Sustainability & Resilience
Sustainability is not just about environmental protection. It is also important that we find a careful balance between the environment, economics and social justice.
We believe that sustainability means:
- Decreasing our impact on the environment
- Finding ways to save money
- Improving the services we provide to citizens
- Growing the economy
What is energy efficiency?
Energy efficiency is using less energy to provide the same service. If you use an Energy Star certified refrigerator, you will use less energy to provide the same service that a traditional refrigerator provides. Efficiency improvements are often the most cost-effective methods to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is generated from resources that are indefinitely replenished naturally: sunlight, wind, water, hydrogen, biomass and geothermal heat. We also want to use cleaner sources of energy because it will be vital to creating a more sustainable city. Each year the City of Pittsburgh purchases 25% of its energy from renewable sources — enough to power 3,500 homes per year.
Pittsburgh signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2007, pledging to implement local global warming solutions that will save taxpayer dollars and reduce energy use. This commitment followed the completion of the City's first greenhouse gas inventory. A greenhouse gas inventory measures how many heat-trapping gases are being emitted from an entity and from what sources. It is a useful tool to target actions to the areas where they have the most impact.
Climate change threatens our region. The negative effects can include:
- Increased severe weather events and flooding
- Higher prices on basic goods
- Shortages of basic goods
- Higher rate of illness
- Heat-related health problems
The City of Pittsburgh adopted Climate Action Plan 3.0 in 2018. Climate Action Plan 3.0 lays out strategies through which Pittsburgh can reduce greenhouse gas emissions within city limits and within City operations. This will lessen Pittsburgh’s contribution to global climate change.
Greenhouse gas emissions trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere and cause a rise in average global temperatures. This causes climate change that manifests in sea level rise, ice melt and many other effects. Higher levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere leads to more extreme consequences we will experience in the form of storms, droughts, flooding, extreme heating and cooling events. This will have a negative effect on ecosystems , food production, infrastructure and human health.
Pittsburgh has already begun to experience the effects of climate change with harsher winters, hotter summers, record setting precipitation, and increased numbers of invasive species. Coordinated, concentrated and comprehensive carbon mitigation action is needed to reduce the severity of regional impacts and prepare for a low carbon economy.
The 2019 five-year benchmark greenhouse gas inventory is currently underway to assess our carbon reduction progress and ensure that the goals of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0 are being met.
- Read the Resident's Green Guide to learn ways in which you can get involved with the Climate Action Plan and reduce your individual emissions.
- Read the Homeowners Stormwater Management Guide to learn ways to improve stormwater management around your home, and make an impact on the City's management.
Pittsburgh State of Sustainability
The State of Sustainability is an annual review of City Planning's Division of Sustainability + Resilience's projects and initiatives.