The history of Pittsburgh is a long and rich one, defined by industry and innovation. While many people still picture the steel mills of the mid-19th century, Pittsburgh today would be almost unrecognizable to the residents of the smog-filled landscape of the past. From sustainable buildings and biking initiatives to local flavor, here are several ways that Pittsburgh has undergone a green evolution.
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification Program, a designation that assesses the sustainability and environmental impact of buildings, has been rating buildings since 1994. With low energy consumption, the use of raw materials and minimal greenhouse gas emissions, Pittsburgh’s architecture ranks eighth in the nation for the number of LEED-certified buildings in the city. Many of its major attractions, such as the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, are the first of their kind to have earned a LEED certification. Pittsburgh today has 39 green buildings, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and environmentalism that the founders of Pittsburgh could never have imagined.
Vaarwel, Amsterdam! Pittsburgh is coming up behind you with a plethora of biking initiatives to get its residents out from behind the wheel and onto the seat. With bike lanes popping up from downtown to the North Shore to Oakland (home of the University of Pittsburgh), it’s easier than ever to safely pedal to work or school. The city also boasts a bike share program, Healthy Ride, which allows residents and visitors to rent out bikes in a variety of convenient locations.
Just two years ago, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto unveiled an initiative that will transform the downtown area into a bike- and pedestrian-friendly paradise, a project truly in line with the city’s green vision for the future. Pittsburgh is casting off its image of air filled with pollution by encouraging everyone to hop in the saddle and make their own energy.
Locally Sourced Food and Drink
Yinzers love their food, especially if it comes with french fries on top. However, the city is home to more than just its famous Primanti’s sandwiches. An ever-expanding array of locally sourced foods and locally brewed beers is transforming the city of the past into the gourmand’s oasis of the present. Community gardens, sponsored by local nonprofit Grow Pittsburgh, offer residents fresh and healthy produce grown by their own hands. Farmers markets can be found in almost every neighborhood throughout the summer (and even accept public assistance), and CSAs are offered for those who lack a green thumb.
Outside of this, many restaurants have taken to creating dishes with farm-to-table ingredients. Pittsburgh also has a burgeoning craft beer scene, with almost 30 local breweries in and around the city. Residents and visitors can find anything from a mouth-puckering sour in Millvale to a rich Dunkelweizen brewed in an old church, making Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas a great place to crack open a cold one.
Since Pittsburgh’s founding, the city has been built on industry and revolution. From its days as a steel powerhouse to its current inception as a locally minded, green city, Pittsburgh has a lot to offer those looking for a dose of history alongside a sustainable vision of things to come.