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Morris Arboretum Credit: Will Baskin-Gerwitz

A Penn building has earned the highest distinction for going green.

Last week, the Morris Arboretum Horticultural Center received Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The building — located in Penn’s historic public garden and educational center in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood — is the region’s first newly constructed not-for-profit platinum LEED building and only the second in the state, Business Services spokeswoman Barbara Lea-Kruger said.

The Horticultural Center contains office space, conference rooms, workshops and garages.

When designing the Horticultural Center, “we were committed to building a building that would be an exhibit on sustainability,” Morris Arboretum director Paul Meyer said. He added the team was shooting for a platinum rating, but because of the high standards, “we weren’t absolutely sure we were going to make it.”

There were many factors that led to the platinum rating, Meyer said.

Wood from trees cleared from the site of construction was harvested and used for the interior decor, including two “beautiful” conference tables that are now in the building, Meyer said.

All old concrete from the site was reused and branches from trees were chipped and used as mulch, Meyer addded.

The building has two separate green roofs, and run-off water from the roofs is collected by cisterns. The water collected is in turn used in toilets and used to irrigate plants, Meyer said.

Platinum certification on sustainable constructions is an important feature of the Climate Action Plan — Penn’s program to reduce its carbon footprint and improve sustainability, Lea-Kruger said.

“The University Climate Action Plan called for all new buildings to be designed to achieve a minimum LEED Silver rating,” Anne Papageorge, vice president of Facilities and Real Estate Services wrote in an e-mail. “This project serves as a model for our highest aspirations for the future of green building and progress toward our sustainability goals.”

However, the platinum certification isn’t the only reason the Horticultural Center is important, Vice President of Business Services Marie Witt said.

According to Witt, the sustainable building is also valuable as a center for research and teaching. “We can learn from what we’ve done here,” Witt said.

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