City of Pittsburgh Announces Environmental Insights Explorer Partnership with Google for Climate Change Mitigation Data

PITTSBURGH, PA (September 15, 2021) The Department of City Planning’s Sustainability and Resilience Division has unveiled their online public Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE). Developed by Google, EIE provides climate action data visualized on interactive maps to see building carbon emissions, transportation emissions, rooftops that could successfully host solar panels, and tree canopy coverage citywide.  

EIE will provide baseline knowledge to better understand and help prioritize city climate change mitigation initiatives as part of Mayor William Peduto’s Climate Action Plan 3.0. The tool can be used to look at big picture citywide emissions trends and zoom in on specific buildings or areas to see more acute climate data. 

The City of Pittsburgh is working with Google to use their advanced EIE algorithm to annually produce emissions inventory data. The Sustainability and Resilience Division, in collaboration with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, currently collects and analyzes emissions data every five years to create a greenhouse gas inventory to develop a climate action plan. Compiling the data takes city staff, agencies and other partners over a year to complete because data sets are not centralized. This tool will be updated annually and allow the City to track climate progress at more frequent intervals.  

“This is a critical tool in helping us to understand climate change and how it affects our city,” said Mayor Peduto. “These maps make it easy for the City and our citizens to pinpoint areas of concern, which make it easier to develop creative and effective solutions. Everyone has a role to play in climate change and I encourage our businesses and residents to have a look at how emissions affect your community.” 

The tool allows Pittsburghers to visually understand environmental impacts and the ability to decrease emissions by creating efficiencies in the transportation, building and energy sectors and increasing tree canopy. The tool also allows Pittsburghers to assess solar potential for their own buildings as well as how and where planting trees can contribute to cooling our city. Examples of ways to use EIE to mitigate climate change include:  

  • EIE shows that citywide transportation emissions have decreased by over 20% since the beginning of the pandemic, suggesting that 1/5 of transportation emissions come from commuting. This could indicate that using shared, public or alternative transportation options to get to work or school could reduce emissions.  
  • Companies and private building owners can use the map to understand their carbon footprint and see if their rooftop is a good candidate to install solar as an alternative energy source.  
  • Residents could use the map to see how their home, school or office building is contributing to carbon emissions and how that can change over time by taking steps towards efficiency. 
  • EIE maps trees, surface temperatures and population density to see how trees are helping to mitigate the affects of climate change and inform what areas need additional trees, which can support the Shade Tree Commission’s new Equitable Street Tree Investment Strategy. 

“Pittsburgh was one of the first cities to pilot EIE in 2018, before it expanded to more than 10,000 cities worldwide, and is one of only 15 cities with an EIE map of the city’s tree canopy,” said Chief Resilience Officer Grant Ervin. “The collaboration with Google gives us a critical tool to identify opportunity areas for carbon emissions reduction and how we can help residents build resilience and adapt to our changing climate.  We are excited to be at the forefront of cities advancing technologies to address the climate crisis.”  

The EIE is available here on the City’s website and additional information about Google’s EIE is available here.  


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Molly Onufer
Communications Director
Mayor's Office