Inspire Speaker Series: The Bertschi School and Phipps Conservatory on Uniting Communities for Sustainability

by Melissa Harding

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Last Thursday night, as part of the Inspire Speaker Series, green professionals from all over the city were treated to a wonderful series of talks on the importance of integrative design, as well as given a sneak peek at the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes. Inspire Speakers Richard Piacentini, Mark Beuhrer, Stacy Smedley and Chris Hellstern shared their experiences in working with the Living Building Challenge to create the CSL and the Bertschi School Living Science Wing.

After introducing the twenty principles of the Living Building Challenge, Beuhrer, Smedley and Hellstern shared how they used these principles as a basis to create the beautiful Bertschi School Living Building Science Wing for the Bertschi School in Seattle, Washington. The three design professionals compiled a collective of local green businesses to handle all aspects of design and pre-construction services for the school. Using the process of integrative design, all stakeholders participated in a series of design charrettes, allowing everyone to work together to create a united vision. In addition to the usual stakeholders, this process also included the students. Students wanted a wall that was always growing, a river running through the floor, a fountain, and composting toilets; they got all of that and more. The Living Building Science Wing is an innovative education space, designed to be part of the science curriculum. Changing with the seasons and always growing, this building is truly alive.

Speaking also of integrative design, Richard Piacentini described the design and construction process of the CSL. Additionally, he shared why Phipps decided to pursue the Living Building Challenge. Phipps values not only sustainability, but connecting people to the environment; Phipps desires to reach out to people of all ages and help them learn about and rediscover the natural world. Piacentini also spoke about the importance of walking the walk and taking action. Complete with both an indoor and an outdoor classroom, fixtures to support employee relations with the outdoors and an interactive green roof, the CSL is designed to connect all people to nature.

Join us at Phipps February 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m., when The Inspire Speaker series welcomes national guest Steve Ashkin, the Father of Green Cleaning, and local guests Vivian Loftness and Erica Cochran, Carnegie Mellon University sustainability researchers, to talk about healthy places and indoor air quality. To learn more and register, visit the Green Building Alliance website.

Check out the slide show below for more images from the evening!

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The above images are courtesy of the Green Building Alliance.

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