The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has recently constructed an on-site classroom, called the SEEDclassroom. The aim of this project was to provide a sustainable, inspiring and healthy space for educational purposes, and it is one of only such classrooms in the US.
The SEEDclassroom is a net-zero energy building while it also consumes net-zero water. All the needed electrical power is harvested through solar panels, while the SEEDclassroom building itself is also modular, easy to transport and designed to be self-sustaining. It features a green wall that treats grey water, while rainwater is also collected and then filtered for use in the building. The drinking water is treated in constructed wetlands.
Plenty of natural daylight is able to enter the classroom through its large windows, while the systems that keep it functioning were also left exposed in order to facilitate and encourage students asking questions about how it all works, which makes these classrooms a great place for hands on learning.
The classroom was installed at the Phipps Botanical Gardens on March 17th. They still need to decorate the interior and add the green wall, as well as install decking and finish up the landscaping outside. They hope to open the classroom on April 25th. The classroom is intended to be used by children aged 2 right up to adults and seniors. In other words all visitors to the botanical gardens will be able to benefit from learning at this classroom, which will do a lot to bring sustainable living practices into general awareness.
They will also seek the Living Building certification for the SEEDclassroom, but to do so the performance of the classroom must first be monitored for a full 12 months.