The Pittsburgh 2030 District, a network of 540 properties representing more than 84 million square feet, reached its energy and water goals two years ahead of schedule. Energy use decreased by 23.5% last year.
Established in 2012, the Pittsburgh 2030 District is part of the international 2030 Districts Network, a global nonprofit initiative where properties commit to achieving 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by the year 2030.
The Pittsburgh district, an initiative of the Green Building Alliance, is the largest in the world and includes a variety of property types such as office buildings, hospitals, multi-family residential buildings, universities, professional sports facilities, and museums. Recently the Green Building Alliance (GBA) reported that the district reached its 2020 goals for energy and transportation in 2018, surpassing critical milestones in the international 2030 Challenge.
“In 2018 alone, Pittsburgh 2030 District properties decreased energy use by 23.5% and water by 18.6%, saving a combined $38.5 million,” the GBA said. “The District collectively purchased a full 10% of energy from renewable sources and avoided 281,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.”
Since the district was established in 2012, its properties have saved $135 million in energy and water costs and avoided more than 1.2 million metric tons of CO2e. The GBA says these reductions were achieved in part through operational changes including lighting and mechanical system retrofits.
For energy, the district uses the national 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey as a baseline. Energy Star Portfolio Manager is used to track annual energy use intensity (EUI) in kBtu per square foot per year, according to the Pittsburgh 2030 District Progress Report. In 2018, 371 buildings representing 74.5 million square feet reported energy performance.
“With a combination of advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy purchasing, the district avoided 281,000 metric tons of CO2e,” the 2018 report said. “The more than $30.6 million in energy savings this year continue to be reinvested back into projects of all scales, including elevator retrofits, commissioning, and building automation system upgrades.”
Falling renewable energy prices and growing commitments to corporate social responsibility led a growing number of the Pittsburgh 2030 District’s property partners to purchase 100% of their electricity from renewable sources, according to the report. Last year they purchased more than 883 million kBtu of off-site renewable energy, representing 10% of all energy used.