Once known as the "Steel City" for its leadership in steel manufacturing, today's Pittsburgh has transformed into an "Emerald City," leading the way for a greener future worldwide.
Taking the lead in this effort is Pittsburgh's Green Building Alliance, a nonprofit organization that has championed the region's commitment to green architecture. The region lays claim to many buildings that are the first of their type to be certified as green, including the first convention center, banking facility, historic building, university residence hall and warehouse. In recent years, Pittsburgh's green-building leadership has been cited in The Economist, Fortune, The New York Times and USA Today.
Early on, the Green Building Alliance recognized a powerful opportunity to drive the regional market by greening the new David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Beginning in 1998, the Green Building Alliance assisted the Southwestern Pennsylvania Convention Center Design Commission in planning an international design competition. The competition used sustainability, along with functionality and aesthetics, as judging criteria. Raphael Viñoly's design was the competition's unanimous winner and has been widely acclaimed for seamlessly integrating green features into the building's specifications.
Through its current programs, the Green Building Alliance offers a range of services to help the region benefit from green building, including public policy assistance, facilitation of performance data collection, client-focused advice and tools, a Green Building Fund, a web-based clearinghouse, a variety of education events and several publications.
Pittsburgh is also home to IBACOS, a company that is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to build energy-efficient homes. In fact, the national "Building America" and "Builder''s Challenge" programs, which help homebuilders erect energy-efficient homes, were founded in Pittsburgh at IBACOS. The company is pursuing solutions to achieve 70- percent whole-house energy conservation by the year 2020, which, combined with renewable energy production, is expected to result in net-zero energy use in homes.