Local Government Leading: City of Pittsburgh

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Dec 04, 2018

This installment of the Local Government Leading blog series highlights the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In addition to being a Better Buildings Challenge partner, Pittsburgh was recently selected as a winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge. Pittsburgh was selected because of its innovative and ambitious Climate Action Plan 3.0—the 2018 update to the city’s Climate Action Plan first adopted in 2008 and further updated in 2012. Specific action plans and strategies in Pittsburgh’s Climate Action Plan 3.0 are designed to meet the city’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2023, 50% by 2030, and 80% by 2050.

As a winner of the Climate Challenge, Pittsburgh will receive technical assistance valued at up to $2.5 million. Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the city through its acceleration program to accomplish the following actions by 2020:

  • Deepen energy efficiency efforts through new financing programs and implementation of the Pittsburgh Building Benchmarking Ordinance;
  • Scale renewable power throughout the city through new community solar programs;
  • Expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure in priority areas in Pittsburgh.


These actions are aligned with the Climate Action Plan 3.0, which includes plans to achieve the following goals by 2030:

  • Power 100% of municipal operations with renewable energy;
  • Transition to a 100% fossil fuel-free municipal vehicle fleet;
  • Divest from fossil fuels for municipal operations;
  • Decrease energy and water use city-wide by 50%;
  • Reduce city-wide transportation emissions by 50%;
  • Divert 100% of city-wide waste from landfills.


Through a separate, voluntary commitment to the Better Buildings Challenge, the City of Pittsburgh also set a goal of a 20% energy use reduction across its 1.7 million square foot portfolio by 2020.

Through 2016, Pittsburgh achieved a 5% energy performance improvement compared to its 2010 baseline year. Pittsburgh’s energy savings were achieved by implementing retrofits and upgrades across all public facilities, including the installation of cool roofs, lighting upgrades, HVAC equipment upgrades, and lighting control systems.

To help finance energy savings projects, Pittsburgh established the Green Initiatives Trust Fund (GITF). The GITF uses funds from utility savings from reduced energy consumption and the lower rates resulting from bulk electricity purchases to finance additional energy saving projects. The GITF has been applied to retrofit public buildings with energy efficient HVAC equipment, replace 4,000 streetlights with LEDs, implement solar projects, and purchase 25% of municipal electricity needs through renewable sources.

Through innovative programs and ambitious goal-setting, the City of Pittsburgh continues to establish itself as a leader in sustainability and energy efficiency as it secures a healthier environment and economy for its citizens.

Be sure to check out our previous Local Government Leading installments featuring the City of SeattleDistrict of ColumbiaCity of Philadelphia, City of Los Angeles, City of Boston, and City of San Diego.