Heinz Field among those joining Pittsburgh 2030 energy-saving effort

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With the newest additions, one Pittsburgh list is becoming a little less exclusive. And that's a good thing.

Heinz Field, U.S. Steel Tower and properties of Point Park University and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh have become the latest to be included in a campaign to cut energy, water and transportation consumption by 50 percent by the year 2030.

With the latest participants, slightly more than 50 percent of properties Downtown and on the North Shore, at least in terms of square footage, have become part of the Pittsburgh 2030 District, which was formed as part of a national challenge launched by Architecture 2030, a non-profit organization seeking to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the global building sector.

The owners of those structures join 27 other local property holders that have made the pledge. Getting a majority of properties committed is a milestone for the movement, said Sean Luther, director of the district for the Green Building Alliance, which is spearheading the local effort.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District hit 50 percent participation less than six months after its launch and eight months earlier than anticipated, he said. Pittsburgh now has 27.8 million square feet committed to the effort, putting it right up there with Seattle, considered one of the most sustainable cities in the country.

"I think it's indicative of the inherent leadership that the property owner community in Pittsburgh has," Mr. Luther said. "We're a leader in sustainable building practices around the country and I also think we're a leader in innovative real estate strategies to stay economically competitive."

The district hopes to get to 65 percent participation by the end of 2013. But with a majority now committed to the campaign, it will be able to move from recruitment to identifying and helping property owners implement strategies to reach the goal, Mr. Luther said.

Toward that end, officials have been organizing regular meetings among property owners to share best practices and ideas. Eventually the district hopes to look into initiatives like joint purchasing agreements for the property owners, perhaps adding to the steam generation network Downtown, and developing new technologies to cut consumption.

"The possibilities are really limitless," Mr. Luther said.

Organizers also are focusing on establishing baselines for consumption and hope to be able to measure progress by the first anniversary of the Pittsburgh 2030 District's creation in August.

They believe the challenge can make a big impact in reducing energy use. According to the district, buildings in the United States are responsible for 71 percent of electricity consumption, 65 percent of waste output and 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Overall, 50 percent of all energy consumption in the country is from buildings, Mr. Luther stated.

"The 2030 challenge has identified that buildings are the problem, but also that buildings are the solution, that programs like this can dramatically reduce our energy demand," he said.

By cutting consumption, building owners also can cut operating costs and compete more effectively with those in other cities, particularly ones with a lot of newer, state-of-the-art class A office space.

In Pittsburgh, with the addition of Heinz Field, all three professional sports venues have committed to the campaign.

Other notables include BNY Mellon Center; Fifth Avenue Place; One, Two and Three PNC Plaza and the new Tower at PNC Plaza; Benedum Center; Alcoa Corporate Center; the O'Reilly Theater; K&L Gates Center; One Oxford Centre; the United Steelworkers Building; the David L. Lawrence Convention Center; the Allegheny County Courthouse; the City-County Building; and the county jail.

Mr. Luther said the district also is having "good conversations" with Highwoods Properties, the owner of PPG Place and EQT Plaza, about committing, as well as with the owners of the Del Monte and Equitable buildings on the North Shore.

Other cities in the challenge are Seattle, Cleveland and Los Angeles.

neigh_city - businessnews - environment

Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262. First Published February 5, 2013 12:00 AM


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