General Information

What is the Pittsburgh 2030 District?

The Pittsburgh 2030 District is an internationally-recognized, locally-driven, voluntary initiative that encourages business owners and facility managers in Downtown and Oakland to work collectively and collaboratively toward lower energy, water and transportation use – to save money and to increase each buildings’ operational efficiency as part of the aggregated collective. Property Partners are supported in their pursuit of 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by a host of Community and Resource Partners. The Pittsburgh 2030 District is part of the 2030 Districts Network and an initiative of the Green Building Alliance, a nationally recognized non-profit located in the Southside of Pittsburgh for almost two decades.


Why is Pittsburgh pursuing the 2030 Challenge?

The 2030 Challenge is good for the local economy and a way to address growing concerns for the environment. Around 35% of total US electricity consumption happens in commercial buildings. As Pittsburgh prepares for a resilient and sustainable future, improving commercial building performance is a crucial step. As a long-time leader in green buildings, Pittsburgh is taking the next step to maintain a strong local economy, improve health and wellbeing, and reduce negative effects on the environment.


Who participates in the Pittsburgh 2030 District?

The Pittsburgh 2030 District connects four types of partners: Property Partners, Community Partners, Resources Partners and District Affiliates.

Property Partners are building owners and property managers of commercial buildings committed to pursuing the goals of the 2030 Challenge that exist within the Pittsburgh 2030 District boundary of Downtown, Uptown, Oakland, and the Northside.

Community and Resource Partners are local organizations who lend their expertise and services to the Property Partners, supporting them in their pursuit of the 2030 Challenge goals.

District Affiliates are properties that exist outside the aforementioned Pittsburgh 2030 District boundary, but still reside in Western PA. Affiliates sign onto the same 2030 Challenge goals of the Property Partners and get similar benefits.

Partners can commit to the challenge in two key ways: 1) Property owners and managers can sign on as Property Partners and commit to taking steps to reach the 2030 Challenge goals in their own buildings and 2) Local organizations can sign on as Community or Resource Partners in order to lend expertise or assistance to the Property Partners to make these goals attainable.

If you're a building owner or facilities manager in Pittsburgh or Western PA, you're invited to join us! Please see Prospective Partners or Contact Us for more information.


How does the District fit with other national building performance initiatives?

The Pittsburgh 2030 District leverages the goals of the international 2030 Challenge, with an added healthy building target. This comprehensive, place-based initiative is working to measurably transform a large cohort of buildings into a sustainable community via an innovative, visible, large-scale initiative unique to and reflective of Pittsburgh.

Building on the best elements of existing national sustainable community and energy initiatives like the 2030 Challenge and DOE's Better Buildings Challenge, the Pittsburgh 2030 District is also working to add critical performance criteria related to indoor air quality that will establish healthy, high performance practices and measures on a community scale, while providing a replicable model for other communities in Western Pennsylvania and beyond.


How does the District fit with other local environmental initiatives?

With over 45 Community and Resource Partners, the Pittsburgh 2030 District and its convening organization, Green Building Alliance, work together with other Pittsburgh environmental initiatives. These Partners bring their professional and organizational experience, expertise, programs, and initiatives to support District Property Partners, while using their involvement to enrich other local, regional, and national offerings. Pittsburgh 2030 District goals are based on national and District baselines and create high standards for a quality of life and economic prosperity for all Pittsburghers.

In 2017, Mayor Bill Peduto issued an executive order, committing to their 2030 objectives, as announced during the Paris summit:

  • Achieving 100 Percent Renewable Electricity Consumption for Municipal Operations
  • A City Wide Zero Waste Initiative to divert 100 Percent of Materials from Land Fill
  • Fifty percent energy consumption reduction city wide
  • Development of a Fossil Fuel Free Fleet
  • Divestment of the City's Pension Assets from Fossil Based Companies
  • Fifty percent water consumption citywide
  • Fifty percent transportation emissions reduction city wide

The Pittsburgh 2030 District will help to achieve this goal for City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County properties, as well as focus regional building performance on new targets that carry progress to 2030 and beyond. For more information, visit Pittsburgh Climate Initiative and read the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, which recommends actions across the government, business, higher education, and community sectors that are bringing Greater Pittsburgh closer to its greenhouse gas reduction goal. The Pittsburgh 2030 District and all of its partners are taking action to reduce air emissions of all kinds through partnership with the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative and The Breathe Project -- and so can you.


How is the Pittsburgh 2030 District different from the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge (formerly known as the Green Workplace Challenge)?

Sustainable Pittsburgh started the Green Workplace Challenge in 2011 to help the business sector save money and reduce emissions by using energy more efficiently, thus contributing to the primary goal of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan.

Now known at the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge, the program is a year-long friendly challenge where organizations receive due recognition for their actions and achievements in a variety of categories (including energy and water tracking, organizational policies, event sustainability, waste tracking, and social equity). Actions that demonstrate measurable change provide companies with a baseline for future comparison.

As a Community Partner of the Pittsburgh 2030 District, Sustainable Pittsburgh and GBA encourage Property Partners to participate in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge as a launch pad for achieving and tracking their progress towards Pittsburgh 2030 District goals.

Both the Pittsburgh 2030 District and the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge are part of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative collaboration and Green Building Alliance is on the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge Oversight Committee.


How is the Pittsburgh 2030 District different from the City of Pittsburgh Building Benchmarking Legislation?

Building benchmarking is mandatory legislation from the City of Pittsburgh and requires owners of nonresidential buildings over 50,000 square feet (or portions of mixed use buildings with at least 50,000 square feet of nonresidential space) to submit complete whole building energy and water usage to the city on an annual basis. Learn more about this legislation.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District is a voluntary program. If requested, GBA can assist property owners and managers in complying with the legislation.


Property Partners

What are the benefits of participation?

High performing buildings are good for business. By responsibly managing energy and water usage, Property Partners can save money on utility bills. By investing in building health and occupant comfort, building owners have been shown to increase occupant retention, satisfaction, and productivity. Finally, participating in the challenge means helping to build Pittsburgh's reputation as a great place to live, work, learn, and play. Continuing to be the most livable city will help Pittsburgh continue to attract new businesses and residents to the city. Generously supported by foundations and sponsors, participation in the Pittsburgh 2030 District is provided to Property, Community, and Resource Partners at no cost.


Will my building data become public?

GBA keeps all individual data confidential and does not share it with other Partners or third parties without consent from the building owner/property manager.


How do I join the Pittsburgh 2030 District?

Prospective Partners and District Affiliates can take the first step to joining the 2030 District by signing a commitment pledge. Join us to demonstrate to the world why Pittsburgh is and continues to be the most livable city. Contact Us for more information.


What happens after I pledge my building(s) to the challenge?

When you commit your building(s), you are pledging to work towards the 2030 District performance targets. The program is non-prescriptive; Property Partners implement the solutions that work for their facilities. You will receive invitations to different educational events which showcase projects performed by other participants as well as local and regional information relevant to your work. GBA staff offer an annual one-on-one meeting to review your individual performance and they can connect you to information, resources, and financing; suggest projects; and introduce you others who have done similar work.


What if I don’t reach the goals by 2030?

The goals are inspirational and attainable. The 50% reduction goals are also for the entire District in aggregate. By 2030, some Partners will have exceeded the goal, and others will be continuing the work. Property Partners are encouraged to continue improving building performance even if they surpass their goals before 2030.

Each building’s performance starts at a different point. GBA keeps your individual building performance confidential, helping you along the way without risk of negative exposure.


How hard will it be to meet Pittsburgh 2030 District targets?

In the next 10+ years, many building systems and components will reach the end of their expected useful life. These times are a great opportunity to invest in high-efficiency options. While these occasionally have a higher capital cost, property managers are finding remarkably reduced operating costs, often with payback periods of only a few years. Reaching the 2030 District goals will undoubtedly be a challenge. It will require building owners and managers to change the way they manage and invest in their buildings.

For 25 years, Green Building Alliance has proven that high performance buildings are fiscally, environmentally, and socially responsible. As the convener of the Pittsburgh 2030 District, GBA and the partners of the Pittsburgh 2030 District strongly believe that with a detailed action plan, a property owner or manager committed to 2030 District targets can meet these objectives through a variety of mechanisms that include existing products and technology, best practices, occupant behavior modification, financing opportunities, building performance information, and by learning from each other.

No single partner of the Pittsburgh 2030 District pretends to have all the answers, but by learning from each other, the District can succeed as a whole. By forging partnerships, collaborating, and utilizing our local and national network of resources, we're working to make key changes to the way buildings are designed, constructed, operated, and maintained--in real time.


Building Performance

What is “building performance”?

Building performance is a measure of the amount of resources your building consumes per square foot. It is calculated with metrics like Energy Use Intensity (EUI, or annual kBtu/sq ft) or Water Use Intensity (WUI, or annual gallons/sq ft). Using a standardized measurement like EUI enables the comparison of buildings of similar uses but different sizes. It also allows property managers to track changes in consumption over time, separate from utility costs.


What is a “use type”?

The baseline for a building depends on its “use type”. An office, for example, uses a different amount of energy and water than a typical restaurant, parking garage, or stadium. It is important to evaluate the performance of these buildings separately since each type of building has different energy and water needs. This way, offices are only compared to offices, and parking garages only to other parking garages.


How are the performance baselines calculated?

Each building’s performance is compared to a baseline which gives us an idea of how the building stacks up against similar buildings in the region or in the nation. Our energy baseline is based on the Department of Energy’s 2003 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). For some buildings with unique uses, historical usage is used as a baseline.


Why does building performance matter?

High performance buildings have proven track records of simultaneously increasing business and property profitability, reducing environmental impacts, and improving occupant health.


How does the Pittsburgh 2030 District measure building performance?

The Pittsburgh 2030 District uses four metrics to evaluate building performance: energy usage, water usage, transportation emissions, and indoor air quality. Property Partners share energy and water use with GBA via Portfolio Manager, EPA’s free online benchmarking tool. GBA also collects transportation and IAQ data using surveys.


How do I improve my building performance?

Improving building performance involves taking a close look at how your building(s) use energy and water. Efficient fixtures and systems are important to trim consumption (and save money) while delivering the same service. Partners often pursue upgrades to lighting fixtures, HVAC systems, and restroom fixtures. Formal energy audits can help in identifying which improvements are right for a particular building.