Higher education institutions play an influential role in the health, resilience, and future of our region. Pittsburgh’s universities are sustainability leaders on many levels: ideologically, in the ways they teach; operationally, in the ways they use energy and run their buildings; and locally, in the ways they interact with their communities.
Colleges and universities directly impact their surroundings, from economic drivers and influence on tax bases, to helping businesses succeed and encouraging community involvement. For instance, Point Park University’s $244 million Academic Village Initiative will transform and green the school’s campus and Downtown. At Duquesne University, MBA students work on projects that provide sustainability recommendations for corporate and nonprofit partners. University of Pittsburgh projects include students designing greenhouses, workshops for K-12 schools, and having staff and faculty complete local sustainability projects for United Way’s Day of Caring.
Internally, universities are leaders in adopting greener practices to defray energy costs and more. Carnegie Mellon University boasts 13 LEED certified projects on campus, with another four in the works. Duquesne University cut energy use by 50 percent in its Forbes Garage by installing new light fixtures. Carlow University reduced energy use by 19 percent in its new LEED Silver University Commons. The University of Pittsburgh avoided $46 million in energy costs since 1996.
Most importantly, education institutions prepare and cultivate students to invest in the future of our region. Instilling sustainable values in students leads them to seek those values in their workplaces, communities, homes, and lives. Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability creates leaders in sustainability by bringing those values to every aspect of students’ education, including on its 388-acre, self-sustaining Eden Hall Campus. Carnegie Mellon has integrated sustainability into all of its colleges; evidence of its dedication to the environment is everywhere on campus, including six green roofs and real-time electricity data for resident halls available online.
Pittsburgh’s schools and their commitment to sustainability as a value are part of what makes Pittsburgh an economic leader and global competitor. Shifts in operations save money, reduce energy use, and set an example for businesses, faculty, staff, students, and the world.