City of Pittsburgh: City-County Building


The City-County Building is a nine floor government office building housing both City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County employees. The goals for this project were to reduce costs of energy use in the building, decrease the City’s environmental impact by using less energy, provide a healthy, aesthetically pleasing work environment for City employees, and maintain the historical integrity of the building.


The City-County Building opened in 1917. While the building has undergone numerous interior renovations over the years, no additions have been made to the original structure. It is a steel frame building with concrete floors and limestone walls, and its antiquated systems were in need of urgent upgrades. The EUI for the building is one of the highest in the City’s building stock and Pittsburgh’s Downtown 2030 district.

While EUI is an important measure of building performance, Pittsburgh is broadening its scope to improve indoor air quality, water quality and quantity, waste and thermal comfort factors as other indicators of success. This approach will help improve employee health, performance and overall quality of life while occupying the City-County Building.  The majority of the upgrades are scheduled for completion by 2017, in celebration of the City-County Building’s 100th anniversary.   



The City is approaching this project in three phases. Phase I included HVAC, steam tunnel, and window covering upgrades. Phase II involved lighting upgrades to the 6th floor and a full renovation to the 1st floor Controllers Office including the addition of advanced lighting controls. Phase III involves the reconstruction of the building’s roof, additional lighting and HVAC equipment upgrades on additional floors, equipment commissioning, the addition of building automation tools, and the development of a building performance dashboard.


Phase I of the project was completed between November 2010 and January 2013 and included the following measures:

  • Installed energy recovery ventilators, ductwork, and controls to pre-condition 100% outside air by exchanging heat with the exhaust air steam and deliver makeup air into the various HVAC zones
  • Provided and installed airflow measurement stations to monitor outside air exhaust air at the energy recovery ventilators
  • Replaced existing fan motors with premium efficiency motors
  • Installed new steam control valves and thermostats at all existing steam radiators and completed streamline repairs and upgrades, lowering steam use by nearly 20%
  • Added solar shades and removed excess window AC units
  • Upgraded 1st floor office lighting with motion sensors and T* fixtures
  • Upgraded elevators

Phase II of the project involved repairing the roof's parapet, replacing existing lighting in corridors and the 6th floor with energy efficient LEDs, participating in a number of pilots including the instillation of BOSS control devices on water coolers, vending machines and window AC units to monitor and control energy use and operation, and the evaluation of air handling systems for commissioning with regards to energy and indoor air quality performance.  By the end of 2015 additional sensors will be deployed at the City-County Building and four other City facilities to monitor energy and air quality which will be able to be displayed for public use and internal mintenance through a dashboard visualization tool created in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University.  The City has also secured a power-purchase agreement through the Western PA Energy Consortium that maintains a consistent energy cost for the City and its participants while allowing it to increase the purchase of renewable energy from 25% to 30%, as of 2015.   

Phase III is anticipated to begin in late 2015. This phase involves deploying technology capable of improving the City-County Building’s resilience and energy performance by safeguarding its electric systems from power surges, while providing a balanced supply of energy, limiting In-Rush current, mitigating sag and swell and providing at minimum an 11% reduction in KWh. Additional roof reconstruction is planned for 2016. Repairs include the replacement of old insulation, worn materials, flashing, and other appurtenances. It’s also expected that the new roof will be a modified bitumen cool roof, with a ultra-white reflective cap sheet for high solar reflectance. With these upgrades, the City will position itself to save on energy cost and lower its environmental impact. The design of the project will be coordinated and evaluated for the possible accommodation of a photovoltaic system.  



Since 2007, the City of Pittsburgh has had the proud distinction of being a Department of Energy Solar American City. Continuing its leadership for smart growth, this project will help fulfill their responsibilities towards sustainability, and help move forward the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative which aims to decrease GHG gas emissions to 20% below 2003 levels by 2023. It will also support its 2030 District goal to reduce the EUI of Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland by 50% by 2030.  In addition, the City plans to continually improve its ENERGY STAR® rating, which is currently over 90.


Pittsburgh is focusing on ways to join its overall sustainability efforts with improving its overall resilience as new participants in the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge.  In 2016 it anticipates the publication of Pittsburgh’s 2013 Green House Gas Emissions inventory (its 3rd GHG inventory), and a new plan for resilience and climate action.


Annual Energy Use

Baseline (2010)
145 kBtu/sq. ft.
Expected (2015)
116 kBtu/sq. ft.
Coming Soon

Energy Savings:


Annual Energy Cost

Baseline (2010)
Expected (2015)
Coming Soon

Cost Savings:


Sector Type

Local Government


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Project Size

304,700 Square Feet

Financial Overview

Project Cost $5.15 Million

Pittsburgh top image
City County Building

Pittsburgh bottom image
Thermal image of the building envelope