Highwoods Properties: PPG Place

Solution Overview

Highwoods Properties upgraded chillers, lighting, building systems, and the outdoor ice rink, finding 29% energy savings, 24% water savings, and $950,000 in energy costs.


Highwoods entered the Pittsburgh market in 2011 with the acquisition of PPG Place. This 6-building office complex has been described by architectural critics and the media as the crown jewel of Pittsburgh’s skyline. Its iconic spires can be seen from vantage points around the city. Highwoods’ goal was to make significant performance improvements to PPG Place while retaining its iconic character and status as one of the most beloved gathering places in the city. This involved a nearly $50 million upgrade plan for the PPG Place complex, which includes 6 Class A buildings ranging from 37,000 to 1,000,000 square feet.


Highwoods began by overhauling the plaza at the center of PPG Place, upgrading the summer water feature with new jets and LED lights that shine through the water. The ice rink expanded 20% from 9,364 square feet to more than 12,000 square feet, making it larger than New York City’s Rockefeller Center. The renovations included new chillers, controls, and pumping systems.

To improve overall operations of the complex, Highwoods:

  • Reengineered the chilled water systems, adding 9 new high-efficiency chillers and reworking the pumping scheme for One PPG
  • Replaced original pneumatic building controls with a modern direct digital control (DDC) system
  • Added a heat pump system at the PPG Wintergarden that utilizes waste heat from the PPG Ice Rink’s ice chillers
  • Installed high-efficiency LED lighting
  • Replaced restroom fixtures with low-flow, touchless fixtures
  • Upgraded elevator controls to an efficient destination dispatch system
  • Installed Variable Speed Drive systems
  • Replaced roofing with high solar reflectivity roofs
  • Implemented green cleaning and recycling solutions

Since Highwoods purchased PPG Place, ice rink attendance has increased 25%, and building occupancy has increased from 88% to 95%. In that same time period, system upgrades and monitoring by the company’s Energy Command Center have decreased energy consumption by 29% percent and water consumption by 24%. Energy cost savings amounted to over $950,000.

Other Benefits

These sustainability projects helped the buildings at PPG Place earn the LEED Silver certification in 2014 and ENERGY STAR® certifications each year since 2014. The deep retrofit contributed to a more efficient and comfortable environment for customers. All of this was accomplished without sacrificing the iconic look of the complex.

Image Gallery

Ice rink

PPG Ice Rink

Skyline image

View of PPG Campus