On Wednesday, Dec. 2, Sustainable Pittsburgh revealed the leaders of the 2014-2015 Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge, a yearlong, friendly competition for businesses, nonprofits, municipalities, and universities to track and measure improvements in energy, water, waste, and transportation. The finale and awards ceremony took place from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm at The Andy Warhol Museum on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
evolveEA has participated in the Challenge since its first round three years ago, when we led the small business category and enacted a series of policies and protocols to help us track the impact of sustainability initiatives we were already doing, as well as improve our workplace in a number of ways. We’re very proud to have been recognized again this year as the leading green workplace in the small business category! Over the years we’ve been able to reduce our energy usage, increase our engagement with our community, reduce the waste coming from our office operations and share our experiences with other local companies to help them do the same.
Fifty employers from throughout southwestern Pennsylvania completed the competition, which began in October 2014 and ended on October 31, 2015. These participants took a total of 1,931 “green actions,” each of which earned them points in the challenge. Point-earning actions ranged from switching out less efficient light bulbs for more energy efficient ones, establishing recycling programs, encouraging carpooling, and over 200 more! Over the course of three competitions, 200+ participants took 5,831 actions.
Sustainable Pittsburgh presented special awards for the Top Energy Saver, Top Water Saver, and new this year: Top Waste Reducer and Top Commuter Footprint Reducer. We were especially pleased when Sustainable Pittsburgh presented the Top Legacy Performer award to a longtime community partners of ours, Conservation Consultants, Inc. (CCI). CCI has seen savings of 65.5% in energy compared to the original baseline year of 2010-2011 (which was the year of the first competition).
We are pleased to extend congratulations to all of the 2014-2015 GWC top scorers in each category:
- Micro Business Category Winner: Pashek Associates – 235 points
- Small Business Category Winner: evolveEA – 598 points
- Medium Business Category Winner: The Mall at Robinson – 507 points
- Large Business Category Winner: Highmark – 1,003 points
- Micro Nonprofit Category Winner: Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) – 431 points
- Small Nonprofit Category Winner: GTECH –722 points
- Medium Nonprofit Category Winner – Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh – 743 points
- University Category Winner: University of Pittsburgh – 770 points
- Small Municipality/Local Government winner: Monaca Borough – 310 points
- Large Municipality/Local Government winner is Allegheny County – 1,353 points.
The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh received the Top Energy Saver award for achieving the highest percentage of measured reduction in workspace energy consumption from this competition year compared to the prior year. The Museums reduced their energy usage 21.5% over the course of the year. Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh also received the Top Water Saver award, having reduced their water usage 17%.
Allegheny County received the Top Waste Reducer award, having a 62% reduction in landfilled waste mass. GTECH Strategies received the Top Commuter Footprint Reducer award, having reduced their commuter footprint by 9.4% over the past year. This award goes to the organization that demonstrated the largest percentage reduction in equivalent greenhouse gas emissions from their commuter profile when people switch from more impactful modes of transit (such as driving alone) to less impactful modes, such as public transit, vanpools, carpools, bicycling, or walking.
All winners received special awards made from reclaimed materials, produced by partners through the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.
The cumulative energy savings since the first GWC competition in 2011, through this third competition ending in 2015, resulted in over $8.9 million saved (including social cost of carbon: $9.35-$10.1 million). This translates to saving a year’s worth of energy for 9,741 average U.S. households, or in other words, more than 10% of single family homes located in the City of Pittsburgh. In terms of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, participants saved over 2,865 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which translates to roughly 73 airline flights of 500 miles: roughly 2/3 of a day worth of all flights leaving Pittsburgh International Airport on a typical day. Additionally, participants saved 2,700 pounds of PM 2.5 from entering the atmosphere.
Matt Mehalik, Program Director for Sustainable Pittsburgh, said, “The organizations that have participated in the Green Workplace Challenge once again illustrate that each action to save resources contributes to a larger effort that makes a significant impact. Our region moves along towards a more sustainable path with each and every effort. Taking green, sustainable actions in the workplace indeed make an important difference.”