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Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

The Green Heart of Pittsburgh
Growing Greener Events at Phipps

Host your next special event in the Green Heart of Pittsburgh, one of the world's greenest public gardens. As a recognized leader in sustainability, Phipps offers a unique and beautiful setting for a green wedding, celebration, professional meeting or event.

Our committed staff will work with you to create an event encompassing the utmost sustainable practices through our partnership with some of the region's most well-known and experienced event planners and vendors. From catering to floral arrangements, Phipps connects you to highly creative, environmentally-conscious event professionals as you envision your greenest event yet!

What Phipps is Doing

Phipps' commitment to environmental stewardship is demonstrated through its LEED® certified and energy-efficient buildings in combination with its sustainable operations and maintenance practices.

The Welcome Center at Phipps
  • Phipps invests in renewable energy credits to offset 100% of the electricity used at our Schenley Park campus and the Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park.
  • Our energy-efficient Tropical Forest Conservatory features passive cooling, a radical roof venting design, earth tubes, energy blankets, a fuel cell, thermal massing, and rootzone heating.
  • Our LEED® Silver Welcome Center is the First LEED certified visitor center in a public garden, featuring sustainable plant beds with drip irrigation systems, green roofs, non-irrigated organic lawn care practices, a captured waste heat snow melt system, a recycled plastic parking grid planted under front lawn, natural lighting and ventilation, recycled and regionally sourced materials, high efficiency restroom fixtures, and sustainable and organic options in the café and gift shop.
  • Our Special Events Hall was built to LEED standards and features bamboo flooring, energy efficient lighting systems, Solarban 70XL solar control low-e glass windows, eco-friendly shading, a greenroof, Integrated Pest Management practices, high efficiency restroom fixtures, and benches with organic fabric and recycled foam.
  • Phipps is pursuing LEED certification for our existing buildings.

Additional campus features include:

  • Energy efficient lighting systems and motion sensors to reduce the impact of unnecessary lighting
  • High efficiency restroom fixtures and landscape irrigation practices
  • Low and no-VOC paints, adhesives and sealants
  • A sustainable purchasing policy for all durable, electronic and ongoing consumables
  • Extensive recycling program including all paper, plastic, glass, cans, electronics and toxic materials
  • Integrated Pest Management to control pests and diseases, maximize the use of organic fertilizers and minimize pesticide use
  • Green Seal approved cleaning products and paper supplies
  • Composting of all pre- and post-consumer food waste and plant material from our entire campus
  • Elimination of all plastic disposable serviceware and vinyl tablecloths throughout our facility; washable and reusable plates and cups are encouraged and used whenever possible; otherwise, disposables must be 100% compostable vegetable starch-based products and recycled napkins
  • Elimination of all disposable water bottles throughout our facility. All café, catering and staff facilities are provided with filtered tap water produced on site

Additional event-specific practices include:

  • All caterers are required to compost all post-consumer food waste generated at your event.
  • All caterers are required to recycle all paper, plastic, glass, cans and cardboard.
  • All caterers offer local, organic, sustainably harvested and humanely raised food and beverage options.
  • Our café and catered events feature fair trade shade grown organic coffee.

What You Can Do

Protecting our natural resources is a joint effort, and Phipps will gladly help you accomplish your highest goals. 'Greening' your event can be easy and innovative; below are some of our recommendations:

Paper Products

  • Send e-vite invitations instead of paper invitations
  • If you must print your invitations, use 100% recycled paper with soy ink
  • Use paper from a fair trade vendor or local manufacturer
  • Minimize extra paper by creating a website with details about your special event
  • Eliminate paper programs or print fewer, encouraging your guests to share


  • Provide your guests with shuttle transportation from a hotel or main destination
  • Transport your entire group in one bus/van/limo
  • Encourage guests to carpool or take public transit
  • Invest in carbon credits directly from the Phipps website to offset transportation pollution


  • Choose organic, local and seasonal foods for your appetizers and entrees
  • Offer vegetarian and vegan foods as options
  • Offer plated food for your guests instead of a buffet
  • Serve food on washable plates rather than disposable (remember we only allow compostable disposable products at Phipps)
  • Choose a baker that uses organic cake ingredients, or provide the ingredients to them
  • Place smaller, table-size cakes in the center of the tables as centerpieces
  • Donate excess food to a food bank or those in need


  • Serve beverages in washable glasses
  • Choose local or organic wine, beer, liquor and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Remember, disposable bottle water is not allowed at Phipps. We will be happy to provide your guests with filtered water in pitchers


  • Choose acoustic musicians rather than electric
  • Use local vendors to support local business and reduce emissions incurred by traveling to the event


  • Register with fair trade or eco-gift vendors
  • Ask guests to donate to environmental organizations in lieu of a gift
  • Add a local company to your registry


  • Use potted plants as centerpieces that can be taken home by your guests or donated afterward
  • Use local, organic, and in-season cut flowers from a local farm or grower
  • Use organic fruit or herbs in place of cut flowers

Favors and Decorations

  • Give your guests seed packets, potted plants, or tree seedlings to plant at home
  • Give homemade jams in recycled or reused jars
  • Give organic and sustainably-harvested chocolate, fruit or baked goods
  • Give honey from a local bee keeper
  • Give compact florescent light bulbs
  • Purchase carbon credits or renewable energy credits in your guest's name directly from our website
  • Make donations in guests' honor to the conservatory or other eco-cause
  • Use recycled goods or organic fruits for centerpieces
  • Use place cards made from seed embedded paper products or 100% recycled paper

General Ideas

  • Have a 'local' honeymoon and experience all good things about our local community
  • If your group is getting ready at home for the ceremony, provide pitchers instead of bottled beverages, and local and organic foods
  • Request that the room be kept at a moderate temperature
  • Work with an event planner familiar with green practices

Final Thoughts

  • When planning your event, think about how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle