Green Building Moving Ahead in Pittsburgh

If you were asked “What’s the second greenest city in the US in terms of “square-footage of commercial or industrial buildings with Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design ratings,” would you have guessed Pittsburgh? Me neither, but this article from Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette makes that claim, and gives much of the credit to Rebecca Flora, executive director of the Green Building Alliance. Pittsburgh has eight buildings with LEED certification, including the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, “the first certified green convention center design.”

Built with a significant amount of recycled materials, the $385 million Downtown meeting and exhibition center features a water recycling system, energy-saving light sensors and controls, and large areas of natural light and ventilation.

“It’s impacted the entire convention center market,” said Ms. Flora. But green building development isn’t limited to public spaces like the convention center or the recently expanded Children’s Museum on the North Side, which also has garnered acclaim, she said.

Smaller projects such as the offices for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership in renovated space on the South Side and KSBA Architects’ offices in a former firehouse in Lawrenceville “are also market transforming,” she said.

Ms. Flora considers green building to be a natural extension of remaking Pittsburgh from a heavy industrial center to a place undergoing critical economic and environmental transitions.

So, while we think of places like San Francisco, Portland and Seattle as havens of green thinking and action, does it make more sense to focus on Rustbelt cities that are undergoing transitions anyway (and which have a lot of people who’d be interested in a natural building job)? And what a cool job — where do I send my resume’?

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