Meet the 2018 Finalists
After a year of sustainability-driven decision-making and concerted efforts to mindfully use resources, 31 dedicated competitors have earned a spot among the 2018 Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge Finalists! Finalists are the the top point-earners in their division. Here, in their own words, are their favorite moments and proudest achievements from the past year.
Finalists are listed under their division in alphabetical order.
Jump to the finalists from your division by clicking below or scroll down to meet all of them!
K-12 School | University
Medium Nonprofit | Small Nonprofit | Micro Nonprofit
Large Business | Medium Business | Small Business | Micro Business
Large Municipality | Medium Municipality | Small Municipality | Micro Municipality
...And the Finalists are:
Central Catholic High School
Central Catholic is very proud of the many achievements it has produced throughout the 2018 - 2019 SP Challenge, but more than anything we are proud that we have inspired some of our young men to become the next generation leaders in the field of Environmental Science and Sustainable Living. The challenges that we have completed in our Environmental Science class and in the Environmental Club have shown the students that they can become difference makers in our school and community by championing green living and turning many small sustainable living practices into significant impacts. This in turn has led some of our students to enthusiastically look forward to majoring in Environmental Science so that they can continue their journey to become the next generation of environmental leaders. We not only see this as an optimistic sign that our youth will prioritize environmental causes, but we are also proud to have inspired our students to become the next generation of morally guided leaders in this incredibly important field of science.
Dilworth PreK-5 was proud of the work we accomplished during the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge. It was a great opportunity to highlight many of the sustainable works we already do here, as well as allowing us to identify new tasks we could complete. We originally went into this challenge focusing mostly on the environmental aspects of sustainability. However, we ended up focusing a lot more on the need for equity sustainability in schools.
And, I must say, that I was BLOWN AWAY by what I realized about the Dilworth team of teachers, councilor, parents, and our leader, Dr. Monica Lamar. Dilworth goes way above and beyond to give our students and families an amazing holistic, equitable education experience. From the weekly school wide student-selected electives that allow for students to focus on their interests (including two 1st and 2nd grade and one 3rd-5th grade environmentally focused electives), to the teachers who led and organized after school support groups and tutoring, to the whole school’s daily assemblies that bring every single person together as a community that does yoga breathing, practices restorative discussions, and sings as a family, to bringing in outside partners to expose our students and families to healthy eating and commuting ideas, to our own ABCrew (Anti-Bully Crew) who presents skits for students on bullying, to the Parent/Teacher Organization who run a “Food Backpack” program that ensures families can eat over the weekend…the list of equitable efforts could go on and on.
Competing in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge allowed Team Dilworth to recognize how big of an impact we have already been making on our students’ lives. It showed how much we truly come together for the betterment of our kids. I am beyond humbled and gratefully to work with such caring and dedicated people.
Environmental Charter School
Shaler Area High School
I was most impressed by the sustainable efforts that are happening throughout the school building, some of which I was not aware of before beginning the Challenge. The idea of sustainability is often on teachers’ minds, not only for environmental reasons, but often because reducing waste or reusing materials typically lowers costs and uses less supplies. Teens tend to be idealistic, and they appreciate and embrace this mindset. I was able to talk to students in a pottery class who were creating baskets using driftwood. This assignment required students to explore the woods for just the right materials, encouraging them to get outside, and then use the found materials to create a piece of art. I spoke to students working on the set of the fall play, using creativity to recycle a large chair from one used as a “Chair of Persuasion” in The Addams Family musical to one that worked with the current needs, a chair for the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. Through a school wide collection, students recycled 31 pounds of markers for the Crayola ColorCycle program, and over 770 cans of food for a week-long drive for the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Etna. Students helped to maintain plants in a living wall in our lobby and changed Air Quality Action flags in the cafeteria indicating the current air quality in Pittsburgh. Although there is still room for improvement, our team was pleased to find diverse activities that had sustainability in mind which were going on throughout the school.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is pleased to participate in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge for another year. Every year we get a little better at collecting the data, which is a challenge for us. The contest is helpful by providing a framework for a variety of sustainable actions and activities we aspire to achieve. Some we already accomplish, but many we could do better. By asking responsible parties on campus about their sustainable practices, we can use the contest to motivate more actions to be initiated. The contest is also helpful by providing information about how we can achieve certain goals that we do not presently practice. We also have a CMU Green Team for the, I am Sustainable PGH Spring Competition, and several people on campus are having fun with the new challenge!
University of Pittsburgh
In terms of sustainability, 2018 was a big year for the University of Pittsburgh – and communicating those efforts campus-wide as part of our Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge competition is an important piece of creating a culture of sustainability at Pitt.
In January 2018, Pitt formalized decades of green initiatives with the first campus-wide Pitt Sustainability Plan. An introductory letter by Chancellor Gallagher acknowledged: Long-term sustainability “requires deep and lasting changes that will enable future generations to thrive in a world that is environmentally responsible, socially equitable and economically robust. It is a great challenge—one that our University’s mission, which is to harness knowledge for society’s gain, perfectly positions us to tackle.”
In July 2018, Pitt gave campus-wide sustainability activities, strategies, and partnerships a centralized home by establishing the Office of Sustainability. Focused on implementing the Pitt Sustainability Plan, campus-wide sustainability efforts are now tracking measurable progress on the Plan’s 61 goals across stewardship, exploration, community, and culture.
It is extremely rewarding to compete with other local agencies who share a dedication to making our region a better place for all. ALCOSAN leadership and employees, staff at Sustainable Pittsburgh, and support from fellow competitors all helped make ALCOSAN’s participation in this friendly competition a success.
We are very proud of ALCOSAN’s accomplishments during 2018. Our first solar panel installation completed its full year of operation, which reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lowered electricity costs. ALCOSAN easily maxed out points in several equity actions since kindness is a central theme to our workplace culture. Employees volunteered to plant trees and pick up litter during their personal time. They donated nearly $34,000, 726 pounds of food, 325 pairs of gently worn shoes and 165 new holiday gifts for children during charity campaigns at ALCOSAN. Beneficiaries included the United Way, Scouting for Food, the KDKA-TV Turkey Fund, Cribs for Kids and Tickets for Kids. Our Scholastic Outreach department led environmental activities that reached nearly 32,000 students.
Water is at the forefront of our deeds. ALCOSAN’s Board of Directors created the Green Revitalization of Our Waterways (GROW) grant program to assist municipalities in installing source control projects, including green infrastructure. In the three funding cycles completed so far, 80 projects were offered GROW grants for a total of $20.8 million and that, combined, are estimated to remove as much as 119 million gallons of overflow from the ALCOSAN collection system annually. Of that total, 17 projects in 15 municipalities were awarded during 2018.
Inside ALCOSAN, we continued and expanded many of our energy, waste and employee wellness efforts started in previous competitions. A thoughtful approach in action selection also helped us earn more ribbons this year to maximize our points because every point and small change matters!
Allegheny County Airport Authority
The Allegheny County Airport Authority (ACAA) was proud to take part in the 2018 Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge. Many of our efforts at sustainability were decades in the making as when the terminal was built—30 years ago—ACAA made sure to incorporate low flow toilets, motion-activated lights, and increasing the waste diversion rate across the airport. More recent rewarding projects taken on by the ACAA include an electronics recycling event held in October 2018. This event collected over 51,000 pounds of electronic waste that was generated by the airport over the last 25 years. This effort allowed the ACAA to dispose of the waste safely and in a sustainable manner.
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
We host “Green Mornings” at the museum to engage employees in sustainability issues. One of our mornings focused on the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge. We created a scavenger hunt based on actions and tasked the attendees to break into teams and document the actions by taking pictures. We also used this an opportunity to gather alternative commute testimonies and encouraged employees to download and use the Smell PGH app. We had great results from this form of engagement. The participating staff were informed about the competition, learned about green elements at the museum, and helped us to gather documentation for actions. Participants responded to the challenge – and became extra competitive because we offered reusable metal straws as a prize for the winning team. We’ve heard from members of the winning team that they are still enjoying their reusable straws, even many months later!
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
We are fortunate at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to have a Sustainability Committee dedicated to the maintenance and enhancement of our regenerative practices.
In spring 2018, we participated in ROCIS's Low Cost Monitoring project. Through this study we learned about air quality in general and especially in our home base of Duquesne, PA. Many of our staff engaged with the monitors, watching as the CO2 rose during meetings in our large conference room. The more we learned the more we saw how vulnerable populations are more at risk and often in environments where air quality conditions are poor. We immediately connected this knowledge to our own work recognizing the mounting health risk factors for our neighbors in need.
Our experience with ROCIS was so eye opening we knew more members of our staff would want to participate in this program for the health of their own homes and families. In fall 2018, with a well coordinated effort, we hosted a ROCIS Cohort at our facility with all 12 participants being food bank staff. Because we live as far as North to South Hills and Monroeville to Mckees Rocks we gathered a wide swathe of data to look at and discuss daily.
During the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge not only did we take inventory of sustainable systems already in place, the challenge also gave us the motivation and courage to try big new things. We gained a perspective on our work we did not have before. When it feels as if there is always so much to be done, the SPC allowed us to take stock of all we, and previous committee members, have accomplished and helped clarify the trajectory for our future sustainability plans.
Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Conservation Consultants, Inc.
In the 2018 Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge, Conservation Consultants Inc (CCI) reached high level waste diversion and investment in renewable energy as our greatest achievements this year!
CCI has measured and weighed its waste streams for years, but it wasn’t until our second full waste audit through Pennsylvania Resource Council in 2018, that we looked even CLOSER look at our waste. The first audit is what led us to separate out paper towels, which represented the bulk of our waste. Last year, CCI evaluated our waste contamination rates and the first results of our pilot “compostable service-ware” program. Together, everything added up to more than a 95% waste diversion rate – plus some great employee engagement throughout the week- long waste-audit!
In 2018, CCI became an official partner of the Climate Reality Project’s 100% Committed Campaign where we pledged to shift to 100 percent renewable electricity. While the pledge is great, CCI went one step further and is now fulfilling its electricity needs with 100% PA wind power. CCI is proud to be partnered with the Climate Reality Project and is excited to be part of a more renewable future!
Cribs for Kids
Our challenge in this year's competition has been finding the time to focus on the challenge and the goals that we had set for ourselves to reduce our carbon footprint. As a busy nonprofit which is focused on educating the public about infant safe sleep and providing cribs to families in need, we struggled to make environmental sustainability a priority at times. We made a decision to focus on things that would reduce our carbon footprint while still bringing awareness to our mission. By doubling up our goals, we created our online educational platform, the Safe Sleep Academy. It has allowed us to reduce our need for printed materials significantly while increasing our outreach to educate the public about infant safe sleep.
Millvale Community Library
New Sun Rising
This shared experience amongst the employees at FedEx Ground was both exhilarating and insightful. Several departments took part in pursuing and achieving the action items associated with the different Focus Areas of the Challenge. While we perform our daily job functions to deliver the “Purple Promise” every day, a pledge to make every FedEx experience outstanding, this challenge allowed us to take a step back and apply a sustainable lens to our collective impact.
Competing internally was a fun way to engage every sub-team that was responsible for each Focus Area. At FedEx Ground, we always strive to provide the best service and experience as possible. Teams competed to see who could achieve ribbons within their Focus Area first, and this was then celebrated during each meeting. Celebrating these small victories boosted morale and kept teams on track to meet deadlines. Overall, this competition helped foster new working relationships and sparked new ideas to pursue, and ultimately improve how we apply sustainability to our daily practices.
Highmark Health’s success was built upon past initiatives taken as well as individual daily actions taken by all employees. At Highmark Health, environmental stewardship reflects our strong commitment to the health of community members. The Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge supports our commitment, providing the opportunity to track our progress in important areas of resource conservation and engage in spirited competition with peer organizations. The SP Challenge confirmed that every action counts and that it takes more than one person or one organization to tackle the issues associated with climate and the environment.
We thank the SP Challenge for pushing us further on behalf of good health.
We are always excited to use a resource like the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge to see how many sustainable tactics we are taking across our entire organization. Not only does this include all of the carbon emission reduction tactics in our buildings and operations, but also our employee programs to support diversity and wellness. This is also a great opportunity to get ideas for future initiatives!
Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.
We were excited to take a Green Team field trip to a new local green company (Threads) who we decided to use as a producer of Green company gifts (specifically, their backpacks) made from recycled plastic. We publicized the trip across our corporate footprint and got a lot of great feedback.
We were also encouraged by employee interest at our corporate HQ here in Pittsburgh in moving toward green products overall across the company. We are looking forward to increased participation in 2019 and hope to inspire other offices to join us in an internal friendly competition modeled after the SP Challenge.
Overall, by participating in the Challenge the members of the CEC Green Team gained knowledge and helped to spread awareness across the company.
Oxford Development Company
Oxford’s proudest achievement from our participation in the 2018 SP Challenge is that we have greatly exceeded our company’s sustainability benchmarks set during the 2017 Challenge and, along the way, earned a spot as a finalist.
Our sustainability goals have evolved considerably from the 2017 Green Workplace Challenge, where we were an observer, to this year’s Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge. Using what we learned during 2017, we were able to set higher sustainability goals for the 2018 Challenge. To help meet those goals we have begun reporting more efficiently and frequently within Energy Star for several of our newly developed buildings. We were also able to increase employee engagement by encouraging employees to participate in several competition surveys and hosting sustainability Lunch and Learns to educate employees on why sustainability is recognized as a core value within our company, as well as for our new developments.
Tetra Tech, Inc.
Our office has about 200 employees and among these employees there are many different levels of cooperation in this competition. When invitations for lunch meetings are sent out to the office, I follow up and reply to all to encourage everyone to bring plates and utensils to use for the meeting or to use the ones that we have provided in the kitchen.
Our office has an annual holiday potluck luncheon. The green team encouraged everyone to bring their own plates, cups, and utensils. Some people brought their plates and others were in line to get their disposable plates. Christine, a member of our green team, had a stack of glass dishes and handed them out to everyone in line that did not bring their own plate. It was hard for them to refuse! I thought this was a funny way to get more people in the office to participate. I notice more people in the office using reusable coffee cups and dinnerware.
This year was the second year AE Works competed in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge and after having won in our category (Small Business) we felt a bit of pressure, to say the least. The biggest challenge that we faced was doing the challenge in a new building in which we had less control over. We teamed up with our landlord to tackle the items that we could but had to find a balance between our initial desires/requests and what made sense ultimately for the landlord to allow us to do. Since our new location is in a more metropolitan area with no outdoor space, we had some challenges as participants in the ROCIS (Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces) Low Cost Monitoring Project. Trying to find the ideal space for the outdoor air monitors required us to really poke around and explore the building. Not only did we have to find a good location, but we also had to provide power to the monitors. We ended up on the roof, which is not a place we tend to frequent, and got to see a beautiful view of the Northshore! Although getting on to the roof was a bit tricky, we learned a lot about our building and strengthened our relationship with our landlord.
Pashek + MTR
This has been Pashek + MTR’s 5th time to compete in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge. The growth of our business equals the growth of our Green Team, which now includes 1/3rd of our staff! And it has been fun to involve all our employees who have been very supportive in sustainable changes in the office and implementing their own at home. It would also seem we can be very competitive!
Despite the fact that many of us enjoy running, yoga and riding our bikes to work, perhaps we all do that to offset the best treat in the office: Elaine’s homemade pies. So, with a pie of choice offered as the prize for our Sustainable Internal Competition…well, let the race begin!
The contest started with several people ready to run a mad dash. As the months lengthened, two employees maintained the even pace it takes to master a good race. But exactly how Sustainable can one person be? What if one toilet is my house is low flushing, but the other isn’t? Can I get a half point? Does every single light in my house have to be LED? How about 85% of a point? All great contests end in a photo finish and this one was no different.
Best of all, while the winner got to choose the pie, we all got to enjoy it. And we all learned that are always things – little things – we can do to be more sustainable. All a person needs is some friendly encouragement…and maybe a homemade pie!
Rothschild Doyno Collaborative
Rothschild Doyno Collaborative has an extensive history of advocating for sustainable design as a core tenet of equitable practice. Sustainability is a critical component of our approach to the design of buildings and places that improve lives and impart joy to its inhabitants. Our office seeks to advance a holistic approach to a sustainable future through research, design, practice, and our ongoing pursuit of a better way forward.
The opportunities presented within the framework of the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge encouraged us to look introspectively at our culture and reflect on the ways in which we could better align our actions with our aspirations. Throughout the year, we used our office as a testing site for innovative practice to be deployed in future project work. We have tracked and analyzed our data since moving into this space and are developing ongoing strategies for load reduction on our energy, water, and waste systems. By cross-referencing our consumption with activities within the office, we have been able to identify strategic interventions to create impactful habitual change.
In an effort to support healthier dietary habits, we provide fresh fruit for the office staff and our visitors to enjoy. Any resulting food waste is composted and used to support the soil in our garden each spring. During the growing season, we welcome the community to partake in the harvest. We continue to refine this cycle to demonstrate ways of providing healthy, closed-loop nutritional options while reducing waste within an urban context.
As we move beyond striving to do less bad toward actively doing good, we are considering our practices, projects, and people to commit to a regenerative lifestyle in all facets of what we do and who we are.
Sci-Tek Consultants, Inc.
Sci-Tek participated in the SP Challenge for the first time this year. As a newcomer to the challenge and sustainability in the workplace, we have made some great strides. In the waste management area, we replaced paper and plastic products with reusable utensils and dinnerware. This one action has greatly reduced the amount of waste sent to the landfill. The employees have adapted well to this change and we hope to continue to integrate additional waste diversion practices into our firm’s sustainability plan.
3R Building Sustainability
3R Sustainability, under parent company SRI Registrar, is a signatory of the UN Global Compact, a B Corp certified company, and recognized with its JUST Label. It is our mission to set an example of what a good global corporate citizen can be and proudly demonstrate leadership in sustainability here in Pittsburgh.
Participating in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge was a fun and thrilling opportunity to learn and do more about overall sustainability. One focus was the quality of air where we live and work and actions to improve it whenever possible. Our whole team was very involved, and the effort was definitely a collaborative one, earning us our 1st White Ribbon in Air Quality.
One of our proudest achievements was our high participation in the air quality monitoring sessions organized by ROCIS. More than 60% of our team volunteered, monitoring their homes for 3 weeks to measure and record air particles, CO2, CO, and radon. High participation showed we had a highly committed team. Additionally, the 3R office space was evaluated. Based on the office monitoring results, management took action to increase the fresh air supplied into our work space and replaced the filters on the air handling units.
Air quality is always a topic of discussion in Pittsburgh. Beyond improving air quality for ourselves at home and work, our organization is now better educated and equipped to assist clients and the community with air quality improvements. 3R has always had the goal of being a service leader, and now is also leading as a responsible, resilient, sustainable company for its stakeholders, the community, and the environment.
This year the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge engaged our entire team, since we decided to assign each of the Focus Areas to a staff person. We are most proud of our approach to embedding Social Equity in all aspects of our workplace culture and the work we do. We have spent the past year holding internal Equity Salons—conversations about equity in the office, the neighborhood, the communities where we work, and how we can best work toward equity with our clients and in our professional network. The salons have led to some improved company policies, opportunities for team members to grow and explore difficult social justice problems, and initiatives focused on serving disadvantaged communities and individuals.
City of Pittsburgh
Moon Township is very proud of all our achievements for the 2018 SP Challenge. We began early in 2018 and developed the Township’s Annual Goals and Initiatives to promote sustainability. The SP Challenge helped broaden our strategies in bringing sustainable solutions to our municipality and assisted with funding sources and plan development for township resource management. Our planning efforts include the following: storm water education/management, tree canopy loss restoration, riparian buffer restoration as well as new and exciting initiatives such as “return to meadows”, “no mow zones”, sustainable trail building (nearly 20 total miles in 3 parks), native species plant nursery, Robin Hill Fleur de Lune sensory garden, and a Meadow Trail plan. We also were able to proudly achieve Live Well Allegheny status and implement Tobacco Free Parks initiatives.
Our strategic plan identified the Township’s interdepartmental “Green Team” with specific responsibilities. Our plan also draws on the skills and experience of two township advisory boards; the Environmental Advisory Board (EAC) and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Moving our strategic plan from a planning phase into a full implementation phase with coordinated input from our advisory boards and support from the elected officials allowed us to create better awareness in the community and to more fully engage our residents through education and participation.
Township of Upper St. Clair
The Township’s effort this year was to continue with a follow-up to air quality monitoring of the Municipal Building. It is a hub of activity for both residents and our employees. The departments of: Township Administration, Finance, Police, Community Development, Public Works Building Maintenance, Library and Upper St. Clair School District Administration are all at home in this seventy-seven thousand plus square foot area. The importance of having sustainable air quality for those who utilize this, and other public buildings, is of the utmost importance.
Our focus for this year was to proof findings from last year’s air quality test for comparison. The testing was done as part of the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge through the ROCIS program, Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces.
The testing results for contaminants were found to be in the good range at the Municipal Building. CO measured 0. Carbon Dioxide levels were good in the morning hours at the library. It became slightly elevated during prime visitation hours, but still in an acceptable range. Daily outdoor particle measurements for the vast majority of time were trailing lower at the indoor spaces, as anticipated from the previous year’s data. Radon was also measured under the 4 picocurie level.
This Challenge provided a valuable avenue to view air quality data. Many thanks go out to the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge, the ROCIS program, and the Heinz Endowment for their support of ROCIS, which provided the devices for Air Quality monitoring.
Borough of Forest Hills
The Borough of Forest Hills celebrates its Centenary in 2019. As a community hosting the Westinghouse “Atom Smasher,” the Borough has a long history of supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. As a USA Tree City, the mature canopy helps to retain storm water and is maintained by an active Borough program of planting, replacement, and pruning. The Borough adopted a Resolution in Support of the Paris Climate Accord in April 2018. As the Borough plans ahead for the next century, sustainability, resilience, and inclusion are at the center of our considerations.
Our most important achievement in participating in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge has been completing the four-year process of planning and constructing a new Net Zero Energy Borough building. The former Forest Hills Municipal Building, built in 1922, had functional limits and a high operating cost due to poor insulation. The new building completed in December 2017 houses the Police Department, the Library, a Community room, and the Borough administrative offices. It incorporates several features that provide an annual net zero energy solution (equivalent to LEED Gold). Electricity comes from solar panels (176KW Photovoltaic Solar Array) placed on the roof. The architect’s design angled the building so that the roof acquires the greatest sunlight throughout the year. Forty 90-foot-deep geothermal wells are placed below a portion of the parking lot to provide heating and air conditioning. Building design includes minimum 12” SIPS panels forming the outer walls and roof of the building, providing between R-40 walls (vs. R-19) and R-50 roof (vs. R-38) insulation value. Rain gardens and a large bioswale area manage storm water runoff from the site to reduce the peak discharge rate into the watershed by more than 64% for the 100 -year storm.
Borough of Monaca
Borough of Etna