Pittsburgh Establishes International Centre of Excellence

A green building.

In September, the United Nations Economic Council on Europe (UNECE) and Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance (GBA) agreed to establish Pittsburgh’s International Centre of Excellence on High Performance Buildings. Following New York City, Pittsburgh will be the second Centre of Excellence in the nation working toward solutions to reduce the effects of climate change.

Targeting buildings is particularly important, as they use more than 70% of the electrical power generated and are responsible for 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to UNECE.

“We have the unparalleled opportunity to champion cutting-edge innovation while transitioning our workforce to create a healthier future,” said Jenna Cramer, GBA executive director.

The center is part of Pittsburgh’s efforts to meet the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include principles for affordable and clean energy; industry, innovation and infrastructure; and climate action amongst other social, economic and environmental goals. 

The goals are not prescriptive because of the diverse circumstances around the world, however, the center will lead others in best practices in design, construction, training and policy. For example, buildings must be performance-monitored and financed through policies that understand the importance of constructing more efficient buildings. These buildings must also cost the same as or less than they did in 2016, and it must be understood that the buildings and their environments are part of the same system.

The center will build on Pittsburgh’s existing 2030 District, which is a community that supports building owners as they work towards 50% reduction of emissions and consumptions while improving indoor air quality by 2030.

Besides its standards on buildings and reducing carbon emissions, the sustainable development goals also work to ensure that all people have access to affordable, clean energy. It is expected that other ideas of how to make this energy more accessible to people of all economic backgrounds will come out of Pittsburgh’s center.

“Ultimately, we believe measuring the efforts of the City and our partners work will help better align resources, proactively create smarter public policies and improve operations of the City,” said Grant Ervin chief resilience officer for Pittsburgh.

In developing the center along with other initiatives Pittsburgh aims to improve residents’ quality of life and livability by 2030.          

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