Pittsburgh buildings participating in energy saving effort surpass goals for 2015
Pittsburgh excels in nationwide program
April 29, 2016 12:14 AM
Pittsburgh’s 438 participating buildings -- including sports venues, government buildings, universities, corporate and non-profit offices -- make up the largest 2030 District of 12 participating cities in the country.
By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Buildings comprising 68.2 million square feet of real estate in Pittsburgh’s Downtown, North Shore, Uptown and Oakland beat 2015 goals in a nationwide initiative to reduce emissions and the use of energy and water by 50 percent by 2030.
The Pittsburgh 2030 District results were announced Thursday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
The Pittsburgh 2030 District is an initiative of the Green Building Alliance and represents buildings throughout Downtown and Oakland that aim to cut energy water and transportation-related emissions by 2030.
Pittsburgh’s 438 participating buildings -- including sports venues, government buildings, universities, corporate and non-profit offices -- make up the largest 2030 District of 12 participating cities in the country. Pittsburgh joined the challenge in 2012.
Buildings in this country use 71 percent of all the electricity, are responsible for 65 percent of the waste and 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
Collectively, Pittsburgh’s 2030 buildings reduced energy use by 12.5 percent, which is equivalent to the annual energy use of 6,353 homes; water use by 10.3 percent, equivalent to the annual water use of 624 homes, and transportation emissions -— driving associated with the buildings — by 24.2 percent. The latter exceeds the 2020 goal of 20 percent.
Anna J. Siefken, Pittsburgh 2030’s district director, said Pittsburgh is on track to hit each five-year marker.
“This initiative has inspired significant, sustainable advancement in the region,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Their collaborative efforts place Pittsburgh as the leader among all cities” participating.
“They represent the best work from the brightest entities within our city,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.
Most new buildings are designed for energy efficiency or to meet rigorous environmental standards. Older buildings are “an untapped market sector,” said Ms. Siefken. “People dealing with old facilities get complaints about cold rooms, hot rooms, and their interest is to reduce operational expenses.”
She said partners meet regularly to tell each other about the projects they’ve done, how quick the payback has been and how many fewer complaints they have logged. These sessions inspire others to make similar upgrades.
Lighting is usually the first step and has quick payback, from eight months to three years, she said. The next increments “could be more difficult but more exciting. Once you’ve done the basic things you have to get more creative, with different kinds of investment.”
Technology advances help. For example, boilers that used to fill entire rooms are now the size of small sofas and much more efficient. Replacing old boilers that could be nearing the end of their lives anyway could greatly reduce energy use.
Reduction calculations compare buildings that are alike across the country and are normalized to account for weather variations. Monetary savings are not calculated because rates and project costs vary.
“We’re looking at actual usage,” she said. “Money is what they [building owners] are concerned about. Our bottom line is the load.”
The other cities and square footage of their commitments are: Seattle, 45 million; Cleveland, 40 million; Toronto, 24 million; Denver, 21 million; Dallas, 15 million; Albuquerque, 12 million; Stamford, Conn., 12 million; Los Angeles, 11 million; San Francisco, 10 million; Grand Rapids, 9 million, and San Antonio, 1 million.
Diana Nelson Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1626.
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