “By the project’s end, we had impressed the importance of sustainable building on more than 100 members of the building and construction industry. The team’s commitment to vetting materials was key to successful certification.”

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s Sustainability Coordinator Maureen Olinzock traveled to Portland, Ore., to receive the official Living Building certification at the Living Future Unconference. This is yet another accolade for the Frick Environmental Center, which has garnered almost a dozen awards.

More than 1,000 individuals involved in the public visioning and planning process since 2011 made the Frick Environmental Center possible along with the more than 600 donors and funders whose generosity helped this project come to fruition.

The Environmental Center represents a continued partnership between the nonprofit Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh to provide a free facility that allows learners of all ages to partake in environmental education in a cutting-edge space. The Environmental Center serves as the gateway to Frick Park and as a space for environmental classes, events and programs.



Topics: Certifications, Educational Buildings, Lighting - Energy Efficient Lighting, Solar Energy & Solar Power, Water Saving Strategies and Devices


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