The international community has committed to carbon neutrality, and Pittsburgh has responded.
Long before the Paris Climate Accord
proposed net-zero greenhouse gas
emission, Pittsburgh had published two
Climate Action plans, started a greenhouse gas inventory and adopted a
citywide sustainability rubric. The city’s
vision was sustainability for all, and officials had clearly defined its goals – 80%
reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
After joining more than 175 national
governments in the agreement, the
question remains: How can a city drastically change its environmental impact?
For Pittsburgh, the answer lies in the
boundary of the 2030 District.
The 2030 District
In deciding how to create a more
New construction and major renova-
sustainable city, the nonprofit Green
Building Alliance (GBA) founded the
Pittsburgh 2030 District. The model’s
based on the 2030 Challenge for
Planning, in which buildings voluntarily
commit to performance-based reduc-
tions in energy, water and transporta-
tion emissions. The challenge creates
separate goals for new construction and
existing buildings, with incremental goals
tion projects commit to carbon neutrality
by 2030, while existing buildings pursue
50% reductions in energy use (below
national baselines). Both new and existing buildings commit to 50% reductions
in water use and transportation emissions (below regional baselines).
The Pittsburgh 2030 District represents more than 500 buildings committed to rigorous reductions, leading all
19 international 2030 Districts with 81.7
million square feet committed. For the
2017 performance year, committed properties reduced energy use by 12%, while
water consumption fell by 14.5%. Since
2012, the Pittsburgh 2030 District has
collectively saved $85.4 million in energy
and water costs, while avoiding 434,400
metric tons of CO2e.
For a city with an aging building
stock, the 2030 District encourages
every building to make improvements,
even if larger third-party certifications
aren’t financially feasible. The emphasis
on measured performance is particularly
important to the model’s effectiveness.
Property Partners are businesses or
buildings that signed the commitment
pledge to the 2030 Challenge Goals and
are within the 2030 District Boundary.
They’re able to advocate for efficiency
upgrades with verified data, while policy-makers can create frameworks based on
calculated environmental impacts. The
2030 District model also encourages participants to envision the impact of their
Property Partners build a robust
peer network that cultivates collaboration across diverse sectors of influence,
including private owners, government
officials, community organizations, utilities, institutions, designers and technology providers.
Though benchmarking legislation has
become a standard policy mechanism for
climate response, the Pittsburgh 2030
District represents a broader movement for change. Pittsburgh and more
than 22 other cities have mandated
that non-residential properties disclose
their annual utility consumption data,
increasing tenant transparency to incen-
Creating a More Sustainable City
WITH THE PITTSBURGH 2030 DISTRICT, BUILDINGS COMMIT TO REDUCTIONS IN WATER AND ENERGY USE AND
IN DECIDING HOW TO CREATE A MORE SUSTAINABLE CITY, the nonprofit Green
Building Alliance founded the Pittsburgh 2030 District.