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Environmental Transformation

Pittsburgh's Environmental Renaissance       

This is the story of one of the most  dramatic environmental transformations in the world. So extreme was its  makeover, in fact, that the city was named among the 20 great places in the  world to experience in 2012 by National  Geographic Traveler.

Over the past half-century, the  Pittsburgh region has undergone the most extraordinary urban environmental  transformation in modern history. The "Smoky City," now considered  America's "Most Livable City," continues to rank among the top 10  cities in the United States for green certified building space.

And while much more work remains, the  story of the historic public-private partnerships that transformed the environment of this region is an inspiring tale of an urban renaissance that saved a major American city from environmental catastrophe.

Pittsburgh was once the poster child of  industrial pollution... "a scene so dreadfully hideous and bleak that it reduced the whole aspiration of man to a depressing joke," according to American journalist H.L. Mencken. In 1868, James Parton reported the infamous line about Pittsburgh when he called it  "Hell with the lid taken off."

Since then, the community has  eliminated its infamous smoke problem and has invested in our rivers and  trails. We helped nurse our beloved three rivers back to health - so healthy  that they are today home to the world's top professional fishing tournaments.  We have created some of the most popular outdoor recreational amenities in the  eastern United States. Western Pennsylvania has become one of the nation's best  examples of rails-to-trails conversion, with hundreds of miles of rail trails,  including the Great Allegheny Passage, which links Downtown Pittsburgh to  Washington, D.C., and stands out as one of the country's great trail systems.

It's fitting that Pittsburgh, the  birthplace of renowned environmentalist Rachel Carson, is today a national  leader in the environmental movement and a green model for cities all over the globe. Pittsburgh has set an example by renewing, reclaiming and redeveloping  its environment through a series of lasting public-private partnerships going  back more than 65 years - from the first air quality legislation to robust  reclamation of Brownfield sites and river cleanups during the past 25 years.

Today, we are the materials innovator  and supplier for a greener global economy, leveraging our world-class  manufacturing capabilities to create better-performing green products and  building technologies. Pittsburgh is a "Top 10 Metro" for Green Jobs  (Global Insight) and Pennsylvania has more than 5,000 green building product  manufacturers employing 200,000 people.

Pittsburgh is proud to be home to more  than 37 green-certified  buildings, including the first green college residence hall and  Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which is pursuing a net-zero energy  and water designation as a "Living Building" for its Center for  Sustainable Landscapes, scheduled to open in April 2012. This is a direct  result of this region's green agenda and strong commitment to environmental  stewardship.

Illustrating that commitment is the  fact that the Pittsburgh G20 Summit was held in 2009 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the  world's first green convention center. The facility is proud to have earned  LEED® Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for leadership in  energy and environmental design.

Pittsburgh is indeed green, and ripe  for discovery!