Frequently Asked Questions: Workplaces
Who can participate in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program?
The Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program is designed for businesses, nonprofits, and other institutions of all sectors* and sizes. No previous sustainability experience is required. Both virtual and in-person workplaces may participate. Any physical or virtual organization located/taxed within the following Pennsylvania counties is welcome and encouraged to earn designation: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, Westmoreland.
We encourage municipalities and restaurants to participate in the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification program and the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program, respectively. If your organization contains a restaurant that has already been designated as a Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant, you may still apply for a Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace designation. We encourage K-12 schools to refer to the Green Building Alliance’s Green and Healthy Schools Academy.
*Organizations whose business models are primarily based on the linear extraction and consumption of natural resources are not eligible for designation in Sustainable Pittsburgh recognition programs. We welcome them to access our other tools, resources, and events for sustainability progress.
My business qualifies for both the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program and the Sustainable Pittsburgh Shop program. Through which program should I seek a designation?
If you qualify to participate in both the Shop and Workplace programs, you may choose to participate in whichever program you believe will be most beneficial to your business. Please refer to the following list of benefits and expectations associated with each program:
Sustainable Pittsburgh Shops:
- Gain a framework of actions that promote business resilience and long-term success. Questions are in Yes/No/Not applicable format.
- Adopt practices to reduce business risk and expense, better attract employees, support the local community, and stand out with customers.
- Earn a digital badge for placement on your websites and in social media, advertisements, and other consumer-facing channels.
- Are included in Sustainable Pittsburgh’s public shopping directory and map, which is searchable by neighborhood, designation level, and business type.
Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplaces:
- Gain a strategic framework and resources for assessing performance, adopting actions, and reporting quantified progress in areas such as carbon reduction, resource conservation, employee hiring and retention, supplier engagement, and other key topics.
- Adopt practices to reduce organizational risk and expense, respond to stakeholder expectations, better attract employees, tap new markets and innovations, support the local community, and stand out to customers, investors, and program users.
- Access best practices, a peer network, and educational events to support progress.
- Earn a digital badge for placement on your website and in job postings, sustainability or ESG reports, advertisements, social media, and other stakeholder engagements.
- Have the opportunity to be included in Sustainable Pittsburgh’s public directory of Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplaces, accessible by job seekers, prospective clients, investors, and other stakeholders. Coming soon!
My organization cannot provide quantitative data about our resource use because we do not have access to our utility bills. Can my organization still earn a designation through the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program?
Yes! The Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program can be customized to suit your organization’s particular characteristics and circumstances. The questions in the program are filtered along a number of criteria. These filters include whether your organization has access to its utility data, as well as whether your organization owns or rents its office space(s), works primarily virtually or in-person, has outdoor space, etc. You will only be asked to answer questions that are relevant to your organization. For example, organizations without access to their utility data (e.g., because they rent space in a multi-unit building) will not be asked to report quantitative data on their resource use. This will not prevent organizations from being able to achieve any level of designation through the program.
My organization includes multiple facilities and/or divisions. How can I earn a Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace designation for my entire organization and/or for a specific part of my organization (e.g., a specific department, division, franchise, or facility)?
Any organization may choose to earn a designation for their organization as a whole or for a specific part of their business (department, division, franchise, etc.). To earn a designation for your organization as a whole, you must report on at least 60% of your total facilities/land. If this is not feasible, you may seek a more targeted designation for a specific branch, building, department, etc., within your organization. If you are unsure about how to choose, please contact us at email@example.com or 412-258-6642.
Is there a fee to participate in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program?
Fees to participate in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program are as follows. These fees cover access to Sustainable Pittsburgh’s custom online portal, participation in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program, designation, technical assistance from Sustainable Pittsburgh staff, and a designation promo kit. This fee is reassessed every three years.
Please note that fees will be waived during 2022 – meaning your three-year designation is completely free if you complete it this year! When these fees come into effect in 2023, fee waivers will be made available to organizations that are unable to pay but would still like to earn designation as a Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace. Please don’t let cost be a barrier to participating! Please contact us as firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-258-6642 for questions and assistance.
|Not-for-profit organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees. Any government authority, public institution, or institute of higher education||$0|
|Businesses with fewer than 15 employees||$50|
|Businesses with 15-50 employees||$75|
|Businesses with 51-200 employees||$125|
|Businesses with with 201-1,000 employees||$200|
|Businesses with more than 1,000 employees||$300|
How can I get started on earning Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace Designation for my organization?
The Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program is accessible via a custom online portal where you can view the questions included in the program, provide answers to them, upload supporting documentation, respond to feedback from Sustainable Pittsburgh staff, and access reports that summarize your progress. Visit this link to create an account.
For more information, you can view this short tutorial: How to use Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Performance Program Platform – YouTube
How can I earn points and achieve a designation through the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program?
The Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program provides a framework of questions to help your organization assess its sustainability progress to date and identify areas for future impact. Each response you provide will earn a given number of points.
Organizations may earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum designation through the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program. To achieve a given level of designation, organizations must both a) earn a given percentage of the points available in the program, and b) respond affirmatively to a set of required questions specific to each level. Point percentage and question requirements for each level can be found here.
How are the responses that organizations provide verified by Sustainable Pittsburgh staff?
The questions in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program will indicate when documentation is required to support an organization’s responses. Program participants can type or upload the required documentation directly into the custom online portal. Sustainable Pittsburgh staff review this documentation along with an organization’s submitted responses and will provide feedback as needed before awarding designations. All information provided through the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program is kept strictly confidential; see this link for more information about confidentiality.
What is the time period about which I can report when answering questions in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program?
When answering questions in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program, 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 program (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.
How long does the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace designation last?
Designation as a Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace lasts for three years. After three years, a workplace must complete a renewal in order to continue 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 designation prior to its expiration, the organization does not have to answer baseline and long-term-strategic questions, making for a more streamlined process.
How can designated organizations promote and be recognized for their sustainability leadership? How does Sustainable Pittsburgh help promote and recognize these organizations?
Designated Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplaces can promote their leadership in many ways! Sustainable Pittsburgh is pleased to provide the following tools, platforms, and promotions to amplify your recognition:
- Designated workplaces receive an electronic file containing the designation 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.
- Designated workplaces are included in Sustainable Pittsburgh’s online workplace directory, which is searchable by neighborhood, designation level, and sector.
- Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! We’re happy to share the good work of Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplaces. Let’s let the world see what we’re doing here in southwestern PA!
- In addition to benefiting from overarching program marketing initiatives, designated businesses and workplaces will receive a press release template to use for sharing the news of its Sustainable Pittsburgh achievement. Additional media attention can also be received from TV, radio, advertisements, newspapers, and magazines.
- Positive recognition for businesses and workplaces is sure to flow among members of the community.
Who created the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace designation? How is this designation program related to the now-retired Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge?
This designation program was developed by Sustainable Pittsburgh with the insights and expert guidance of the members of the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace advisory committee.
The Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program evolved from the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge, a one-year competition program last held in 2018. Launched in 2011 as the Green Workplace Challenge, the friendly competition was an outgrowth of work to implement Pittsburgh’s first Climate Action Plan. The Challenge expanded over time 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 has been maintained in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program, with updates designed to enhance its use as a strategic tool at your workplace.
Much like the Challenge, the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program is 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, the Workplace designation program is designed to encourage more strategic and ongoing sustainability work within your organization. Designations last for three years, and organizations compete only against themselves to drive impact in the areas most material to their organization.
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.