Meet This Year’s Legacy Award Honoree: Gary Saulson

Gary SaulsonGBA is delighted to announce that Gary Saulson, executive vice president and director of Corporate Real Estate for The PNC Financial Services Group, will receive the 2015 Legacy Award at its Emerald Evening gala on September 24. As The Tower at PNC Plaza will be opening in the coming months, this is a great time to recognize Gary for his many contributions to the design and operation of high-performing buildings in Pittsburgh and around the world.

The Legacy Begins

In 1993, Gary Saulson was visited by GBA’s founding executive director, Rebecca Flora. Before the meeting was over, Gary agreed to make PNC Firstside Center (already under construction) a green building. While he didn’t know quite what he was getting into, he realized it was the right thing to do. In fact, PNC Firstside Center would become the largest LEED certified building in the world until the construction of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. According to LEED Fellow and GBA board member Alan Traugott, “the project gave huge credibility to LEED in Pittsburgh and to the entire rating system in general.” This was the beginning of PNC’s ongoing commitment to creating healthier and higher performing buildings. Gary later became the first board chair of the Green Building Alliance, helping the organization navigate the challenges and opportunities of our region’s built environment.

Walking the Walk

Over the years, Gary has demonstrated that a company’s buildings are incredibly important to employee and client satisfaction, as well as to the bottom line. To date, PNC has more than 250 LEED certified buildings, including more newly constructed LEED® certified green buildings than any other company in the world.

Shifting the Market

PNC’s internal research and development efforts have resulted in significant progress in the marketplace. PNC worked with manufacturers to improve the design and expedite the implementation of LEDs, to build more efficient rooftop units and to improve PC and laptop energy usage.

In collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Labs, Gensler and CJL Engineering, Gary’s team also developed a net-zero energy branch in West Palm Beach, Florida.  The branch achieved LEED Platinum certification and produces more energy than it uses. The depth of knowledge gained on that project resulted in changes to ASHRAE’s 90.1-2010 energy standard, which is the basis for most energy codes in the United States.

Under the leadership of Gary, PNC’s green building program has had an enormous impact on the adoption of LEED across the U.S., especially for other banks and large retailers.

The Legacy Continues

Today, Gary continues to push the market and raise the bar for healthy, high performing spaces. Not only should The Tower at PNC Plaza exceed LEED Platinum certification and be the greenest office tower in the world, but it represents Pittsburgh’s commitment to innovation and commitment.


Gary’s Executive Profile

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