Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Alive!!

I went to a seminar today about Sustainability in design of engineering projects. I have a moderate interest in the subject, but to be honest I was mostly there to get the last few Continuing Education Units I need for my Professional Engineer's license renewal.

The seminar was at Phipps Conservatory. The final topic of the day was regarding the recent expansion effort of Phipps -- the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, also known as a Living Building.

The CSL is going for LEED Platinum certification and the highest rating for the Living Building Center's rating. One of the core tenets of the building's planning was the use of Integrated Design. The concept of Integrated Design is that all of the design team (owner, architect, mech engineer, plumbing engineer, site engineer, electrical engineer, landscape architect) gets together at the very beginning to explore the conceptual design, rather than wait for the design and then go off and work in their own vacuums.

On large buildings, it certainly makes sense. The other interesting facet of the design is the exclusion of certain products that are deemed environmentally unsound. These include PVC pipe, which is on the naughty list for the way it is fabricated. It also includes lead fire sprinklers, which is a problem because commercial-grade fire sprinklers not made of lead are few and far between.

The building external cladding is going to be made of wood re-purposed from old barns throughout Western Pennsylvania. It will be a net zero power and water building by re-using discarded water for irrigation and flushing toilets. There's a whole host of other enviro-friendly nuggets with the building, which will be completed probably within 18 months.

Just another nice feature to an excellent facility at Phipps Conservatory.

1 comment:

  1. Now imagine what would happen if they used the discarded-turned-irrigation-water to....wait for turn re-irrigate something! Or flush a couple toilets!!


    Umm...isn't re-using discarded water for irrigation something that about a billion subdivisions do already to water their greenspaces? Way to push the envelope there, Phipps. Good job. :)