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Pittsburgh leading Energy Efficiency out of 22 North American cities – 2030 Districts


Pittsburgh is the North American leader in terms of size efforts committing to reducing energy use, water consumption and emissions usage by 50% by 2030; announced the 2030 Districts Network at its GBA’s annual 2030 District progress report on May 20. In fact, Pittsburgh belongs to a larger group of other 22 North American cities within the initiative.

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About the 2030 Districts Network

The 2030 Districts Network is a voluntary effort to get property owners to commit to improving their energy efficiency and achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Regarding the Pittsburgh 2030 District, it was first presented by Siemens and sponsored by Covestro in 2013.

Also, it is an internationally recognized initiative part of the Green Building Alliance (GBA) since 2012. Indeed, this alliance supports building owners and managers as they strive toward 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 2030.  

As part of Pittsburgh’s commitment to the initiative, it connects Property Partners with Community and Resource Partners. Particularly, its looks to driving industry-leading performance through peer-to-peer learning, technical training, and data benchmarking.

Pittsburgh on leading the initiative

Remarkably, Pittsburgh leads all 22 North American 2030 Districts with 86.3 million square feet committed. Besides, the city has collectively saved $154.5M in energy and water costs since 2012. 

Moreover, and according to 2030 Districts Network data, the Pittsburgh 2030 District is the first within the initiative to have collected and analyzed indoor air quality data.

Accordingly, Pittsburgh has more than 86 million square feet of property dedicated to the 2030 District, encompassing 556 buildings. In contrast, and just to provide color on the topic, New York City has so far committed only 21 million square feet of buildings.

Moreover, the Green Building Alliance calculates that Pittsburgh’s efforts have translated into savings of $205.8 million in energy and water costs. Also, approximately 1.85 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided since 2012.

Worth noting, in 2020 alone, the Pittsburgh 2030 District reduced energy use 28.9% below the baseline. Also, the District avoided over 304,132 metric tons of CO2, and it accomplished a 42% reduction in water usage (compared to 19.8% in 2019). According to the District, the impact of Covid was the most significant factor affecting performance in 2020.

Reception and more about what the District has accomplished

“Our buildings, as you know, are 80% of our greenhouse gas emissions,” says Pittsburgh Chief Resilience Officer Grant Ervin. So, “every building provides an opportunity for us to reduce emissions, build resilience and create a healthier environment for everyone.”

Thus, “working with the Green Building Alliance and 2030 District goals, the City of Pittsburgh has had an outsized impact; particularly, on the region’s sustainability goals,” Evin added.

Indeed, setting goals for energy-efficient buildings has multiple benefits. For instance, Allegheny County has 12,000 green jobs now, more than any other county in Pennsylvania. Also, major solar power installations in the past year have included arrays at Mill 19 at Hazelwood Green, Community College of Allegheny County.

Another example is CCAC, which found out that by putting its computers to sleep through a network-wide power management system; it dropped the school’s energy consumption by 74%; this translated into $66,000 to 75,000 in savings annually.

Indoor air-quality – crucial to the city

Finally, Pittsburgh put an additional focus on air quality in 2020. According to the District’s representative, this topic became extremely important because of the pandemic.

In fact, “the reason why we selected indoor air quality and bundled it with the 2030 Challenge is that the property owners and facilities managers are in the best position to influence the indoor air quality in their building;” says Chris Cieslak, 2030 District senior director for the Green Building Alliance. In fact, “the work that they do with the energy, the water, and indoor air quality; also relates to the health and performance of the building.”

Finally, other North American cities part of the 2030 District initiative are Albuquerque, Ann Harbor, Burlington, Cincinnati, Cleveland; Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Erie, Grand Rapids, Greater Victoria; Ithaca, NYC, Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Stamford, Toronto, and Tucson.

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