Higher Education Climate Coalition
University of Pittsburgh

Melissa Bilec, Assistant Director, Mascaro Center for Sustianable Innovation.
(412) 648-8075
[email protected]

The Climate Initiative at University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh has long been committed to advancements in sustainability and green initiatives. Significant strides have been made in sustainable design and construction, energy conservation, pollution/emissions reduction, recycling, and greening of the campus.

As a member of the Higher Education Climate Consortium, Pitt is committed to aligning its campus practices with the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative. Its programs and standard practices are well underway, and features are described below.

2007 Enviro-Star Award (3 Stars – Allegheny County Health Department) for the Carillo Street Steam Plant & other University Initiatives.

Educational Initiatives & Outreach
The Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh is a center of excellence in sustainable engineering focusing on the design of sustainable neighborhoods.   Our goal is to create innovations that positively impact the environment and improve quality of life. Our research includes projects on greening the built environment, more sustainable use of water, and the design of distributed power systems. 
 Our community outreach programs include the following:


Emissions Inventory
A comprehensive utility master plan and energy audit was completed in 2001 that identified $6 million in low-hanging fruit conservation projects with a projected simple payback of less than five years.  The University has implemented these projects along with many others recommended in the master plan. 

Pitt has commissioned a new steam plant that includes six state-of-the-art, ultra-low emission natural gas boilers. The University estimates that 46% of steam related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be eliminated when steam production is transferred to the new Carrillo Street Plant, and NOx emissions will be significantly decreased to nine parts per million.  To the University’s knowledge, the plant is the only University plant in the nation to have achieved this ultra-low NOx limit.

The University’s Facilities Management Division is currently partnering with Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Engineering to complete a campus emissions inventory.

The University has organized a Sustainability Committee, composed of faculty, staff, and student representatives who advocate for sustainability on campus.  The committee’s recent areas of interest include the development of a website (http://www.pitt.edu/green.html), promoting sustainable purchasing, collaboration on the University’s first “Blue, Gold, and Green” event held in April, 2009, expansion of the University’s recycling program,  and planning of a Faculty Senate plenary session on sustainability. 

Energy: Efficiency, Conservation, and Alternative
The Facilities Management team at the University of Pittsburgh is dedicated to ongoing energy efficiency. This dedication has been demonstrated by the installation of a comprehensive energy management system which monitors and controls building temperatures according to established schedules, starts and stops equipment, and collects energy consumption data.  Other projects have included lighting upgrades, installation of occupancy sensors, expansion of the central chilled water and steam systems to eliminate stand-alone chillers and boilers, sub-metering of buildings for electricity and steam, and installation of energy/heat recovery systems in mechanical upgrades. Cumulative savings attributed to energy conservation initiatives since 1996 are estimated at nearly $28 million. 

6.2% of the University’s purchased electricity is currently generated via alternative energy sources.

Recycling and Waste Management
In addition to basic paper and commingle (aluminum/glass/plastic) recycling, Pitt currently recycles construction waste and has a reuse warehouse that diverts usable goods from entering landfills. Landscaping waste is composted. Compactors are used across campus to reduce overall waste volume. In FY2009, the University diverted approximately 42% of its waste stream from landfills. 

In addition, the University has implemented a construction and demolition recycling program and has achieved impressive diversion rates to date.  For example, the Benedum Hall MCSI Addition has documented a 98.9% diversion rate, and the Falk School renovation and addition project has diverted 65.8% of construction and demolition waste to date.

Buildings and Grounds
The University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute is LEED Gold certified. Three current construction projects are pursuing LEED Silver certification or better.  These projects include the addition to Benedum Hall for the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the multi-phase renovation of Benedum Hall, and an addition to the Chevron Science Center. 

University design standards extensively dictate many sustainable features for all renovation and construction projects.  Examples of these standards include energy efficient lighting, occupancy sensors, premium efficiency motors, energy recovery systems, low temperature transformers, DDC controls, low or no VOC paints and adhesives, carpet with minimum recycled content, etc.

Two green roofs have recently been installed on campus at Benedum Hall and the Falk School.  Green space and low-maintenance ground cover has been expanded throughout campus, and the University has installed many bicycle racks and planted many new trees.

Pitt subsidizes public transportation to offer no-cost access for all students, staff, and faculty who receive a University of Pittsburgh identification card. Incentives for carpooling have been moderately successful with staff and faculty.  An extensive shuttle network is offered for campus affiliates, and the shuttle fleet has recently been converted to biodiesel.  Zipcars are available on campus.

The Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh is a center of excellence in sustainable engineering focusing on the design of sustainable neighborhoods. We encourage and nurture new collaborative projects based on strong and innovative research, translating the fundamental science of sustainability into real products processes.  We are specifically interested in the following areas:

- Green Building Design and Construction
- Infrastructure
- Materials


Free the Planet
Environmental Committee of Student Government
Engineers for a Sustainable World
Engineers without Borders



Click here to view the complete list of recommendations for higher education, available in the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan.