Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
I'd never visited Phipps until last June, and it was a revelation. Pictured here is the 120+ year-old glasshouse, but who would guess that the new visitor center below the dome, which opened in 2005, was the first one in the country to be LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design®) certified. The Cafe, by the way, showcases local & organic food, serves no sodas or bottled water, and composts all of its waste.
Under an expansion plan, a Tropical Forest Conservatory was added in 2006, and at the time it opened, it was the most energy-efficient in the country. Although it has a south-facing glass wall, its design eliminates the greenhouse effect. It is passively cooled and always cooler inside than out in hot weather.
The pièce de résistance, however, is the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes -- which has achieved a number of green certifications: LEED Platinum, the Living Building Challenge, the first WELL Platinum Building, and, for the landscape, the first four-star Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES).
The Center produces all its own energy from the sun and wind; recycles all waste and stormwater on site; features over 150 native plant species; and provides food and shelter for local wildlife, including fish and turtles that live in the lagoon.
The landscape & building were designed by Andropogon Associates of Philadelphia, in concert with local architects, engineers, academics, and many other experts. The center has won more than 20 awards for excellence. A must visit -- you will not be disappointed.