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Sustainability & Resilience

Sustainability & Resilience

Sustainability is not just about environmental protection. It is also important that we find a careful balance between the environment, economics, and social justice.

We believe that sustainability means:

  • decreasing our impact on the environment
  • finding ways to save money
  • improving the services we provide to citizens
  • growing the economy

Energy

What is energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency is using less energy to provide the same service. If you use an Energy Star certified refrigerator, you will use less energy to provide the same service that a traditional refrigerator provides. Efficiency improvements are often the most cost-effective methods to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

 

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is generated from resources that are indefinitely replenished naturally: sunlight, wind, water, hydrogen, biomass, and geothermal heat. We also want to use cleaner sources of energy because it will be vital to creating a more sustainable city.

Each year the City of Pittsburgh purchases 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources, which is enough to power 3,500 homes per year.

 

Environment

Pittsburgh signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2007, pledging to implement local global warming solutions that will save taxpayer dollars and reduce energy use.

This commitment followed the completion of the City's first greenhouse gas inventory. A greenhouse gas inventory measures how many heat-trapping gases are being emitted from an entity and from what sources. It is a useful tool to target actions to the areas where they have the most impact.

Climate change threatens our region. The negative effects can include:

  • increased severe weather events and flooding
  • higher prices on basic goods
  • shortages of basic goods
  • a higher rate of illness
  • heat-related health problems

 

Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan

Pittsburgh is in the process of developing its third climate action plan (PCAP 3.0) to create policies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within city limits. This will lessen Pittsburgh’s contribution to global climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere and cause a rise in average global temperatures. This causes climate change that manifests in sea level rise, ice melt and many other effects. Higher levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere leads to more extreme consequences we will experience in the form of storms, droughts, flooding, extreme heating and cooling events. This will have a negative effect on ecosystems , food production, infrastructure and human health.

We have already begun to experience the effects of climate change in Pittsburgh with colder winters, and we know Pennsylvania can expect longer and hotter summers, decreased winter snowpack and increased rainfall. We need coordinated, concentrated and comprehensive

carbon mitigation action now to reduce the severity of regional impacts and prepare for a low carbon economy.

The 2013 10-year benchmark greenhouse gas inventory is currently underway to assess our carbon reduction progress and guide the development of our third Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan. Follow the process and get involved at pittsburghclimate.org.

100 Resilient Cities

100 Resilient Cities

Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growingpart of the 21st century.

100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks – earthquakes, fires, floods, etc. – but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis.

Examples of these stresses include high unemployment; an overtaxed or inefficient public transportation system; endemic violence; or chronic food and water shortages. By addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.

 

Urban Resilience

100RC defines urban resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience."

 

Resilience Network & Resources

Cities in the 100RC network are provided with the resources necessary to develop a roadmap to resilience along four main pathways:

  1. Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in city government. by establishing a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO ), who will lead the city’s resilience efforts.
  2. Expert support for development of a robust resilience strategy.
  3. Access to solutions, service providers, and partners  from the private, public and NGO sectors who can help them develop and implement their resilience strategies.
  4. Membership of a global network of member cities who can learn from and help each other.

Through these actions, 100RC aims not only to help individual cities become more resilient, but will facilitate the building of a global practice of resilience among governments, NGOs, the private sector, and individual citizens.

Resilient Pittsburgh

Why does Pittsburgh need Resilience?

Air quality issues. Inequality. Public health challenges. Flash floods. Infrastructure failure. Extreme weather.

These are just a few of the chronic stresses and acute shocks that challenge and threaten Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh has made significant progress in improving environmental stewardship and transitioning from a city in decline to a thriving hub of innovation, technology, education, and medicine. However we recognize that there is still a need for focused, inclusive efforts to ensure all Pittsburgh residents and visitors live well and succeed.

In December 2014, Pittsburgh was selected as a member of the second cohort of 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by Rockefeller Foundation (100RC)

 

What is 100RC?

100RC is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

100RC defines urban resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

Chronic stresses are the endemic issues that challenge the success of a city on a daily basis, such as inefficient transportation, crime and poverty. Acute shocks are the sudden disasters that threaten cities, such as fires, disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks.

 

Chief Resilience Officer (CRO)

The Chief Resilience Officer is responsible for engaging stakeholders from the region’s communities, local governments, civic sector, business sector, and other institutions; consult with an international platform of resilience experts; and collaborate with a global coalition of Chief Resilience Officers in cities around the world.

Pittsburgh’s Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) is a dynamic, engaging, game-changing individual in an innovative top-level advisory position in city government who reports directly to our Mayor, and guides the development of the city resilience strategy. 

Follow @ervin_grant

 

Our Team

On June 5, 2015, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto named City Sustainability Manager Grant Ervin to the position of Chief Resilience Officer (CRO).

With the support of 100 Resilient Cities, the City of Pittsburgh was able to add Senior Resilience Coordinator Rebecca Kiernan to the project team.


Pittsburgh was selected as one of ten cities to pilot the new Resilience AmeriCorps program, which means the addition of four AmeriCorps VISTA fellows over a two year period. In the first year, 2016, Emily Costello and Alexander Cupo  led  the Love Your Resilient Block (LYRB) initiative and hosted a number of community resilience events. The second year VISTA team, Leah Friedman and Michael Roth are currently working with the second cohort of LYRB and creating community resilience seminars. 

 

Our Partner

The RAND Corporation, our strategy partner, provides expertise and strategic support to the city on a wide variety of topics including resilience, infrastructure development, sustainability, climate mitigation and adaptation, water policy, public health, education and workforce issues, social equity, and economic development.

Air

Pittsburgh signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2007, pledging to implement local global warming solutions that will save taxpayer dollars and reduce energy use.

This commitment followed the completion of the City's first greenhouse gas inventory. A greenhouse gas inventory measures how many heat-trapping gases are being emitted from an entity and from what sources. It is a useful tool to target actions to the areas where they have the most impact.

Climate change threatens our region. The negative effects can include:

  • increased severe weather events and flooding
  • higher prices on basic goods
  • shortages of basic goods
  • a higher rate of illness
  • heat-related health problems

 

Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan

Pittsburgh is in the process of developing its third climate action plan (PCAP 3.0) to create policies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within city limits. This will lessen Pittsburgh’s contribution to global climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere and cause a rise in average global temperatures. This causes climate change that manifests in sea level rise, ice melt and many other effects. Higher levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere leads to more extreme consequences we will experience in the form of storms, droughts, flooding, extreme heating and cooling events. This will have a negative effect on ecosystems , food production, infrastructure and human health.

We have already begun to experience the effects of climate change in Pittsburgh with colder winters, and we know Pennsylvania can expect longer and hotter summers, decreased winter snowpack and increased rainfall. We need coordinated, concentrated and comprehensive

carbon mitigation action now to reduce the severity of regional impacts and prepare for a low carbon economy.

The 2013 10-year benchmark greenhouse gas inventory is currently underway to assess our carbon reduction progress and guide the development of our third Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan. Follow the process and get involved at pittsburghclimate.org.

Energy

What is energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency is using less energy to provide the same service. If you use an Energy Star certified refrigerator, you will use less energy to provide the same service that a traditional refrigerator provides. Efficiency improvements are often the most cost-effective methods to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

 

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is generated from resources that are indefinitely replenished naturally: sunlight, wind, water, hydrogen, biomass, and geothermal heat. We also want to use cleaner sources of energy because it will be vital to creating a more sustainable city.

Each year the City of Pittsburgh purchases 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources, which is enough to power 3,500 homes per year.

Local Food

Why is local food important?

It's estimated that the average piece of food in America travels 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate. Local food is food that is grown, processed and sold in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania.

Food that is shipped long distances takes a lot of energy to package and transport. Eating locally reduces the environmental impact of food choices.

For more information visit: The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council

 

What can you do?

Community Gardens

Community gardens are open to everyone and provide green space in urban areas. They are usually managed and maintained by members of the local community or a non-profit group. Community gardens provide access to fresh produce and plants while bringing communities together. You can learn more about community gardens in Pittsburgh through Grow Pittsburgh.

Backyard Gardens

Flower and vegetable gardens grown on residential property create green space that can reduce storm water runoff, capture carbon and provide wildlife habitat. Backyard gardens can also provide free, healthy food. Growing your own food reduces your carbon footprint, while providing healthy food. To learn more about starting your own garden, check out information from the Penn State Cooperative Extension or Phipp's Conservatory.

CSAs: Community-Supported Agriculture

A CSA is an arrangement that connects consumers and growers. Community members who belong to a CSA provide the capital necessary to support a farming enterprise. In exchange, they receive a weekly shipment of fruits and vegetables, and sometimes dairy and meat. In this model, the growers and the consumers share both the benefits and the risks of growing food. More information on finding local foods close to your home can be found at www.buylocalpa.org.

Community Connections

We have many community partners who care about the environment and sustainability as much as we do. Below, our partners are organized into subject areas.

Climate Protection

Environmental Health

Gardening and Horticulture

Green Building

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Green Purchasing

Local Environmental, Conservation, and Advocacy Groups

Measuring Your Environmental Footprint

Outdoor Recreation

Renewable Energy

Reuse, Recycling and Composting

Stormwater Management

Volunteer Opportunities