If you haven’t seen Pittsburgh lately, you haven’t seen Pittsburgh. Once the nation’s industrial hub for steel, iron and glass production, Pittsburgh is now a center for environmental advancements, technology, robotics, medicine and tourism. Today, Pittsburgh’s skies and its famous three rivers are clean—so clean that the city recently hosted the 2005 Bassmaster Classic, considered the “Super Bowl of Fishing.”
Pittsburgh is the national leader in “green” buildings (what is green?), with more green square footage than any other city. Consider the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the world’s first certified green convention center. Opened in 2003 on a former brownfield site, the $385 million, 1.48 million square foot convention center is an exemplar of the region’s environmental friendliness.
"The greening of Pittsburgh’s new Center is a powerful example of this region’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental awareness," says Bob Imperata, executive vice president of VisitPittsburgh.
Located on the urban waterfront in downtown Pittsburgh, the Convention Center is a model of environmentally intelligent form and function. The sloping cantilevered roof channels river breezes through the interior for ventilation, and the glass walls and ceiling admit natural sunlight into exhibit halls and other areas.
The result is that fully 75% of the center’s exhibition and meeting space is lit by natural daylight. For presentations, blackout-shading systems change the lighting at the touch of a button. This natural lighting and ventilation saves an estimated $500,000 annually. Savings from the Center’s gray water system are substantial too. The system recycles 55% of the building’s water—an estimated 6.4 million gallons a year.
When it comes to getting around Pittsburgh, the Convention Center’s downtown location offers quick access to hotels and other amenities for visitors. Pittsburgh’s compact 50-acre downtown makes it an extremely walkable city, with over 85 restaurants and five theaters within five minutes of the Convention Center. Public transportation is also free within downtown.
The city’s strong support of recreational and commuter cycling through public programs and 38 miles of bikeable riverfront trails recently led BIKE magazine to name Pittsburgh one of the "Top five places to live and ride in the United States". The Port Authority’s Rack ‘n Roll program provides bike racks on 12 popular bus routes, the Monongahela Incline, and the regional light-rail system. Citywide, there are more than 130 Public Art Bike Racks installed throughout Pittsburgh. Each rack, designed to be cool and functional art, holds two bikes.
A short drive across the Smithfield Street Bridge leads to Station Squareand the Duquesne Incline. Visitors can ride this historic funicular to the top of Mt. Washington and witness what USA Weekend magazine calls “the second most beautiful view in America”. With its breathtaking skyline, sparkling rivers and magnificent architecture, Pittsburgh is indeed green, and ripe for discovery.