Frequently Asked Questions: Sprints
What is a Sustainable Pittsburgh sprint?
Sustainable Pittsburgh sprints are short, fun competitions that enable organizations to compete against peers in earning points for actions that advance social equity, carbon-emissions reduction, or another critical topic. Sprint competitions are held annually, and each will focus on one topic critical to regional sustainability. Each sprint runs for three to six months. In this focused timeframe, participating organizations can rally employees toward quick progress, track performance against peers through sprint leaderboards, and earn recognition as sustainability leaders.
Why should my organization participate in a sprint?
Sustainable Pittsburgh sprints help your organization assess and advance progress in a key sustainability area while engaging your colleagues and staff in a fun, team-building competition and earning recognition for your achievements.
Participating in a sprint can help your organization:
- Attract and engage employees: Staff and new talent prefer to work at organizations that are committed to sustainability. Build a vibrant workplace culture where all employees can learn, contribute to, and be supported by sustainable and just practices.
- Reduce risk and realize opportunities: Adopt practices that reduce expense and risk while opening up new markets, innovations, and long-term success.
- Lead on market, policy, and stakeholder expectations: Policy-makers, investors, customers, and residents are increasingly demanding sustainability commitment and transparency.
- Build an equitable, resilient, healthy, and prosperous southwestern PA
What is the topic of this year’s sprint?
This year’s sprint competition is focused on the topic of social equity. This means that every question in the sprint is designed to help your organization or business become more equitable. An equitable organization is one in which everyone can participate, thrive, and reach their full potential. Questions are focused on an organization’s commitment to social equity in its own operations: things like, how diversity, equity, and inclusion are promoted through its human resource policies and practices; whether it prioritizes diverse and local suppliers and vendors; and to what degree its outreach and marketing is inclusive. For municipalities, the program also includes questions about social equity in community development: issues like food access, housing affordability, environmental justice, and others. Questions are tailored by sector so you will only see questions that are the most relevant to your organization. The program also aligns with Vibrant Pittsburgh’s Vibrant Index, providing another great way to maximize the value of your engagement.
What resources do I need to be successful in the sprint?
The sprint competition is designed to be a flexible program appropriate for all organizations regardless of the amount of time, experience, or staff available to participate. There is no required amount of time that your organization needs to plan to devote to the sprint. In fact, it is very likely that each organization will develop a unique approach to the program.To determine what is best for your organization, we suggest that you log on to the program and review the questions with any colleagues you may plan to collaborate with. You are also welcome to reach out to Sustainable Pittsburgh’s staff for help getting started. Some teams may decide to answer as many questions as possible in one sitting, while others may divide questions and work on them slowly throughout the competition. There is no wrong way to participate!
There are many ways that the program allows for this level of flexibility:
- Participating organizations are not required to answer every question in the program. You may choose to answer as many questions as you like, leaving any that you prefer not to answer blank.
- Participating organizations are awarded points for every question they answer, regardless of how many they complete. Every action makes a difference, both in your workplace and in your point total for the sprint.
- It is not required for participating organizations to take new actions during the sprint timeframe. In other words, you may report exclusively on actions your organization took prior to the competition.
- For organizations that are newer to the sprint topic or seeking to push their progress in that area further, you are likewise not required to have completed any actions prior to the competition. You may take and report on as many new actions as desired over the course of the sprint competition.
How do sprints relate to the Sustainable Pittsburgh Shop, Restaurant, and Workplace designation programs, and the Sustainable Pennsylvania certification program for municipalities?
Sprints are time-bound, competitive, and focused on one topic at a time. They are designed to drive performance in, rally support around, and recognize achievements related to key sustainability topics in a fun, fast, and engaging way. By contrast, each of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s four designation programs cover a comprehensive spectrum of sector-specific sustainability topics; are open year-round to support ongoing, long-term, strategic sustainability action; and allow each participating organization to independently earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum-level designation (i.e., there are no limits on how many organizations can earn each level of designation, including platinum).
Can I participate in both a sprint and a designation program?
Organizations may choose to participate in just one or both of these programs. Once you have completed one program, the points you earned will carry over to the next to make it faster and easier to earn recognition through both.
- If your organization is already designated, sprints are great opportunities to reignite employee engagement, drive further progress around a single topic, and earn points towards earning a higher level of designation in the future.
- If your organization has not yet started working towards designation, sprints can help you engage your employees around and drive progress in a given area. They can also serve as opportunities to assemble your sustainability team and make progress toward earning designation in the future.
- If your organization is currently participating in a designation program or a sprint, it is most advantageous to complete the program you started first before beginning to engage in the second (i.e., we do not recommend engaging in both programs simultaneously). This will enable points you earned in one program to carry over to the other, making it faster and easier for you to earn recognition in both programs.
I am interested in participating in both a sprint and a designation program. Should I complete one before beginning the other?
Yes. If your organization is interested in participating in both a sprint and a designation program, it is most advantageous to complete one program before progressing to the next (i.e., we do not recommend engaging in both programs simultaneously). This will enable points you earned in one program to carry over to the other, making it faster and easier for you to earn recognition in both programs. Based on your organization’s preference, you can choose to either complete a sprint before getting designated, or get designated before participating in a sprint.
Who can participate in a sprint?
Restaurants, retail shops, businesses, nonprofits, and other institutions located in southwestern Pennsylvania; as well as local governments located throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, are encouraged to participate in a sprint. Your organization may be of any size or sector*, and no prior sustainability experience is required.
You may participate in a sprint whether or not you have earned a Sustainable Pittsburgh designation.
*Organizations whose business models are primarily based on the linear extraction and consumption of natural resources are not eligible for Sustainable Pittsburgh Sprints. We welcome them to access our other tools, resources, and events for sustainability progress.
Is there a fee to participate in a sprint?
There is no fee to participate in the 2022 Sustainable Pittsburgh Equity sprint.
How do I participate in a sprint?
Sprints are accessible via a custom online portal for which you will create a secure account. If you are a local municipal government (not including county government) please use this link to create or log in to your account. All others, please use this link.
Through this portal, you gain access to a brief questionnaire that outlines steps your organization can take to advance progress in the sprint topic. The portal allows you to log which actions you have taken, provide documentation to demonstrate those actions, and respond to feedback from Sustainable Pittsburgh staff. You can also view leaderboards to benchmark and track your progress in the competition.
During a sprint competition, you can log in at any time to submit your responses to the program questions. You may work together with a team of colleagues to do so, each of whom also must create an account. You may respond to as many questions as you like over as many sittings as you wish. There is no need to complete every question.
For more information, you can view this short tutorial.
How are top scorers determined?
Participants in a sprint can earn points for every question they answer in the program. Sustainable Pittsburgh staff will review the responses submitted on a bi-weekly basis to approve these points. Sustainable Pittsburgh staff may also ask participants to provide additional documentation to clarify their responses before awarding points. In this case, participants will receive an email alerting them that their answers require attention.
Sprint top scorers will be identified by sector (e.g., municipalities, universities, nonprofits, businesses, etc.) to ensure that participants are competing only against organizations similar to their own. The questions in the sprint competition are likewise tailored by sector to ensure that you are asked the most pertinent questions to your organization type.
To win a sprint, an organization must have earned the highest percentage of the total number of points available in the program among the organizations participating from their sector. Following bi-weekly point reviews, online leaderboards will be updated to reveal the leading organizations in each sector.
How will top scorers be recognized?
Top scorers can promote their leadership in many ways! Sustainable Pittsburgh is pleased to provide the following tools, platforms, and promotions to amplify your achievement:
- Top scorers will be announced at an annual public event and receive a physical award to signify their achievement. They will also be included in a press release.
- Top scorers receive an electronic file containing a digital badge and other promotional materials for placement on your website and in job postings, sustainability or ESG reports, advertisements, social media, and other stakeholder engagements.
- In addition to benefiting from overarching program marketing initiatives, top scorers will receive a press release template to use for sharing the news of its achievement. Additional media attention can also be received from TV, radio, advertisements, newspapers, and magazines.
- Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! We’re happy to share the good work of sprint top scorers.
- Positive recognition for businesses and workplaces is sure to flow among members of the community.
Will my organization’s performance in the sprint be kept confidential?
Sustainable Pittsburgh takes the confidentiality of your information seriously. Your contact information and all answers and documentation that you provide in response to the program’s questions remain entirely confidential. This is never shared with the public or any entity outside of Sustainable Pittsburgh. This data is used strictly for verification, for awarding points, and to aggregate program results across participants.
The sprint program includes the use of a public leaderboard housed on the Sustainable Pittsburgh website. This indicates the top performers in each sector on a bi-weekly basis. This leaderboard indicates organization name and the aggregate percentage of points earned only. It does not make public any specific actions that an organization has or has not completed.
The points earned by organizations that do not appear on the leaderboard are not public. However, this information is viewable by other organizations participating in the sprint.
How do sprints relate to the now-retired Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge?
Sustainable Pittsburgh sprints evolved from the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge, a one-year competition last held in 2018. Launched in 2011 as the Green Workplace Challenge, the friendly competition for businesses was an outgrowth of work to implement Pittsburgh’s first Climate Action Plan. The Challenge expanded over time to include more sectors. It was based on a national benchmarking of sustainable business best practices, with guidance from a steering committee representing a broad cross-section of interests and subject matter expertise from southwestern Pennsylvania. Much of the content of the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge was the basis for the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program, with updates designed to enhance its use as a strategic tool at your workplace.
Much like the Challenge, sprints are open to organizations of all sizes, sectors, and levels of experience with sustainability. While the Challenge was a year-long competition that recognized top scorers in various categories of performance, sprints are designed to help organizations jumpstart progress in key sustainability areas.
What if I have a question or issue that was not addressed in this FAQ section?
We are here to help! Contact us at email@example.com or 412-258-6642. We will update these FAQs accordingly.