Posts Tagged ‘Sustainability’
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
posted by Matt Barron
With Earth Day approaching on Sunday, April 22nd, it’s a good time to think about both the strides Pittsburgh has already taken towards becoming a sustainable 21st century city and the work that remains to be done. We want to bring you a few updates about what has been accomplished over the past year as well as some big initiatives on the horizon.
The Pittsburgh Climate Initiative (PCI), a coalition of government, higher education, nonprofit, and the private sector introduced the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan in 2008. This comprehensive roadmap to sustainability set forth clear and achievable goals for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, increasing our energy efficiency, and improving our air and water quality. The conveners and stakeholders of the PCI used 2011 as a time to look back on the original plan, chart out what has been accomplished, and put in place new milestones for a more sustainable city. Councilman Peduto introduced this new plan, dubbed Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, Version 2, in Council last month and it passed with a unanimous vote.
We’ve already seen some of the tangible results of the recommendations of the Climate Action Plan. Next time you’re in your neighborhood’s business district in the evening, take a look at the new LED lights that have been installed. These bright, energy efficient new fixtures are a direct result of Councilman Peduto’s advocacy for cost-saving sustainable technology and the hard work of the participants of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative. To learn more about the new lighting code passed by City Council and the research that went into choosing the best available, most cost effective lighting technology, visit The Pittsburgh LED Project.
While the Climate Action Plan provides the policy roadmap for the future, Pittsburgh is also faced with some immediate environmental issues that we must tackle now. Chronic flooding in many of our neighborhoods has led to loss of life, economic hardship, and environmental degradation and we need both short term and long term strategies to alleviate it. After a citywide public meeting in September, Councilman Peduto began working one on one with neighborhoods in his district to identify specific flood-prone streets and intersections, map them out, and look for potential breakdowns in our water and sewer system. The results of this six-month long study were released to the leadership of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, the Mayor’s office, and the media on March 1st and action is already being taken to address the most serious problems. These short term fixes are only the first step, however. The long term strategy lies with the fantastic work of the Green Infrastructure Nework (GIN). Coordinated by The Pennsylvania Environmental Council and 3 Rivers Wet Weather, GIN is a voluntary partnership of over 35 organizations from all sectors working collaboratively to solve the region’s stormwater problems. The group is a shining example of what is possible if we pull together broad coalitions of stakeholders to work towards common goals.
A new project is also underway that will tie these efforts together and produce a set of specific policy recommendations to help us put in place a strong foundation for sustainable development. In November, Councilman Peduto’s office submitted a grant proposal to Smart Growth America for technical assistance with a sustainable zoning code review. Pittsburgh was chosen as one of only 15 municipalities across the country to receive the assistance, courtesy of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. Smart Growth America will send a team of experts to Pittsburgh for two days in May to pour through the city code and work with a diverse group of city employees, elected officials, and community stakeholders to identify barriers to innovation and help lay the groundwork for smarter, more sustainable development.
So take Earth Day as an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come but also know that there are dedicated, passionate people working every day on these issues to move us towards a more sustainable Pittsburgh.