2019 Pittsburgh 2030 District Progress Report

The Road to 2030

As a founding member of the 2030 Districts Network and the largest District to date, Pittsburgh is setting international standards for best practices in sustainable building. Founded in 2012, Pittsburgh represents 17.3% of all committed square feet in North America, including Philadelphia, Seattle, and Toronto. The District’s robust network of 556 properties (representing more than 86.3 million square feet) has saved $154 million and avoided over 1.5 million metric tons of CO2e to date.

As we enter the final ten years on the road to 2030, we are reminded of the importance of building the Pittsburgh 2030 District to meet the ever-changing needs of the future. This could not be done without the dedication and collaboration of our Property Partners and District Affiliates. Solving today’s problems with tomorrow’s solutions is the goal of every one of our partners and has been the reason why the Pittsburgh 2030 District is successful.

What are the 2030 Challenge Goals? 

The Pittsburgh 2030 District follows the 2030 Challenge for Planning, a framework created by Architecture 2030 to drastically improve buildings’ environmental impact by 2030. Through separate goals for new construction and existing buildings, the 2030 Challenge sets rigorous but achievable reduction targets in five-year increments.

New construction and major renovation projects commit to carbon neutrality by 2030, while existing buildings pursue 50% reductions in energy use below national baselines. Both new and existing buildings commit to 50% reductions in water use and transportation emissions below regional baselines.

Measuring Performance & District Results

To measure progress toward 2030 Challenge goals, the Pittsburgh 2030 District relies on comprehensive data collection and analysis. Individual property’s performance metrics are aggregated to find District reductions in energy, water, and transportation emissions, in addition to improvements in indoor air quality.

Determining a building’s resource reduction requires an initial point of comparison, known as the building’s baseline. Using the best available data, each building is assigned an initial baseline value, which takes into account various features depending on the metric.

Below is just a snapshot of the District results – to see the full results, read the full report here!


In 2019, properties reduced total District energy to 23.1% below baseline, surpassing the 2020 interim goal of the 2030 Challenge. The District avoided over 194,000 metric tons of CO2e, the equivalent electricity use of more than 17,700 homes. Property Partners saved $34 million in energy costs this year.



In 2019, Property Partners reduced total water use to 19.8% below baseline, avoiding 274 million gallons of water or almost 16 million showers. Significant increases in local water and sewage rates are compelling building owners to shift their focus towards water conservation.



Commuter choices avoided approximately 77,265 tons of CO2 in 2018. This equates to about $3.86 million in social cost savings, using the Environmental Defense Fund’s SCC estimate of $50 per ton of carbon. For those commuting to Downtown or Oakland by driving alone, each driver’s emissions amounted to about $114 in social cost annually. In comparison, a bus rider’s emissions cost about $42 each year. If 5,000 drivers were to switch to the bus, this would result in a social cost reduction of $360,000.


Indoor Air Quality

In a complete redesign of 2017’s IAQ survey, the 2019 version focused on individual building’s results. This dataset provides an inside look at what practices Pittsburgh building owners and managers have taken to improve indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality doesn’t have a baseline. There is a lack of hard data on levels of indoor pollutants because so few buildings in the District have IAQ monitors. To collect information from more buildings and increase access to this metric, the Pittsburgh 2030 District created a survey based on research of best practices in multiple building rating systems and a pilot study conducted with the University of Pittsburgh.

The 2030 Challenge goals are more important than ever before. We are now 10 years away from 2030 and the Pittsburgh 2030 District is driving the region and leading the world toward a healthier, resilient, and more sustainable future.

As our world continues to adjust to the new reality brought on by COVID-19, it is given us the time to reflect on how we should evolve through this crisis. It is a reminder that the choices we make to improve the built environment increase human health, environmental health, and strengthen the economy. The world we go back to simply cannot look like the world we left.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District and our vast network of Partners and sponsors have laid the foundation for this new, brighter future. This year, we are happy to report that the District surpassed its 2020 interim goals in energy and transportation and are on track to do so for water. It also highlights the Partners’ design and operational best practices and programs that prioritize healthy indoor environments with the updated indoor air quality metric. Together, we are working to make the Pittsburgh region and beyond a stronger, healthier, higher performing place to live. We hope you will join us in our efforts and celebrate our partners by reading this report.


The Pittsburgh 2030 District is sponsored by…