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Sustainable Pittsburgh

307 Fourth Avenue, Suite 1500
Pittsburgh, PA

Following is a list of publications by year that Sustainable Pittsburgh produced or commissioned.


Kendall Simon Sustainable Business Case Studies

Featuring Eat’n Park Hospitality Group and PITT OHIO, these case studies offer lessons for getting started with and realizing the bottom-line benefits of business sustainability. The case studies are offered through a partnership between Sustainable Pittsburgh and the Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership at the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration.  The project was made possible with support from BNY Mellon, UPMC and the BNY Mellon Foundation.

Download the PDF here.


Southwestern Pennsylvania Sustainability Goals + Indicators Report 2016

Sustainable Pittsburgh last presented this regional sustainability goals and indicators report in 2004. In tracking the region’s progress, we see that much has changed, while too many things remain the same.  Not changing however, is the reason we produce the report.  The old saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” applies.  Sustainable Pittsburgh is resolute that we as a region need to take stock of key issues, throw all we have at the ones that need to be fixed and continually take stock of our progress.

This 124 page report provides a suite of measures of the overarching, regional issues that cut across our geopolitical boundaries of southwestern Pennsylvania. The 29 sustainability indicators detailed in this report were selected during an extensive public engagement process. Overall, the indicators show a region that has one foot squarely planted in a new and promising economy that is clean, equitable, renewable, healthy and based on sustainable business and community practice.

View the web-based version of the report


Pittsburgh’s H2Opportunity–An Assessment of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Water Sector

On January 13, 2011, the Pittsburgh World Environment Day Partnership, of which Sustainable Pittsburgh is facilitator, released the Pittsburgh region’s first economic analysis of the water industry sector. Completed at a time when the overall water market is growing (up to ten percent annually), Pittsburgh’s H2Opportunity: An Assessment of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Water Sector offers a snapshot of the region’s strengths in water-related industries and highlights future opportunities for innovation and growth.

Key recommendations in the report include:
– Assess, organize and advance regional opportunities related to water and coordinate resources to support them;

– Identify the occupational pipeline and workforce needs for the high priority water industry sectors and develop training on more efficient uses of water for energy, industry and agriculture;

– Strategically identify and selectively recruit innovative firms and industries that can benefit from and be good stewards of the region’s abundance of high quality water;

– Support innovation and commercialization in water technology;

– Promote green water management infrastructure; and

– Initiate partnerships with other regions and identify national and international export opportunities for regional firms.

Click here to view the report.



Southwestern Pennsylvania Blighted and Abandoned Solutions Project

This report substantiates that addressing blight and abandonment offers the chance to build assets in a community and deliver economic, environmental, and social equity benefits for both the community and region as a whole. At present, there exists no regional plan, decision-making table, nor coordinated regional effort to tackle the growing crisis of blight and abandonment in our communities. The figure of 67,886 abandoned housing units in Southwestern Pennsylvania commands attention, particularly when factoring that vacancy begets abandoned properties and the compounding associated costs to individuals, neighborhoods, social networks, the economy and region which is working so hard to reach its economic aspirations. Given the regional impacts and nature of this issue, regional approaches are in order.”
View Executive Summary

Inclusion in the Workforce: Positioning the Region to Prosper and Compete

The stark racial disparities that characterize Greater Pittsburgh’s labor market weaken the regional economy and levy — much like an onerous tax — high costs on the entire community. Building an urban economy in which everyone participates and prospers is not merely a matter of altruism or social justice, but rather a crucial step towards transforming an aged industrial center into a dynamic, 21st century city.

This strategic report explains why, in this global information economy, racial equity and inclusion are the cornerstones of sustained development and successful, healthy regional economies. This report analyzes racial disparities in employment in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, reviews the critical role that a diverse workforce plays in improving economic competitiveness, and recommends policies for enabling the region to reach its full potential.


Sustainability Assessment Tool – Southwestern Pennsylvania

Guidance for Municipal Leaders, Developers and
Concerned Citizens

Sustainable Pittsburgh recently launched a Sustainability Assessment Tool with local government officials in mind. Guiding growth and development in your municipality is a big responsibility. Planning for the long term impacts of development is both a challenge and one of the most enduring ways to enhance quality of life in your community. SP’s intent is to provide tools and models to help you usher in development that delivers economic, social and environmental value… simultaneously and long into the future.
Indeed, this defines sustainability. This Sustainability Assessment Tool strives to help you know sustainable attributes when you see them and to evaluate and plan for your community’s sustainable development. We also recommend incorporating requirements for sustainability in your zoning and subdivision/land development ordinances.
View the Sustainability Assessment Tool.

Southwestern Pennsylvania Citizens’ Vision for Smart Growth: Strengthening Communities and Regional Economy

There is increasing public awareness that our region’s sprawling land use patterns have negative social, economic, and environmental consequences. Accordingly, we are increasingly hearing pronouncements by insightful public officials and community leaders that it is high time for reforms that favor a regional approach to land use planning for our region’s prosperity.

Based on insights from land use trends forums we held around the region, Sustainable Pittsburgh has created a vision for the region’s development. Southwestern Pennsylvania Citizens’ Vision for Smart Growth: Strengthening Communities and Regional Economy identifies our region’s sprawling development trends and consequences.

Building Communities through Recreation, A Guide for Organizing an Outdoor Festival

How does one strengthen and promote their community? By organizing an outdoor recreation community festival – getting all types of people together to sample outdoor recreation offerings. Promoting the recreation facilities and unique amenities located within a community or county is a great way to strengthen any community. Learn how by obtaining your copy of “Building Communities through Recreation, A Guide for Organizing an Outdoor Festival” a new publication written by Donna Bour and produced by Sustainable Pittsburgh.


New Report: Regional Visioning Public Participation – Best Practices

Regional visioning is going on across the country and around the world. In response to concerns about global competitiveness, sustainability and quality of life, major metropolitan regions, smaller regions, and even rural areas have undertaken public participation visioning processes. Regional Visioning is characterized as an effort to resolve key economic, social, environmental and growth issues in a manner that represents the values of the region’s residents and stakeholders. To remain economically competitive, a region needs to have an integrated economic development strategy tied to sound land use management and targeted infrastructure investment. To acquire and retain a trained workforce, which is a key element in an effective economic development strategy, a region needs to address social access and environmental quality issues. A regional visioning process provides an opportunity to address these issues and develop a strategy in a coordinated and inclusive manner. “The process should create a platform for participation,” John Parr, founder of the Alliance for Regional Stewardship.


Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Indicators Report 2004

This report is Sustainable Pittsburgh’s second comprehensive assessment of regional sustainability trends for the six-county region of Southwestern Pennsylvania. This revised and updated edition improves significantly on the first assessment, first published in 2002, and is the product of hundreds of people’s contributions, all focused on an attempt to answer this central question: are we going in the right direction?

And the answer? In some ways, yes … but in too many ways, the answer must be a resounding “No”.

We can celebrate our relative successes in areas like employment stability, affordable living costs, improved water quality. We have positive trends to build on.

But other areas, ranging from poverty and a deeply entrenched equity gap, to increasing fossil energy consumption, to declining rates of recycling, raise troubling questions about our future. They suggest the need for renewed, spirited, and concerted action to turn these negative trends around.


Sustainability Assessment: Northern Sections of the Proposed Mon-Fayette Expressway

Public investment in infrastructure (roads, sewers, water supply, etc.) is a principal determinant of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s destiny to be a sustainably developed metropolitan area. On a national scale, progress is being made in integrating major transportation projects to promote both access and livable communities. Indeed landmark federal transportation legislation (ISTEA) requires that major infrastructure investments be linked to the economy, environment, land-use, human well-being, and fairness. Nevertheless, no agency in the Commonwealth is mandated to coordinate, much less prioritize, the land use, economic development and transportation linkages in our region. As such, as exemplified in the Mon-Fayette Expressway proposal, while much of the country is moving forward on new approaches to urban transportation solutions, this region is considering old approaches to new circumstances.

Following the principles of sustainable development, this assessment reviewed transportation, economic, community, environmental, and social advantages and disadvantages. We also reviewed the processes used to develop the toll road proposal. Our work is based on careful review of publicly available materials including those featured in two in-depth briefing sessions with representatives of the Turnpike Commission and their consultants. We also drew input from the public panel discussion sponsored by SP on January 16, 2002. Thus, this SA reflects the sentiments of a wide range of studied viewpoints and raises issues to which the public should find answers in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to be released by the PTC in May 2002 and reviewed and revised during the following months.


Quality of Place & the New Economy: Positioning Pittsburgh to Compete

The rise of the new economy has radically altered the ways that cities and regions establish and maintain their competitive edge. Knowledge has replaced natural resources and physical labor as the source of wealth creation and economic growth. In this new era, a region’s ability to attract and retain the highly educated talent needed for growth has become the key factor in its economic success. But attracting and retaining this talent has proven to be something of a challenge.

Conventional wisdom argues that if the jobs are available, the workers will follow, but the new economy doesn’t quite follow these rules. Because the demand for talented people outstrips supply, and because competition has pushed salaries and benefit packages to very enticing levels, these highly skilled workers can essentially choose where to live and work. When it comes to choosing where to locate, knowledge workers have definite shopping lists, — and regions that seek to attract them do well to know what they want.

This report details the findings of a year-long study of the relative importance of various factors beyond job availability in attracting talent. The study looked specifically at how a group of measures that can be collectively referred to as “Quality of Place” affects the ability of regions to attract talent and to generate and sustain a high technology environment.