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The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps

Project Background:

BREEAM is an internationally recognized sustainability assessment method for master planning projects, infrastructure and buildings. BREEAM does this through third party certification of the assessment of an asset’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability performance using standards developed by BRE. This means BREEAM rated developments create more sustainable environments that enhance the well-being of the people who live and work in them, help protect natural resources, and make more attractive property investments.

Project Description:

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) is a 24,350-square-foot education, research and administration facility at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a public garden attraction in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Designed and built to generate all of its own energy while treating and reusing all water captured on-site, the CSL is the first facility in the world to meet four of the world’s highest green construction standards — The Living Building Challenge, WELL Building Platinum, SITES Platinum and LEED® Platinum — and chose to attempt the distinctive BREEAM Outstanding In-Use rating.

3R was hired to assist with the documentation and submission process for this process. Phipps had a goal of hitting the maximum six stars in the BREEAM assessment. 3R’s role consisted of completing a gap assessment between the documentation Phipps had already implemented from previous achievements, and what was still needed to achieve the maximum six stars in the BREEAM assessment. Throughout this process, 3R determined which “issues” were complete, which still needed supporting documentation, and which were not feasible for the client to achieve based on the existing building’s systems. For the issues that were not feasible, 3R created a plan of action that was given to the client detailing measures that could be implemented during future renovations to ensure progress towards receiving all six stars in both Part 1 and Part 2 of rating system.

In addition, 3R prepared the documentation for each issue, which consisted of, but was not limited to, photographic evidence of compliance, narratives explaining each how each piece of provided documentation met BREEAM’s requirements, as well as cover sheets for a simplified review process.


As of February 2020, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, in collaboration with BRE Global, officially announced that Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) has been certified using the BREEAM USA standard for existing buildings. The CSL is the first building in the United States to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating, and the first building certified under BREEAM in the state of Pennsylvania.

The CSL earned a score of over 90% in each of the BREEAM categories, which include: Land Use, Materials, Energy, and Water, Health and Well-being, and Pollution. These results are reflective of a brownfield remediation, natural hazard management, sustainable purchasing, net zero energy and net zero water, as well as Phipps’ dedication to occupant satisfaction and biodiversity.

Project Details:

Pittsburgh, PA 

Rating System Type: 
BREEAM USA-in use 

Building Size:
24,350 sq. ft  

May 2019-January 2020 

Rating System Consulting