Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Green Buildings

The built environment has an undeniable impact on the environment, economy, and society. We primarily use life cycle assessment (LCA) to better understand all phases of the built environment: design, raw materials extraction and processing, transportation, construction, use and maintenance, and end-of-life scenarios. In addition of building research, we also conduct research within the field of LCA, as it is a primary tool in our research.

Current projects

  • System
  • Dynamic life cycle assessment of green buildings
  • Net-Zero Energy Buildings
  • Phipps' Center for Sustainable Landscapes
  • Ibacos' Residential Lab Home
  • Products
  • Fiber reinforced biopolymer
  • Insulating concrete forms
  • Greening the construction processes
  • Integrating Lean, Six-Sigma, and Green
  • Hybrid life cycle assessment construction model
  • Green product labeling
  • Green Building Metrics and Performance
  • Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Castcon Stone

From a broad perspective, we propose, examine, and validate sustainability solutions for the built environment – buildings and infrastructure - with a life cycle perspective. In the United States, buildings use 70% of total electricity (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2001a),require over 39% of primary energy, emit 39% of the greenhouse gas emissions (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2001b),contribute 136 million tons of construction and demolition waste (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1998),and consume 11% of the potable water (U.S. Geological Survey 2000).


From economic and volume perspectives,there are 223,114 establishments/businesses in the building industry. These businesses represent more than$531 billion in annual revenues and nearly $62 billion in annual payroll with more than 1.7 million employees in 2002 (U.S. Census Bureau 2002).

Green Buildings

Living Building Challenge Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Garden's Living Building Project Team: Cassandra Thiel, Melissa Bilec, Amy Landis

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, PA prides itself on its environmental accomplishments, and its current endeavor, the ambitious Center for Sustainable Landscapes, will meet the difficult criteria set out by the Cascadia Living Building Challenge v1.3. The University of Pittsburgh's Sustainable and Green Design Group has partnered with Phipps to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment of the building, calculating the environmental impacts of the structure throughout its life cycle.

Center for Sutainable Landscapes at Phipps

Phipps' Center for Sustainable Landscapes (TDA, 2009)