Pittsburgh Ranked as America's 'Greenest' City

Provider: Green Building Alliance

Once described by journalist James Parton as "hell with the lid off," Pittsburgh today reached a milestone in its continued environmental renaissance. The Green Building Alliance (GBA) announced that Pittsburgh is currently the greenest city in America, based on the number of Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) rated commercial/industrial buildings and square-footage within the city limits.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the LEED Green Building Rating System is a national standard to assess building environmental performance. Buildings qualify for one of four levels of LEED certification – Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Pittsburgh leads the nation with four LEED-certified projects totaling approximately 2.24 million square feet.

Mayor Tom Murphy commented, "We are delighted to have Pittsburgh leading the country in this area because it reflects our economic and environmental transition from rust belt to green belt. These successes are only the beginning, as green building becomes a key component of our economic development strategy."

Rebecca Flora, executive director of the GBA, said of Pittsburgh's accomplishment, "Pittsburgh's foundation community, most notably the Heinz Endowments, has partnered with business and government leaders to create an unprecedented infrastructure of green development organizations. As a result, the city has a unique diversity of over 30 projects in the LEED system, including our convention center, facilities for banking, medical and manufacturing uses, an historic building, a dormitory and a convent. Leaders in many different sectors have come to recognize the long-term value of green. We have not used government regulation as a driver, as other regions have done."

Pittsburgh's LEED-certified buildings include the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the first convention center to be certified green, New House Residence Hall at Carnegie Mellon University, PNC Firstside Center and KSBA Architects Office. Two additional LEED-certified projects are outside city limits but within the surrounding county, Siemens' Westinghouse Fuel Cell Plant and Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank.

The nation's first building was certified under LEED in 2000. In 2003, five percent of new commercial and high-rise construction was registered with LEED, totaling 139 billion square feet of space. This promises to escalate as decision makers recognize the long-term value added by green building practices. New York, Oregon and Maryland offer tax credits for new construction that meets LEED standards. The U.S. General Services Administration, the nation's largest landlord which leases or owns over 8,000 buildings to provide workspace for over 1 million federal employees, requires that all new federal building projects meet the criteria for Silver LEED certification.

"The market transformation to green design and construction is well underway. It is exciting to see Pittsburgh, with its industrial past, become the national leader in adopting LEED," said Christine Ervin, president and CEO of USGBC. Pittsburgh's green buildings continue a regional tradition of environmental goals linked to economic development as a means to improving quality of life. The tradition began in the 1950s with environmental cleanup and rebuilding and was further established in the 1980s with innovative brownfield redevelopment. Howard Heinz Endowment Chairman Teresa Heinz noted, "Pittsburgh's commitment to green design is raising its quality of life and making our community even more attractive as a place to live and work. We should be proud of everything our community has done so far and redouble our efforts to maintain Pittsburgh's status as the national pacesetter in green building."

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