Ninety percent of visitors at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens surveyed in 2016 considered climate change a threat now or in the future. Now, Phipps has an unprecedented opportunity to show people that when they make small changes in the way they live, they can have huge impact. Phipps now is partnering with Green Mountain Energy (GME) to help by offering visitors the opportunity to switch their electricity provider to renewable energy. Every visitor to Phipps that switches during their visit gets a free family membership to Phipps for one year. Existing members that switch get a six-month extension of their membership. Switching is easy and takes just a few minutes, and representatives are available to help visitors choose the right plan. The bill still comes from your current provider, and rates are competitive and may even be cheaper.

So far the results are very encouraging. In the first month, 250 people switched their electricity. The average Pennsylvania home emits about 7 tons of CO2/year. 250 conversions = 1,750 tons of CO2/year. This is equal to 3,804,866 miles driving in a car, or 8.5 train cars of coal, 21 tanker trucks worth of gasoline. For each year that a home uses green power, it helps remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as three acres of forest. That’s a pretty big impact. Now imagine what can happen over a year at Phipps, and then imagine the impact if botanical gardens, museums of natural history, nature centers and many other types of museums had similar programs. The impact could be substantial.

In 24 states in the U.S., consumers can pick their electricity provider and can choose renewable energy. “They just need the help and motivation to do it,” says Richard V. Piacentini, Phipps executive director. “The program is non-partisan, is voluntary, and speaks to those that believe in climate change and think something should be done about it. It is working because we have eliminated some of the obstacles to switching. People tend to procrastinate or think the problem is too monumental for them to make a difference and they do not have the time or resources do the research. Offering our visitors simple climate change facts that demonstrate that small actions do make a difference, providing information about the types of programs offered and incentivizing them with Phipps memberships on the spot are a win-win for everybody. And, it only takes less than 10 minutes of their time.”


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: