Tag Archives | City of Pittsburgh

Breakfast Briefing: Pittsburgh as a Resilient City

Can Pittsburgh create a new paradigm of urban systems management through the lens of resiliency? Come hear from Grant Ervin, the City of Pittsburgh’s chief resilience officer, and Jordan Fischbach, co-director of RAND’s Water and Climate Resilience Center, for a look at how the topic of resiliency is changing city planning conversations in Pittsburgh and around the world.


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If sustainability is the ability to endure, then resiliency is the ability to strengthen and adapt. How does a city like Pittsburgh move beyond planning for sustainability and towards planning for true resiliency?

Last year, Pittsburgh was selected for the 100 Resilient Cities network, a Rockefeller Foundation program aimed at helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges they’ll face during the 21st century. Next, Mayor Bill Peduto compiled a team of staff members – led by Grant Ervin – to weave resiliency into city planning at all levels. Through their work in the city’s Office of Innovation & Performance, Grant and his team help ensure that city projects are no longer addressed in isolation, but as a system. With help from RAND – a research organization focused on developing solutions to public policy challenges – the City will soon enter its next phase of resilience planning.

Join Green Building Alliance for a breakfast briefing with the City’s Grant Ervin and RAND’s Jordan Fischbach, where we’ll learn about RAND’s forthcoming resilience assessment, the City’s future action plan, something called the “resilience dividend,” and much more!


About our Speakers:

Grant-Ervin-203x300Grant Ervin serves as the chief resilience officer for the City of Pittsburgh where he oversees the integration of sustainability and resilience into City services, programs and policy. Prior to joining the City of Pittsburgh, Grant served as the regional director for 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, a statewide smart growth and sustainable development policy organization; and as public policy manager for Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG).

Grant brings fifteen years of experience to this role, in which he works to engage stakeholders from the region’s communities, local governments, civic sector, business sector, and institutions; consult with an international platform of resilience experts; and collaborate with a global coalition of Chief Resilience Officers in cities around the world.

Jordan FischbachJordan Fischbach is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, co-director of the Water and Climate Resilience Center, and a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. He is a leader in climate adaptation, water resources management, and coastal planning.

Fischbach has expertise in risk analysis, exploratory simulation modeling, and Robust Decision Making, a method designed to better manage deep uncertainty and develop robust and adaptive plans through quantitative scenario analysis. He works with government agencies to better incorporate deep uncertainty into their long-term climate and coastal adaptation planning efforts.



8:30 – 8:40 – Guests arrive, grab breakfast and coffee, find seats.

8:40 – 9:30 – Presentations.

9:30 – 10:00 – Q&A Session.


Learning Objectives:

1.Explore the intersection of sustainability and resiliency.

2.Discover how the topic of resilience is informing city planning initiatives in Pittsburgh and around the world.

3.Learn about the various players involved in working towards a Resilient City including researchers, city planners, and citizens.

4.Obtain perspective about Pittsburgh’s plan to become a Resilient City, including RAND’s resiliency assessment and the City’s forthcoming action plan.


This event is approved for 1.5 GBCI CEUs and 1.5 AIA HSW hours.

Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits.  Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events).  Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.

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From Paris to Pittsburgh: COP21 and You

You’ve heard all about the climate talks that took place in Paris at the end of 2015. Now, get a first-hand account from someone who was there, and hear the Pittsburgh perspective.


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In December 2015, nations from around the world convened in Paris, France for the U.N. Climate Change Conference – Conference of Parties, also known as COP21. The conference was covered extensively in the press and was widely referred to as one of the biggest international steps to curb human-caused climate change in recent history. The results of the conference were swiftly summarized, dissected, and debated in press outlets around the world (find a few examples here, here, and here).

But wouldn’t you love to get an insider’s perspective on those talks, and learn about exactly how the agreements relate to our region specifically? That’s where Mark Dixon and Ari Lattanzi come in! Join GBA for a Lunch & Learn where Mark and Ari will share their unique perspectives on these ground-breaking negotiations.

About the Speakers

Mark DixonMark Dixon is a local photographer, filmmaker, and environmental activist who has been following international climate discussions for years. In July 2015, Mark formally represented the City of Pittsburgh and the Mayor’s Office at an official COP21 precursor event, the World Summit Climate & Territories in Lyon, France. Next up, Mark crowd-funded his way to Paris in December to attend the formal COP21 negotiations as an official member of the press. Mark documented his experiences here and he’ll share more detail and insight with the GBA audience at our event.


Version 2Ari Lattanzi joined the City of Pittsburgh’s Office of Sustainability as the resilience analyst following the completion of her SCA AmeriCorps Green Cities Fellowship with the office. She has conducted an extensive greenhouse gas emissions inventory for Pittsburgh community and local government sources and activities in 2013 and is working to update the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan (PCAP). Ari will offer insight as to what we can expect from PCAP 3.0, and offer some local context relating to the COP21 negotiations (find some details about the City’s plans and commitments here).


11:30 – 11:40 – Attendees grab lunch and find a seat; GBA introduction.

11:40 – 12:30 – Presentations.

12:30 – 1:00 – Q&A Session.

Learning Objectives:

1. Hear first-hand accounts from the COP21 climate negotiations, including insight from a Pittsburgher.

2.Discover what can be expected from Pittsburgh’s next version of the Climate Action Plan and hear updates on the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative.

3.Learn about how the climate negotiations may impact Pittsburgh, and discover more about our role in climate change.

4.Explore next steps in curbing climate change on a personal, regional, national, and international level.


This event is approved for 1.5 GBCI CEUs and 1.5 AIA HSW hours.

Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits.  Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events).  Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.

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New York offers several examples in this series. Photo: Luca Sartoni on Flickr

Local Policy Best Practices for Healthy and High-Performing Buildings: Part 3

Throughout my series of Local Policy Best Practices for Healthy and High-Performing Buildings, we’ve looked at examples of mandatory green building criteria and expedited reviews in other municipalities. My hope is that we can adapt some similar practices right here in Pittsburgh. To drive this home, let’s take a look at direct financial incentives. PennSTAR: Implement […]

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In Chicago, green roofs, PV systems and wind turbines go through a special permit process (Photo: YoChicago)

Local Policy Best Practices for Healthy and High-Performing Buildings: Part 2

Mike here again. In this short series, I offer up several ideas for how Pittsburgh could craft policies and legislation relating to healthy and high-performing buildings. In Part 1, I explored mandatory green building criteria. Here, I want to take a look at another common method I’ve seen municipalities utilize: expedited review and other indirect […]

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2014 Progress

Pittsburgh 2030 District: 2014 Progress Report

The Pittsburgh 2030 District’s 2014 growth was in both scale and scope, presenting far greater opportunities for impact reduction. The goal of the Pittsburgh 2030 District is to reach 50% reductions in energy use, water use, and transportation emissions by the year 2030. As one of eleven established 2030 Districts in North America, Pittsburgh is also piloting […]

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The Numbers Are In: Pittsburgh 2030 District Building Performance Revealed

County Executive, Mayor, and Green Building Alliance Announce Significant Strides Towards Aggressive Energy and Water Efficiency Goals April 29, 2015 – Nearly 200 people gathered at PPG Place’s Wintergarden on April 29 to hear the results of the 2014 Pittsburgh 2030 District Progress Report. As they waited for the details, they wondered: How will we know […]

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Inspire Speakers Series

Michael Slaby and Debra Lam Bring Inspiration to Pittsburgh

“Bonafide bad ass.” This was the phrase of the night according to guest emcee Andrew Butcher at GBA’s April 9 Inspire Speakers Series lecture. Butcher himself was kind of a bad ass, seamlessly leading the audience through the evening’s kick-off without lights or audio for a time when a thunderstorm caused a brief power outage. Once the […]

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Inspire Speakers Series Presents: Michael Slaby and Debra Lam, with Guest Emcee Andrew Butcher

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inspire speaker seriesAs we strive to create the most livable places for all, how do we go about engaging our communities? How do we understand differing needs and ensure that our process is open and inclusive? Join us to hear perspectives from Michael Slaby, Debra Lam, and Andrew Butcher about how we can all reimagine engagement.


Michael Slaby uses technology and social media to help humanity solve the world’s greatest challenges.  His work with the United Nations, U.S. State Department, F*ck Cancer, Bright Pink, I Am That Girl, Livestrong, Citizen Effect, and Jumo have made him a highly coveted consultant. In 2012, for example, when the Obama campaign began gearing up for re-election, one of the first calls went to Michael Slaby.

As deputy digital director and chief technology officer for Barack Obama’s first election campaign in 2008, Michael leveraged the Internet and social media to raise funds and organize volunteers in ways that had never been seen before, resulting in a historic election victory. He became chief integration and innovation officer for the 2012 Obama for America campaign, leading to a successful re-election and triggering a revolution in the way politicians, organizations, and brands use social media to engage their audiences.

Michael is currently managing partner of Timshel, a new company working to help solve social, civic, and humanitarian problems via better technology, engagement capabilities development, and creative capital. He was previously a fellow at Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, was named to Crain’s Chicago 40 Under 40 list in 2011 and its Tech 50 list in 2013.

Michael’s experience provides the perfect backdrop to advance the conversation on how Pittsburgh engages its citizens to shape our region’s future. How can we inspire a diverse and inclusive movement to transform our region into a thriving place from the ground up?

Debra LamDebra Lam is chief innovation & performance officer for the City of Pittsburgh and oversees all technology, sustainability, performance, and innovation functions of city government. Prior to joining Mayor Bill Peduto’s executive team, Debra worked as a project manager and policy consultant at Arup, a global consulting and design firm. With over a decade of experience, her projects have included strategy work with the World Bank, APEC, and the C40 cities. She has spoken and published numerous articles on sustainable development, climate change, and urban resilience and was among the 35 high achievers awarded a place on Management Today’s “35 Women Under 35″ list and a finalist for Women of the Future, Science and Technology.

Debra is a Pittsburgh native and recently returned to her hometown after living and working in New York, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. She is a graduate of North Hills Senior High School, graduated cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and earned a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.

After successful stints across the globe, Debra is excited to help transform Pittsburgh into an innovative, world-class city.  Her work in the Office of Innovation & Performance seeks to make city government not only more efficient, but more open, transparent, and responsive to the needs of its residents. Her perspective will help frame our conversation, demonstrating more engaged city planning: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Andrew Butcher is our guest emcee for this lecture. As co-founder and CEO of GTECH Strategies – Growth Through Energy and Community Health – he is recognized both locally and nationally as a leader in the field of social innovation. A committed practitioner of creative social and environmental responsibility, Andrew has installed solar panels in South America, deconstructed buildings in his native Colorado, and farmed brownfields in Pittsburgh. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, has presented at numerous institutions and conferences, and has been honored at the White House. In 2008, Andrew was awarded a prestigious international Echoing Green Fellowship for social entrepreneurs.


Online registration closes at 1:00 p.m. on April 9. General admission is available when doors open at 5:00 p.m. Is this event out of your price range? We want this incredibly inspiring evening to be accessible to everyone in our community. If you find the $20 rate to be prohibitive, please email Andrew Ellsworth to discuss your options.

We’d like to thank our Inspire Speakers Series Co-Presenting Partners:

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Thanks also to our Inspire Speakers Series Media Partners:










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Source: BikePGH

Check Out Some of the World’s Coolest Transportation Ideas

Treehugger recently highlighted innovative transportation options from cities around the world. From Copenhagen and Zurich to Portland and New York City, check out the article for a look at some innovative alternatives to cars: Why not learn from the best? 10 great transportation ideas from 10 great cities!   Cities that provide access to multiple, affordable transportation […]

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Dr. Jo Ellen Parker, Anna Siefken, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Aftyn Giles, Councilman Dan Gilman (Credit: Michele J. Kranik)

See How Pittsburgh Celebrated Earth Hour

If you were near Downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday night, you would have noticed something different about the city… it got much darker between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. – thanks to overwhelming participation in Earth Hour 2015. Led by Green Building Alliance’s Pittsburgh 2030 District partners, the City of Pittsburgh, and other key partners (listed below), […]

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