Despite our region’s reputation as a bit overcast, we have vast untapped solar energy potential and a dedicated group of solar manufacturers and installers both small and large. However, Allegheny County is one of the most fractionalized governments in the country and, with well over 100 local governments with their own rules and regulations, it can be very difficult for these companies to market their solar panels and have them installed. This presents us with a great opportunity to work collaboratively with environmental organizations, labor unions, solar manufacturers and installers, and leaders from all of the County’s municipalities to find ways to standardize regulations for solar panels, while protecting the interests of residents.
In 2009 a broad-based coalition of faith-based groups, labor unions, environmental organizations, and community leaders came together to help City Council pass three groundbreaking new laws that promised to dramatically change how public dollars are spent on private developments. This package of laws offered fair wages to employees at new developments, cleaner air through cleaner construction practices, and cleaner water through modern stormwater management techniques. City Council passed these laws unanimously and they went to the Mayor’s office to sit on a shelf and never be implemented.
A green roof, a low-maintenance layer of native vegetation covering most or all of the flat surface of a building, can substantially reduce energy costs, provide a stormwater management function, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cities across the world have seen a dramatic increase in the number of buildings with green roofs as energy costs rise and the threat of climate change becomes more apparent. Pittsburgh has millions of square feet of flat roof surface and an opportunity to promote the installation of green roofs throughout the city.
Trees provide a myriad of benefits to our city and its residents. They clean our air, provide oxygen, and cool our streets and homes which lessens energy consumption. They help to control storm water runoff and increase our water quality. They lessen our stress and improve our mood. Tree Pittsburgh is dedicated to protecting and growing our urban forest and they have a class for you if you’d like to help keep Pittsburgh green one tree at a time.
Pittsburgh’s historic buildings are irreplaceable treasures that make our city unique and give it a character and presence that many newer cities spend millions of dollars to try to replicate. We must start to recognize the incredible value of these architectural gems and use them to our advantage to serve as cornerstones for neighborhood revitalization and economic growth. Too often we discard one-of-a-kind historic buildings in the name of “progress” and replace them with cookie-cutter developments that add nothing to the character of the city. That has to stop.
A recent report by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute showed that Pittsburghers spend $826 a year sitting in traffic. All of that gas money gone to waste is only part of the problem. Idling traffic also causes serious environmental and public health problems. The harmful pollution caused by heavy gridlock causes asthma in our kids, heart disease and respiratory problems for seniors, and contributes to global climate change. Plus traffic is just a pain. Yet we have the technology right here in our back yard to do something about it! Carnegie Mellon University has pioneered ‘smart’ traffic signals that could revolutionize the way we get around. It’s time to implement smart traffic signal throughout Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh’s narrow streets and working-class row houses are part of its charm and are part of what make our neighborhoods special. But we all know how difficult it can be to keep up the alleyways behind these row houses and narrow streets. We have hundreds of miles of alleyways in Pittsburgh that have fallen into total disrepair, many of which are too full of potholes, debris, and overgrowth to even drive through safely.
Chicago City Hall Green Roof, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK’s photostream For those who care about the environment, it can be easy to become disheartened. The subject was never brought up in any of the presidential debates last year. In an attempt at “evenhandedness” the media gives time to those who [...]
“YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip” is an award-winning film that follows three local, Pittsburgh filmmakers — Mark Dixon, Ben Evans, and Julie Dingman Evans — who upended their lives, pooled their collective life-savings, and set off on a 50-state, year-long journey of discovery to personalize sustainability and to answer a critical question: “ARE WE DOOMED?” The result is thought-provoking, inspiring, and sometimes hilarious (call it an “Environmental Docu-Comedy”) as they explore the good, the bad, and the weird of the Americans who are tackling humanity’s greatest environmental crises.
ReEnergize Pgh is a community-based initiative by GTECH Strategies for Allegheny County seeking to increase residential energy efficiency — and in the process — save residents money, help to create jobs, and improve the quality of our air. ReEnergize Pgh focuses on equipping and informing residents about home energy efficiency. Other partners in the program include the city, the county, the Breathe Project and other public and private organizations.