According to GBA’s very first strategic plan, the organization was formed with the long-term mission of changing building practices through education, outreach, and networking. GBA’s current focus on its Green and Healthy Schools Academy, Pittsburgh 2030 District, education, technical assistance, and policy (along with former initiatives DASH, Online Learning and Knowledge Network) shows that those founding objectives are still being pursued today. Looking back, the organization’s work over the past two decades has demonstrated success in all the original focus areas.

Throughout its more than 20-year history, GBA has developed a multitude of initiatives that have transformed the Western Pennsylvania green building landscape. Take a moment to explore them and learn about the impact they’ve had on the region.

David L. Lawrence Convention Center

David L. Lawrence Convention Center: A Study of Building Operations Beyond LEED Certification

One of Pittsburgh’s hallmark green buildings, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC) has garnered national and international attention and acclaim for Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. When it opened in 2003, the DLCC was the world’s largest green building and the first LEED-certified convention center in the world.

Constructed with public money and owned by a public authority, the DLCC takes its LEED certification seriously – and has not rested on its original achievements. In a two-year process from 2009 through 2011, GBA led a local project that analyzed the DLCC’s green features, performance, and operations – past, present, and future.

DLCC Building Performance Case Study Final Report (November 2011)
Today, it’s not just built green, but works green every day. In April 2012, the DLCC achieved LEED Platinum for its operations and maintenance under LEED-EBOM – the first convention center to do so and the largest building in the world to be LEED certified across its life cycle at a Gold or higher level.

Starting in 2009, GBA led the process to frame, fund, and perform this building operations and performance case study.  The DLCC case study project team included:

  • Carnegie Mellon University, Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics
  • Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc.
  • CJL Engineering
  • evolve environment::architecture (evolveEA)
  • Green Building Alliance
  • SMG
  • Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (SEA)

The DLCC is owned by SEA and is operated by SMG, which manages event venues all over the world. The case study was primarily funded by The Heinz Endowments, with support from SEA.

The full DLCC building performance report evaluates the DLCC’s performance, benchmarks it against other convention centers, and provides recommendations to improve operations and marketing efforts. One highlight from the study was that 38% of DLCC revenues since 2006 have come from green-seeking events, which brought approximately $144 million in direct spending to the region. It was also demonstrated that the DLCC is operating more efficiently than initial energy models predicted and is a leader in water use, waste source reduction, and overall occupant satisfaction.

Accounting for both electricity and steam use, since 2005 the DLCC has saved between 20 million to 25 million kWh, which represents an average annual energy savings of 15.5% and translates to a reduction of 15,000 to 19,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on average utility rates from 2005 to 2010, this equates to over $2.1 million in utility cost savings, comparable to removing over 3,000 cars from the road for a year or eliminating the amount of electricity required to power in excess of 2,000 homes annually.

For More Information:

DOWNLOAD: DLCC Building Performance Case Study Final Report (November 2011)

Press Coverage

Pittsburgh Climate Initiative

Pittsburgh Climate Initiative: A Plan for Reducing Greenhouse Gases in the City of Bridges

Through the Pittsburgh 2030 District, GBA is a partner of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative (PCI), which is a collaborative partnership in the Pittsburgh region to reduce greenhouse gases through measurable actions.  Pittsburgh’s overall reduction goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 2003 levels by 2023.

Who is Collaborating?

From 2008 onward, PCI has taken responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Allegheny County by implementing the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan and measuring its progress. GBA convened both the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative and the Higher Education Climate Consortium (HECC) from 2008 through early 2012. Participants have and still include:

Pittsburgh Climate Resources

  • Pittsburgh Climate Initiative (Implementation, 2008 – present)
  • Pittsburgh Climate Action Plans
  • Pittsburgh Greenhouse Gas Inventories
    • 2008 Pittsburgh Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory: A Five-Year Benchmark, (2010)
    • Pittsburgh Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, (December 2006; uses 2003 data)
  • Green Government Task Force (2006 – 2008)

History of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative

In 2006, Pittsburgh formed the Green Government Task Force (GGTF) to discuss city sustainability opportunities.  This task force of local stakeholders was led by co-chairs:  Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto, and Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo, and was convened by Green Building Alliance.

Also in 2006, GBA oversaw compilation of Pittsburgh’s first greenhouse gas inventory, performed by Carnegie Mellon University students using 2003 data. Using this inventory as a baseline, GGTF facilitated open discussions with Pittsburgh’s government employees, businesses, community members, and universities to help create the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, Version 1.0.  This action plan set a citywide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 2003 levels by 2023.

In August 2008, the city of Pittsburgh adopted the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan as a guiding document.  In late 2008, the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative partnership began implementing the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, and in mid-2009 Allegheny County joined the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative in working towards countywide greenhouse gas emission reductions.

In 2010, PCI worked to create the 2008 Pittsburgh Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, which fed into the creation of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, Version 2, that was unanimously endorsed by Pittsburgh City Council and signed by the mayor in March 2012.

Prepared in 2010 and 2011 by the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative Partners and a wide number of other stakeholders, the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, Version 2 reviews local greenhouse gas reduction measures already undertaken and proposes new measures that these sectors can implement in order to help meet the local greenhouse gas reduction target of 20% below 2003 levels by 2023.

The updated Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan follows a framework similar to its predecessor by organizing recommendations in the following sectors:  government, business, community, and higher education.  Recommendations were developed by the leading committee for each sector, which included:

  • City of Pittsburgh Sustainability Commission
  • Business Climate Coalition
  • Black and Gold City Goes Green Community Partners
  • Higher Education Climate Consortium

Additionally, in the updated Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, the government sector was expanded to include three city of Pittsburgh authorities: Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP), Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), and Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA).

Green Building Products Initiative

Green Building Products Initiative:  Growing the PA Green Building Product Economy

GBA developed the Green Building Products Initiative (GBPI) in 2006 with Philadelphia University after recognizing the need for quality local green building products in Pennsylvania.  At that time, GBA was one of only a handful of organizations nationally that realized the expanding market opportunity that green buildings represented for product manufacturers.

Today, GBA has incorporated GBPI work into its Knowledge Network, which includes GBA handouts, resources, staff expertise, networking, stakeholders, and events.

GBPI was generously funded by:

  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority
  • The Heinz Endowments
  • Richard King Mellon Foundation

GBPI Goals GBPI’s goals were to grow the Pennsylvania green building product economy and drive green building product innovation.  GBA’s attainment of these objectives continues to be measured by the conceptualization and commercialization of new or improved products, and by increased sales of the region’s green building products, ultimately leading to job growth.

GBA used GBPI to directly assist PA manufacturers by:

  • Exploring green market opportunities related to specific product lines
  • Offering green training events and information exchanges with peers and professionals
  • Providing consultations with GBA staff and industry experts for one-on-one assistance with green building issues
  • Evaluating existing products to determine green strengths and weaknesses
  • Innovating new products with the help of GBA’s Product Innovation Grant program
  • Listing products in GBA’s online PA Green Building Product Directory – where architects, designers and specifiers can find them
  • Helping manufacturers learn how to transition to and operate as a sustainable company
  • Advocating for the advancement of the green building industry by creating a collective voice and marketing campaign for green building product manufacturers.

Product Innovation Grant Program: Pioneers in Green Building Products

In an effort to create pioneering green building products that contribute to Western Pennsylvania’s many green buildings, GBA created its Product Innovation Grant program, which fostered innovation and economic development in Pennsylvania by supporting partnerships between industry and academia. Through five competitive rounds of funding from 2007 through 2011, GBA awarded over $1.2 million in Product Innovation Grants to 24 projects that sought to translate sustainable principles into Pennsylvania-manufactured building products and technologies.

GBA’s Product Innovation Grants built on Pennsylvania’s intellectual capital by providing the gap funding required to bring green products from the research and development phase to the building product market so regional specifiers could start using local products in local green building projects. The intent was to support the final commercialization steps for tangible building products or processes that contribute to the economic, environmental, and social benefits of green buildings.

GBA continues to track and report on the progress and success made by these projects, which were selected through five competitive grant rounds.  Learn more about each of the GBA Product Innovation Grant recipients.

Replicating this program in other locations could help create and provide wonderful support and networks for green building product innovation, regional capacity and competitiveness, and economic development opportunities. Convening people throughout the green building industry can lead to truly understanding which green building technologies and innovations are scientifically possible, can be supported by the economic marketplace, and will provide the social and environmental benefits green buildings demand.

Organizations interested in using GBA’s Product Innovation Grant program as a model for regional product commercialization success should contact GBA.

Product Innovation Grant Recipient Resources

In reporting to GBA, past and current GBA Product Innovation Grants recipients should use the Status Report Template  and reference GBA’s Request for Proposals from Round #5 of the Product Innovation Grant program.  All other questions should be directed to GBA via email or by calling (412) 773-6000.

Product Innovation Grant Funders

GBA’s Product Innovation Grant program was made possible by the following funders:

  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority
  • Richard King Mellon Foundation
  • The Heinz Endowments

Product Innovation Grant Recipients

GBA extends congratulations to recipients of its Product Innovation Grants.  Through four Product Innovation Grant rounds, 24 recipients received a total of over $1.2 million in grants.

From 2004 through 2011, GBA’s Product Innovation Grants were awarded to industry/university partnerships to assist in green building product innovation and commercialization.  Grants were awarded at both the $100,000 Full grant and $20,000 Proof of Concept levels.

More information about these projects that seek to develop and introduce new and enhanced green building products to the marketplace is available below.

Press Releases

  • GBA Product Innovation Grants, Round #5 – May 2011, Press Release
  • GBA Product Innovation Grants, Grant Round #4 – June 2009, Press Release
  • GBA Product Innovation Grants, Grant Round #3 – January 2009, Press Release
  • GBA Product Innovation Grants, Grant Round #2 – July 2008, Press Release
  • GBA Product Innovation Grants, Grant Round #1 – December 2007, Press Release

Full Product Innovation Grants

Proof of Concept Product Innovation Grants

  • Fall 2007

DASH (Database for Analyzing Sustainable and High Performance Buildings

DASH Database

ABOUT: What is DASH?

DASH is the now-retired Database for Analyzing Sustainable and High Performance Buildings, GBA’s web-based software program to track building performance across the triple bottom line. DASH aimed to improve evidence-based decision making in the high performance building marketplace by facilitating the consistent collection of measurable data about green, sustainable, high performance, and aspiring-toward-high-performance buildings through a collaboration of existing databases, organizations, companies, and researchers.

IMPACT: How did DASH Improve the Region?

GBA developed DASH in response to the building industry’s need to collect more information in one location about building design, operation, maintenance, and performance.

DASH worked to fill a building performance gap in the national building marketplace by offering a user-friendly interface that links building performance data across the triple-bottom line.

More simply, it aspired to put analytics behind decision making for all buildings.

GBA designed DASH to improve the entire building community on a national scale. It improved evidence-based decision making in the high performance building marketplace by:

  • Being a national repository of triple-bottom-line building performance data
  • Enabling the consistent collection of quantitative data about all buildings of all types
  • Facilitating real-time reporting and analysis based on this data

DETAILS: Where to Learn More

Though the program has been discontinued, you can take a look at it at and find:

  • DASH’s functionality and features
  • The history of GBA’s DASH efforts
  • Former news and updates

Green Building Product Certification Course

green building product certification

ABOUT: What is GBA Online Learning?

GBA Learning was a response to the need for an easily accessible and engaging delivery system for green building training and information. This initiative provided a comprehensive, course-based online tool for professionals in the construction and manufacturing fields.

By leveraging its advanced knowledge of green building products, GBA offered an online course entitled “Green Building Product Certifications & Labeling.” This tool was designed to provide valuable information that could assist product manufacturers in making vital decisions about green building product certifications and labeling in an engaging and fun way.

IMPACT: How did GBA Learning Improve the Region?

GBA is uniquely qualified to deliver informative online learning courses that speak to a variety of professionals who are interested or already engaged in the green building industry.

The “Green Building Product Certifications & Labeling Course” was available to everyone and:

  • Helped users navigate the hundreds of labels and certifications on the market
  • Offered users important information on adding credibility to their products
  • Reduced “greenwashing” by ensuring that manufacturers are verifying the sustainability of their products

Knowledge Network

Green Network Knowledge

ABOUT:  What is the Knowledge Network?

GBA generates programming and events for its members’ educational and networking needs. With more than 200 events a year, GBA works to build the region’s green building capacity through presentations, building tours, webinars, lunch & learns, and LEED test preparation courses. GBA also has a plethora of in-person and online resources including case studies; topical fact sheets; and product, project, and service directories. The Knowledge Network team facilitated these efforts as well as communications, branding, and multimedia.

IMPACT:  How did the Knowledge Network Improve the Region?

GBA works to generate awareness, interest, and commitment to healthy and high performance places through its events, communications, social media presence, and enthusiasm.

The Knowledge Network shared stories of high performing buildings in the region, prepared the green building leaders of tomorrow, and offered resources for all levels of interest or experience.

These efforts have resulted in:

  • More than 100 LEED-certified buildings in the region, ranking Pittsburgh 14th in the nation
  • Over 1,250 LEED professionals in Western Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh being on the cutting edge of green building for 20+ years! It’s home to some of the first LEED-certified buildings in the country (such as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank), some of the most iconic (David L. Lawrence Convention Center, for example), and some of the greenest (like Phipps Conservatory’s Center for Sustainable Landscapes).

DETAILS:  Where to Learn More

Although the Knowledge Network initiative has been discontinued, the work and efforts of GBA hasn’t changed. Visit the events calendar and find details on upcoming seminars, building tours, happy hours, LEED preparation courses, workshops, and more!