Pittsburgh Signs on to UN Buildings Initiative
Last month, the United Nations Economic Council on Europe and Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance signed an agreement, marking the official launch of the city’s International Center of Excellence on High-Performance Buildings.
The agreement makes Pittsburgh the second city in the world to participate in the program, following New York’s Building Energy Exchange.
About the Program and Pittsburgh’s Participation
According to the UNECE press release, the center of excellence agreement was designed to create a global network of sustainability experts that would disseminate and deploy the UNECE’s Framework Guidelines for Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings.
The agreement chooses to focus on built environments as buildings are reported to use more than 70% of electrical power generated and are accountable for roughly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.
In serving the high-performance buildings initiative, Pittsburgh agrees to distill best practices in design, construction, training and policy into scalable solutions, and catalyze economies based on human health and equitable opportunity.
“The International Centres transform how we build cities, from the materials we use, to building design and construction, to the policies that set new standards for the future,” noted GBA Executive Director Jenna Cramer. “We have the unparalleled opportunity to champion cutting-edge innovation while transitioning our workforce to create a healthier future."
Prior to signing the agreement, Mayor Bill Peduto recently introduced legislation requiring that government buildings become net-zero energy efficient. Additionally, Peduto released the city’s first energy benchmark report for city-owned and operated buildings.
The adopted program represents a collaboration between the City of Pittsburgh and regional partners, developers and business leaders throughout Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
What Happens Next
Building on Pittsburgh’s 2030 District (the largest 2030 district in the world), the new center will commit to reducing landmark property energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions by 50% by 2030.
“Of all the approaches to addressing the world’s climate challenge, improving the energy performance of buildings stands out. Beyond reducing our carbon footprint, this action will enhance quality of life, reduce energy bills, improve health, create jobs and encourage innovation," explained UNECE Director of Sustainable Energy Scott Foster at Pittsburgh’s launch ceremony.
“The UN is pleased and proud to partner with Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance in support of our high-performance buildings initiative.”
To reach the agreement’s slated goals, Pittsburgh plans to host educational programs on sustainable design and construction for architects, engineers, planners and contractors. The center will also be discussing challenges in high-performance building with public and private sector leaders, providing technical and innovation assistance, advocating for energy-efficient changes in local and state policies and ensuring all people have access to clean and affordable energy.