Frequently Asked Questions
How will a Sustainable Pittsburgh designation benefit my organization?
Sustainable Pittsburgh’s recognition programs provide easy-to-follow frameworks for action. They allow you to assess where you are on your sustainability journey right now and reveal next steps to drive further progress. These programs also help you track and quantify the impact of your actions.
Recognition programs are designed to reduce the risk and cost of action by connecting you with resources and financial incentives, providing examples and best practices, and offering advice and support from both peers and the Sustainable Pittsburgh staff.
Participation in these recognition programs will help you stand out to prospective consumers, job applicants, residents, and other internal and external stakeholders by providing designation, marketing tools, and inclusion in our promotion platforms. Surveys consistently find that consumers, employees, investors, and other stakeholders prefer to support organizations aligned with their values. Learn more about how each program provides recognition for designees on the respective program pages.
For more information about the benefits of designation, please view this video.
What recognition programs does Sustainable Pittsburgh offer?
Sustainable Pittsburgh offers four recognition programs, each tailored for a specific sector with appropriate assessments, resources, and benefits. These programs are Sustainable Pittsburgh Shop, Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant, and Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace. Sustainable Pennsylvania is jointly managed by Sustainable Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Municipal League. Please see below and the individual program pages for more information on eligibility and the features of each program.
Is my organization eligible for participation in a Sustainable Pittsburgh recognition program?
Any organization with employees in the 10-county region of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and any Pennsylvania municipality, may participate in one of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s four recognition programs.
The Sustainable Pittsburgh Shop, Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant, and Sustainable Pennsylvania programs are tailored for retail shops, restaurants, and municipalities, respectively. Likewise, the new Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program is designed for any type of business, nonprofit, or institution.
For information about eligibility and other details for each program, please view the respective program FAQs webpages.
How can I get started on earning a designation?
All four Sustainable Pittsburgh recognition programs are accessible via a tailored online portal where you can view the questions included in the program, provide answers to them, upload supporting documentation (if applicable), respond to feedback from Sustainable Pittsburgh staff, and access reports that summarize your progress. Visit this link to create an account.
For more information, about how to use the online portal you can view this short tutorial: How to use Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Performance Program Platform – YouTube
Do I need to download any software to participate?
No. This program works through an online application that is available anywhere you have access to websites, whether a computer, smart phone, or tablet.
Is there a fee to participate?
Some of the programs will have a designation fee, but all fees are waived through 2022 – meaning your three-year designation is completely free if you complete it this year!
After 2022, fee waivers will be available for certain types of organizations. Fees range from $50-$300 depending on organization sector and size. Please visit the individual program FAQs to see what fee, if any, may apply to your organization. Fees are re-assessed every three years.
The Sustainable Pittsburgh designation programs were re-launched in March 2022. What is new and improved about these programs? How can I benefit from these changes if I was already designated through the prior versions?
For more than two years, Sustainable Pittsburgh worked to bring the many platforms on which the designation programs were running into a single technology platform. This custom-designed platform enables —
- a high-quality user experience,
- seamless participation for users across your organization,
- data tracking over time and across programs,
- the ability for users to generate reports, and more
If you are a previous participant of any of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s designation programs, you can access your prior assessments and use them as a basis for renewing your designation.
At the same time we were building this new technology platform, Sustainable Pittsburgh refreshed Sustainable Pittsburgh Shop, Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant, and Sustainable Pennsylvania with guidance from program users, nonprofit and academic partners, and other advisors. Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace is a newly launched program designed to promote sustainability in other kinds of organizations, institutions, and businesses. All programs take a holistic approach to sustainability, focusing on the most material issues for the sector.
Who at my organization can complete the designation process?
Any one person or team of people from your organization can create an account on the online portal to help complete the program assessment. Your organization’s owner or manager should review and approve the completed assessment prior to submission.
Are my assessment responses confidential?
Sustainable Pittsburgh takes the confidentiality of your information seriously. All participant data remains entirely confidential. It is never shared with the public or any entity outside of Sustainable Pittsburgh. Participant data is used strictly for verification, for awarding points, and to aggregate program results across participants.
On occasion, Sustainable Pittsburgh may request special permission from a participating organization to share inspirational stories, photos, quotes, or actions with the public or other participants to highlight their achievements and inspire others. No details related to action submissions are shared without written permission from the participant(s).
What designation levels may organizations achieve through the Sustainable Pittsburgh recognition programs, and how are these earned?
All four of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s recognition programs offer participants the opportunity to earn Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum designation.
To earn a given designation, participants must earn a certain percentage of program points. In some cases, participants may also be required to complete certain actions to achieve a particular level of designation. Qualifications vary by program and are modified to be appropriate for organizations of various sizes, sectors, etc. For more information, please view the FAQs page for the program in which you plan to participate.
How long does designation last?
Designation lasts for three years. This applies to all of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s recognition programs. After three years, an organization has the opportunity to renew its designation. We highly encourage all organizations to renew their designations prior to expiration, as the renewal process is expedited for organizations whose designations are still active. If renewing its designation prior to expiration, the organization does not have to re-answer baseline and long-term-strategic questions in the assessment, making for a more streamlined process.
Once a shop, workplace, restaurant, or municipality earns a level of designation, can it reassess later in order to achieve a higher level?
Yes, an organization or municipality can resubmit its assessment for the opportunity to earn a higher level of recognition at any time during its designation period, at no additional cost.
What is the time period about which I can report when answering questions in the Sustainable Pittsburgh recognition programs?
Participants may report on any policies, actions, impacts, etc. that date from within the past five years. There are some exceptions to this throughout the programs (e.g., when reporting on large capital investments, supplying a base year for energy use measurement, etc.). These exceptions are clearly indicated on specific questions within the program.
Is technical assistance available to work through the assessments?
Yes. Sustainable Pittsburgh staff will assist you when necessary to access and use the portal and to understand how to get the most out of completing the assessment. In some cases, Sustainable Pittsburgh is able to provide one-on-one assistance in earning a designation. Donations are always appreciated when additional services are provided, to allow us to serve as many clients as possible and increase impact toward our mission.
Is technical assistance available to help organizations implement the actions included in the assessments?
Some of the questions in the programs have associated resource documents that will directly connect you to information, partners, and other useful tools. In some cases, these resources will also include information about available financial resources and other incentives that could help organizations implement actions.
How can I get more help?
Have more questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-258-6642.