Posts tagged ‘Living Building Challenge’

January 18, 2013

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

by Melissa Harding

bertschi 4

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.

January 2, 2013

January Inspire Speaker Series: Pushing Boundaries with The Living Building Challenge

by Melissa Harding


“It takes cooperation and collaboration to create a place where enthusiasm in education is celebrated and shared.”
– The Bertschi School

Join us January 10, 5:30-8:30 p.m. for the fourth session of the INSPIRE Speakers Series , which will feature guests from both the Bertschi School and Phipps Conservatory to talk about the Living Building Challenge. The Bertschi School, a preK-5 elementary school located in Seattle, Washington, is both the builder of the first LEED gold-certified building on an independent school campus in the Pacific NW and the first living building in Washington State, the Bertschi School Living Building Science Wing. Inspire Speaker guests include Bertschi School project team members Chris Hellstern, Stacey Smedley and Mark Beuhrer. Additionally, Phipps Executive Director, Richard Piancentini, will speak about the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes. GBA and Phipps are excited to host these accomplished guests to speak about the value of uniting entire communities for the purpose of sustainability through the Living Building Challenge.

The Bertschi School is a highly collaborative community that balances rigorous academics with kindness and social responsibility. Students actively take part in the community, learn from a strong interdisciplinary curriculum and benefit from innovative science, arts, physical education, and horticulture programs. The Bertschi School’s goal is to foster successful learners and engaged citizens.

 “At Bertschi, I don’t feel like I do anything alone, but I am confident to do things by myself.” – Bertschi student

This process of collaboration is also evident in the creation of the Living Building Science Wing. Inspired by the Living Building Challenge, design professionals formed the Restorative Design Collective in order to provide design and pre-construction services to the school pro bono. The task was daunting; the project team had to create a school that not only achieved net-zero energy and water usage, but would also be an interactive teaching tool for students. The solution was innovative; students worked with design professionals to brainstorm some of the building’s most unique features. One of these includes a river that runs through a channel in the concrete floor, showing the building’s rainwater harvesting system.

Another example of the power of local minds and materials is the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). The CSL, Phipps new education, research and administrative facility, is aiming to exceed even the Living Building Challenge in its quest to be one of the greenest buildings in the world. The CSL will generate all of its own energy with state-of-the art technologies such as solar photovoltaics, geothermal wells and a vertical axis wind turbine; treat and reuse all water captured on site; and feature a restorative landscape with many beautiful varieties of native plants. This was made possible through the use of an integrative design process in which the design team and stakeholders formulated ideas and figured out best practices before the building was off the ground. Using this approach, all parties were involved from the start and worked together to create innovative ideas.

Learn more about how the process of integrative design and community collaboration can create innovation in green buildings!

WHEN: Thursday, January 10th, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Registration Information:
• GBA Member Fee: $25.00
• Member of Partner Organization Fee (Phipps Conservatory or Tri-State Area School Study Council): $25.00
Non-member Fee: $45.00
Student Fee: $25.00

Register HERE. Or for group rates and scholarship information, please contact Jenna Cramer.

The above image was provided by the Green Building Alliance.


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