Sustainability

The Office of Facilities Management (FM) is committed to creating, sustaining, and celebrating our built and natural environments through diverse sustainability initiatives in the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of Pitt’s historic and new facilities. Our work to transform 145 acres of an established, urban campus into a modern sustainability leader has spanned decades, with ongoing foci on healthy indoor out outdoor places, energy and water use reduction, stormwater and landscapes, materials diversion, innovative equipment and construction, and more.  Campus construction and renovations are important contributors in support of University’s goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2037. 

Sustainable Design and Construction

Recognizing its stewardship and leadership roles, the University seeks to incorporate the environmental, equity, and economic concepts of sustainability into the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of its buildings and landscapes, while maintaining safety and preserving comfort.

Specific to design and construction, FM continually updates the University design manual with sustainable, healthy, and efficient guidelines that apply to all campus construction and renovations.  Rigorous energy and water performance goals and strategy are also integrated into projects from the start.
 

LEED: In 2021, the University added its 15th Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified project, reaching 1.2 million square feet of LEED certified space across all Pitt campuses. Created in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is the world’s leading third-party green building certification -- and Pitt is proud to showcase our growing number of LEED certified spaces.

Product end of life is also important.  Pitt FM follows a "salvage and reuse" strategy first to minimize waste, partnering with Pitt Surplus, Construction Junction, and Doors Unhinged to ensure materials that can be salvaged are.  Additionally, construction and demolition waste on projects is regularly recycled on large project, achieving as high as 97% diversion from landfill. 

Materials: FM works to reduce natural resource consumption and conserve  embodied  energy (the  total  amount  of  energy  needed to create a material from raw extraction to end of life).  Strategies include using materials that are salvaged; remanufactured; include recycled-content; are reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, and/or made from rapidly renewable sources; and/or certified wood.  Locally manufactured and durable products are encouraged, along with materials that avoid chemicals of concern to produce healthier indoor environments while containing no or very low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Water: Low flow plumbing fixtures are installed and being upgraded across campus in support of Pitt’s goal to reduce water use intensity 50% by 2030.  Progress is tracked on our Water Usage dashboard at both the campus and building levels.  

Energy Conservation

Since 1996, campus-wide energy conservation projects have avoided nearly $32 million in energy costs.  Track our Energy Usage from 2014 to present both campus-wide and by building.  Energy use reduction strategies have included, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Systematic Upgrades – Systematic energy and water upgrades completed or in process in 25+ campus buildings since 2018.
  • Metering - Automated meters for electricity, steam, and chilled water. Implemented and growing continuous commissioning effort.
  • Sensors - Occupancy sensors are installed in many areas to turn off lights when the space is not in use.  Pitt's building automation system controls space temperatures in accordance with occupancy schedules.
  • District Chilled Water - Created an upper campus chilled water plant to replace three stand-alone, inefficient chillers.  Upgrading lower campus chilled water facility.
  • Vertical Mobility - Upgraded 71 campus elevators to achieve significant electrical savings along with better elevator service and accessibility
  • Laboratories - Are equipped with energy saving heat-recovery systems wherever possible and encouraged to join the Pitt Green Lab effort, including the Shut Your Sash awareness program.

Emissions Reduction

In 2009, Pitt and UPMC’s Carrillo Street Steam Plant opened, equipped with state-of-the-art technology that produces extremely low air emissions. The interconnection of Carrillo to the collaboratively owned Bellefield Boiler Plant (also ) helped dramatically decrease Pitt’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between the 2008 and 2011 GHG inventories.

Prior to the Carrillo plant's construction, the Pittsburgh campus received all of its steam from the Bellefield Boiler Plant, which was fueled by coal until 2009 when it, too, was converted to natural gas. Track Pitt’s pollution and emissions reduction progress on the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Overview Dashboard.

Recycling & Composting

The University’s goal is to reduce landfill waste 25% from 2017 levels by 2030, with Pitt FM leading the charge campus-wide Zero Waste efforts.

The University of Pittsburgh began recycling in 1990 and FM began an aggressive recycling initiative in 2005.  Along with single-stream recycling for metals, glass, plastics, and paper, campus-wide materials diversion includes cardboard, compostables, batteries, electronics, textiles, chemicals, and more. Follow our compost progress by building and monthly!

During annual move out programs, Clutter for a  Cause helps collect items for resale at the University of Thriftsburgh on-campus thrift store and Pitt Surplus.

Water Quality Testing

The University of Pittsburgh is committed to a safe and healthy campus, including ensuring clean drinking water for everyone in the community. Pitt’s Environmental Health and Safety department regularly tests drinking water on campus to verify water quality. The University follows national testing protocols and uses a third-party laboratory for drinking water testing. Concerns about campus water quality should be reported via the Department of Environmental Health and Safety’s concern reporting form.

Campus Landscapes & Ecology

From classroom buildings to residence halls, FM nurtures outdoor landscapes and open spaces across the Pittsburgh campus.  These efforts have helped create 5 pollinator gardens, 9 rain gardens, and 9 green roofs or patio plantings.

FM has partnered with students on many of these efforts, including with Pitt's Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation on the first campus rain garden on the Petersen Events Center lawn in 2011. Like the other 9 rain gardens across campus, the PEC rain garden soaks up excess rainwater and naturally infiltrates it into the soil, helping reduce Pittsburgh’s combined sewer overflow issues.

Green rooftops have also been installed across campus, including at Benedum Hall and Fanny Edel Falk Elementary School.  Green roofs help reduce combined sewer overflows, energy use, and heat island effect, while providing habitat for pollinators, and productively utilizing rainfall, among other benefits.  Pollinator patios exist at Barco Law, Hillman Library, Nordenberg Hall, and Posvar Hall.

 

Green Roof