PITTSBURGH., PA. — Hanlon Electric Company, electrical contractor for one of the world’s first certified “Living” buildings, is adding a fitting finishing touch to Phipps Conservatory’s Center for Sustainable Landscapes as plans are underway for Hanlon to install an electric vehicle charging station (EVCS) on the site.
“One of the only ways to make a model of sustainability for anyone interested in living greener even more green, is to expand the facilities’ green offerings from building to vehicles”, said Mike Hanlon, president of Hanlon Electric.
The Center for Sustainable Landscapes is one of the first finished projects to have accepted the Living Building Challenge (ILBI Living Building Challenge certification)—a rating that goes far beyond normal LEED requirements. Among other requirements, Living Buildings must have net-zero energy and water usage. The new Phipps Center won’t be officially certified as a Living Building until after it has operated successfully for one year, where it will join only three other buildings that have been certified.
As part of building the facility, Hanlon together with the engineers had to review every part right down to each nut and bolt to ensure every piece used in construction was compliant with the ILBI. The building is designed to reduce annual energy usage by at least 50% in comparison to a traditionally-designed building. To accomplish this, the center uses “outside-in, passive-first solar design, geothermal heating and cooling in conjunction with a rooftop energy recovery unit, solar photovoltaics and vertical axis wind turbines. Hanlon worked with both windmill and solar installers to tie those energy sources into the building’s electrical distribution system.
Adding complexity to the installation, the building is watched-over by a direct digital control building management system, using extensive metering to define/refine energy usage and to prove the facility is compliant. Each lighting switch is programmed to control any light in the building, and sensors read natural light and sense motion and automatically adjust. Hanlon also worked with engineers to develop a flexible backup system, using parallel feeders—one with natural power and one with generator power, to allow the Center and its ecosystems to operate completely independently of the grid.