Integrating the built and natural environments for human and environmental health: what building rating systems can teach us

Symposium C2


Most building construction does not consider the health of people and the surrounding environment into the building design.  As the global human population grows, we need to design sustainable buildings that are closely tied to nature to improve human health and prevent environmental damage.  Four building rating systems: 1) Living Building Challenge (LBC), 2) U.S. Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), 3) Sustainable SITES certification, and 4) WELL Building certification, all provide guidance to designing efficient, sustainable buildings that prioritize human and environmental health. Additionally, research has shown that exposure to nature improves our mental and physical health and pro-environmental behaviors. Biophilic design can strengthen our connections to nature in the built environment, benefiting the spaces in which humans live, work, play and learn. Phipps Conservatory’s Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, PA, will serve as a case study for using building rating systems and biophilic design to maximize efficiency, sustainable technologies, and human and environmental health.  Presenters will discuss the operation of the building over five years and associated research that continues to influence performance.  We will make the case why rating systems, and making connections to nature, can help us achieve the highest level of sustainability in a cost-effective manner, while enriching human health and protecting and restoring the environment.


Richard V. Piacentini, Executive Director Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Sarah L States, PhD, Director of Research and Science Education, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Sonja Bochart, IIDA, LEED AP BD&C, WELL AP., Principal, Shepley Bulfinch


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