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Frick Environmental Center earns LEED certification

Tawnya Panizzi
| Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, 11:24 a.m.
Frick Environmental Center, Pittsburgh
Massery Photography
Frick Environmental Center, Pittsburgh
With one of the themes of the center inspired by the idea of 'Neighborhood to Nature,' a series of curving paths leads to the Frick Environmental Center.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
With one of the themes of the center inspired by the idea of 'Neighborhood to Nature,' a series of curving paths leads to the Frick Environmental Center.

The Frick Environmental Center, a modern steel and wooden building tucked into the Frick Park hillside in Point Breeze, has earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification.

LEED, the globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement, is the highest honor given by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We have known the Frick Environmental Center is one of the greenest buildings in the world and it's great to have that reinforced with the new LEED Platinum Certification,” said Meg Cheever, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Cheever's group, in partnership with the city of Pittsburgh, opened the center in 2016 at a cost of about $19 million.

The center is free and open daily to the public.

At 16,440 square feet, it was designed as a living classroom by the architecture firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and offers programs that encourage science and nature-related experimentation.

Clad in black locust lumber, the building evokes the feel of a tree house and is meant to blend with the 115 acres of the Frick Nature Reserve that surround it. The center is home base for a curriculum that extends into the woods, streams and trails.

LEED buildings signify the creation of healthy and high-efficient construction. The center, working towards a certification through the Living Building Challenge, uses 40 percent less energy than comparable benchmarks. Energy used is produced entirely on site through solar and geothermal capture. The building is also designed for net-zero water use, harvesting rainwater for all non-potable uses and processing all wastewater on site.

The certification follows the center's recognition in September by the Green Building Alliance, receiving its Leadership Award for incorporating high sustainability standards into a municipally owned building that is free to the public. The center in October also earned a top design award from the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

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Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or @tawnyatrib.

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