Encouragement from a Green Patriarch, Living Building Challenges, and More

The historic Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, site of the popular Greek Food Festival, hosted Pittsburgh 2030 District Partners for the December Partner Meeting. In addition to learning what drives their efforts, we also heard from the Watt Choices Public Agency Partnership Program, the City of Pittsburgh’s Office of Sustainability & Resilience, and from the people who built the Frick Environmental Center.

What We Learned

  • st-nicholasSaint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. Remodeled in 1977 to better serve the community, the cathedral added a large hall, offices, classrooms, kitchen, and gymnasium. Over the years, the congregation has implemented environmental initiatives that continue to improve energy efficiency. They are encouraged in their endeavors by the “Green Patriarch” and leader of Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who advocates for the care of Creation with a particular focus on climate change.
  • Who is eligible to participate in the Public Agency Partnership Program as part of Duquesne Light’s Watt Choices program? Government, healthcare, education, nonprofits, and public entities are all welcome! Duquesne Light has partnered with MCR Performance Solutions to assist in identifying projects, making recommendations, and completing the rebate paperwork – making the process simple from start to finish.
  • The City of Pittsburgh recently joined the City Energy Project. This national initiative works to create healthier and more prosperous cities by improving the energy efficiency of buildings. The Office of Sustainability & Resilience has big goals, including educating building owners, recording energy performance information (particularly as it relates to the recent Building Benchmarking Legislation), and creating incentive programs to encourage and assist under-performing buildings. Another goal? Advocating for better building codes – Pennsylvania has some of the highest building insurance rates due to outdated codes!
  • The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, along with architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and construction management PJ Dick, gave insight into the, well, challenge of the Living Building Challenge. With an original goal of achieving LEED Silver certification, the Parks Conservancy ultimately decided to go for LEED Platinum and the Living Building Challenge. Living Building Challenge is the most rigorous building certification, and the team adopted several different processes in order to achieve success. The Red List, 23 chemicals that the International Living Future Institute calls “the worst in class materials prevalent in the building industry,” required PJ Dick to research 90% of building products prior to being confident they could provide fair and correct guaranteed pricing. They also required sub-contractors to receive education on the requirements of the Living Building Challenge, as many are not yet familiar with the details. Overall, the team recommended integrated design, bringing the owner, architects, and contractors together as early as possible.
  • pwsa-increasesMajor projects to get in your 2017 budget? Your water bill is going up, so consider water efficiency measures. PWSA has approved a 13% rate increase for customers taking effect January 2017. Rates are expected to increase another 8% in 2018. The Allegheny County Sewer Authority is also increasing their rates by 11% in 2017. What does this mean? If you own a large commercial building with an annual water+sewer bill of $100,000 in 2015, you can expect to be paying a bill of $135,789 come 2018. It’ll affect you at home, too. Residential customers will, on average, pay an extra $120 in 2017.

Thank you to our hosts, Father Christopher Bender and Greg Countouris from Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and to our presenters, Cynthia Menhorn from MCR Performance Solutions, Aftyn Giles from the City of Pittsburgh, Shawn Fertitta from Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Noah Shaltes from PJ Dick, and Patty Culley from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Each month, the Pittsburgh 2030 District holds a Partner Meeting convening Property Partners, Community and Resource Partners, sponsors and other stakeholders to discuss the latest relevant happenings and information for the city. Meetings give building owners and facility managers the opportunity to share their successes and challenges. Additional speakers present industry information and updates on a variety of critical topics. It’s a closed-door, monthly forum where partners learn from each other with peer-to-peer dialogue and plan collaboratively for a sustainable and efficient future.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District’s goal is to have 100% property participation in the District’s boundaries. Join us! Visit our FAQs for more program information and our contact page with questions.

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