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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Phipps Conservatory - The Green Heart of Pittsburgh

So after all these years living in Pittsburgh (9 out of the past 10 yrs), and after several attempts by my wife to get me to go, today I finally went to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The place was amazing. Not only did it have trees and plant species from all over the world, but it was a conservationists dream.

The welcome center (pictured above) and greenhouses had several green design features that make it one of the most, if not the most, self sustainable greenhouses. One of the highlights of the center's green design - energy efficient cooling and heating with underground "earth tubes" which are used to create a natural air conditioning.

Another cool thing was the presence of a Fuel Cell (pictured)which was used to power the conservatory's Thailand rain forest exhibit. Although Fuel Cells do emit some emissions, they are much better than any power coming from a coal or gas fired electric plant.

So, not only did I get to witness some awesome green technology in action, but I got to breath in some nice fresh air free of pariculate matter, and I gained some hope that Pittsburgh can become a leading "Green" city, at least when it comes to green building initiatives like the conservatory and convention center.

Oh, and one last thing - a plug for the conservatory's cafe. I had no idea they had a cafe that sold several varieties of micro brews. I went to school just up the street at CMU for two years, had I known there were micro brews at Phipps that would have been one of our favorite lunch spots.

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