For Immediate Release: Wed., Sept. 13

Contact: Julie LaBar | Director of Marketing and Communications
412/638-6008 ǀ jlabar@phipps.conservatory.org


Phipps Conservatory Expands Composting Initiative with First Composting Toilet in Pittsburgh
Sustainability leader furthers its environmental commitment with opening of restroom facility at Phipps Garden Center.

Pittsburgh, Pa. —  Furthering its composting initiative, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens  has opened the first-ever composting toilet in the City of Pittsburgh.  Located at Phipps Garden Center in Shadyside on the former Mellon Estate, the eco-friendly restroom is now open to the public, adjacent to The Shop in the Park gift shop, event meeting rooms and members’ horticultural library.

The innovative new system is easy, efficient and uses the same biochemical processes found in backyard compost heaps. Oxygen, heat and moisture convert the waste to nutrient-rich compost and eliminate pathogens in this clean, odorless composting solution that operates like a regular toilet. It does not have “bells and whistles,” which is what makes it so innovative — the solution is simple and, most importantly, environmentally friendly. 

The composting toilet benefits the environment by reducing water use, lightening the load on combined sewer systems and allowing the safe return of beneficial nutrients back into the soil. It also reduces emissions by using aerobic microbes that quickly break down waste. These microbes do not produce greenhouse gasses as a by-product of decomposition, such as methane and sulfate gasses, reducing the carbon footprint.

Composting is part of Phipps’ larger commitment to advance human and environmental well-being.  From food and plants to cardboard, Phipps composted over 1.1 million pounds of waste in 2016.  Combined with the organization’s recycling efforts, Phipps diverted 94% of its waste away from landfills in 2016, repurposing the waste to be recycled or used in compost. In 2011, Phipps was recognized at the Platinum level by Zero Waste Pittsburgh.

As one example, Café Phipps composts all pre- and post-consumer-waste, about 500,000 pounds per year. Almost 54,000 cups are composted, kept from entering the waste stream each year.

“Phipps is recognized for demonstrating the most energy-efficient, healthiest built environments in the world,” stated Phipps’ Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini.  “The expansion of Phipps’ composting initiative is one more step we are taking to show the real-world benefits and impact of living more sustainably.”

In support of this mission, Phipps proudly supports the International Living Future Institute’s 2017 Living Product Expo being held in Pittsburgh now through Thurs., Sept. 14. The Expo profiles high impact Living Building Challenge projects like Phipps and fosters innovative new ones, bringing together manufacturers, designers, scientists and subject matter experts with a shared vision for a regenerative, healthy future.

For more information on Phipps’ sustainability leadership and commitment, visit phipps.conservatory.org/green-innovation.

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About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa. is a green leader among public gardens with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Learn more: phipps.conservatory.org.

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Photo © Paul g. Wiegman