October marks the completion of a successful pilot program to provide corporate pro-bono technical assistance to municipalities on a diverse range of sustainability projects. The program matched corporate volunteer professionals from Alcoa with local municipalities to work on projects important to the community’s sustainable development. Sustainable Pittsburgh, Local Government Academy and the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management of Robert Morris University developed the program with support from the Alcoa Foundation.
Seven municipalities were competitively selected to participate in this five-month pilot. The local governments initially invited to apply were among those that have earned a level of certification in the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification program (jointly managed by Sustainable Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Municipal League).
At present, the professionals from Alcoa are in the process of reporting their recommendations to their municipal clients. The program is a win-win, with Alcoans noting how valuable it has been to learn more about municipal government and the communities where they live, work, and play. Similarly, municipal leaders are appreciative of hands-on expertise the Alcoans provide.
Rebecca Kiernan, the Senior Resilience Coordinator from the City of Pittsburgh, said, “Working with the talented team at Alcoa enabled the City to expand capacity and conceptualize a strategy to increase the recycling capture rate. The results of this data-driven process will be a major contribution towards the City’s ultimate goal of 100% waste diversion.”
Following is a brief overview of the projects undertaken by the municipalities and Alcoa volunteers.
Borough of Etna – Development of a business plan for the community’s central business district.
Borough of Millvale – Develop a plan for maximizing the benefits of the community owned kitchen located in an area that has long been considered a food desert.
Borough of Sharpsburg – Explore solutions for returning blighted and abandoned properties to productive use.
Borough of Wilkinsburg – Explore and determine best energy efficiency updates for two of the Borough’s largest buildings, the Municipal Building and a branch library.
City of Pittsburgh – Cost analysis and recommendations for how to expand the pilot recycling bin program that was introduced in the North Side in 2015.
Moon Township – Develop a practical plan for installation of solar panels in a visible demonstration area for public education and renewable energy generation.
Mount Lebanon – Cost/benefit assessment of green infrastructure (GI) in the community and analysis of potential locations for new GI installations.
This pilot project successfully demonstrates the mutual benefits of talented corporate personnel donating their time and skills to the benefit of local government to increase the policy and practice of applied sustainability.