The underrated and fabulous city of Pittsburgh is about to become even better, thanks to a beautiful new building designed to meet the toughest green standards in the world. The city’s net zero-energy Frick Environmental Center (FEC) will soon be unveiled to the public for the first time in a celebration next month. Designed by renowned architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, FEC is the world’s first municipally owned, free and public Living Building Challenge targeted facility that’s also engineered to meet LEED Platinum standards.
Created as a joint venture between the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the FEC is a welcome facility, education center, and gateway to the 644-acre Frick Park. The center will serve as a “living laboratory” offering hands-on environmental education to a projected 20,000 K-12 students along with hundreds of thousands of expected visitors each year. Its fully equipped classrooms, galleries, offices, and public spaces will help carry out the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s award-winning programs that include the restoration of the park’s ecological and historical landscape.
The FEC boasts an impressive array of sustainable features and will achieve net zero energy and water thanks to efficient systems such as ground-source heat pumps, radiant floors, a photovoltaic array, and a reclaimed water system that will capture and filter stormwater for reuse in irrigation and other non-potable uses. All the building materials came from a 1,200-mile radius of the site to minimize the FEC’s carbon footprint. To support the local economy, subcontractors and tradespeople were hired in the Allegheny County-Western Pennsylvania region.
The FEC will host their first public celebration on Saturday, September 10. The building will be free and open to the public during park hours. The Living Building Challenge certification is targeted for Spring 2018.
Photos via Nic Lehoux