Phil Cynar
fDi Senior Reporter and Markets Editor Michal Kaczmarski

It’s a new year for the world and a special anniversary for the Pittsburgh region. 2013 marks 30 years since Pittsburgh’s economy hit bottom. The steel industry’s collapse crippled the region, its economy and its people. Marking the difference made by three decades of vision and collaboration – which resulted in a re-imagined and re-made region – is the retrospective, “Pittsburgh’s Progress:  Rust Belt City Reinvents Itself.” It’s a six-page report in the current (Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013) edition of the Financial Times’ magazine of globalization, fDi (Foreign Direct Investment).

In the fall of 2012, fDi Senior Reporter and Markets Editor Michal Kaczmarski traveled to the region from London to explore the “rethinking” of Pittsburgh, as he characterizes the metamorphosis that’s taken place here.  He writes, “Pittsburgh was all but written off in the 1970s and 1980s … however, the city’s focus on technological and biotech innovation, combined with an environment that encourages entrepreneurship, has turned its fortunes full circle.”

While on the ground, Kaczmarski toured a number of business, academic and quality-of-life assets – the latter including the new “Living Building” Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory, a model of the region’s leadership and innovation in energy and sustainability and one of the greenest buildings on the planet. He also met and talked with a number of regional movers and shakers who provided him with perspective on how Pittsburghers imagined and galvanized a radical transformation from an industry-driven economy of old to one that’s now fueled by knowledge and innovation. Today, this economy, balanced and diversified, has rewarded Pittsburgh with a stability that’s allowed it to outperform benchmark cities and the nation as a whole, even during the Great Recession.

Among the notable leaders Kaczmarski met – and who are quoted in the fDi special report – are Knopp Biosciences’ Tom Petzinger; Henry Thorley of 4moms; Arif Sirinterlikci, director of Robert Morris University’s engineering laboratories (the university and its engineering expertise have been instrumental to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute for which ground has been broken in the greater region); serial entrepreneur Luis von Ahn; and Nathan Martin of Deeplocal.

He also talked with several 20- and 30-something entrepreneurs and young professionals who have opted to chose Pittsburgh (over places like Philadelphia, Atlanta and D.C.) or who have made the decision to stay in their hometown and give Pittsburgh a chance. None was disappointed, as you’ll read. As one woman told Kaczmarski, “The vibe in Pittsburgh is great. There is something about this city that makes you collaborative and entrepreneurial.”

Nearly 15,000 fDi subscribers will be getting this – and more – fresh perspective on Pittsburgh via the special report, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the organization that markets the Pittsburgh region for domestic and international business investment. In addition, the report will have special circulation among the 2,000-plus delegates expected at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23 – 27. The World Economic Forum is considered the foremost creative force for engaging leaders in collaborative activities focused on shaping the global, regional and industry agendas in an effort to improve the world.

The theme for the 2013 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is “Resilient Dynamism” … “bold vision and even bolder action.” Pittsburgh has demonstrated these in its own transformation – examined in the fDi special report – making the region a model worth reading about.

See the complete report on Pittsburgh’s progress here. Get to know fDi Senior Markets Editor Michal Kaczmarski better and hear his first impressions of Pittsburgh during his maiden voyage in 2011 in this video clip.

Phil Cynar

Green News Update Editor and Publisher Roberta Faul-Zeitler has been paying attention to – and writing about – green practices since 2004. Her keen interest in sustainability as “a path, not a destination” (as her newly designed e-newsletter masthead proclaims) put her on a path to Pittsburgh this May. Here she explored the inordinately large number of green and sustainability assets in a place once considered to be among the most environmentally compromised of destinations.

Pittsburgh, a new kind of “Emerald City,” has put green (with regard to R&D and investment dollars) into cleaning up – both the natural environment (including its signature three rivers and waterfronts) and its built environment. Pittsburgh is a globally recognized green building leader and an innovator and manufacturer of materials and other components that make existing and new construction energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Pittsburgh registered three of the first 12 LEED structures in the U.S. more than a decade ago, according to the Green Building Alliance. There are more than 83 LEED certified buildings in the city now, and approximately 75 percent of new buildings in Pittsburgh are pursuing LEED certification.

Some are going the extra green mile, including Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which this year opened its Living Building, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a net-zero water and energy facility that will be among the greenest structures on the planet.

Eden Hall Field Lab / Rendering Courtesy of Chatham University

Another green masterpiece in the works is Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus, located in about 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh in northern Allegheny County. Ground was broken this fall for this ultra-green campus – the first academic community in the world built from the ground up for sustainable development, living and learning, Chatham officials say.

While in town this May to participate in a “green Pittsburgh” media study tour organized by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) and VisitPittsburgh – a tour with the grand opening of Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes as a focal point – Faul-Zeitler visited Chatham (where environmentalist and Silent Spring author Rachel Carson was an alumna) to learn more about the next major green project on the horizon for the region.

She dedicated space to Chatham’s visionary plan in a feature – “Greenest Campus in the U.S.” – in her Dec. 5, 2012 Green News Update. Read it here, and keep your eyes on the newsletter, which will be following the project.

The Allegheny Conference’s weekly business affairs TV show, Our Region’s Business, recently featured Chatham officials talking about plans for Eden Hall. Watch the interview here or below.


Click here to check out other stories that resulted from the the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance/VisitPittsburgh “Green Pittsburgh” media study tour. That May 2012 initiative brought 16 journalists from around the country and the world to learn about the Pittsburgh region’s energy leadership.

Phil Cynar

There’s more than meets the eye to the buildings that dot Pittsburgh’s picturesque skyline and populate its neighborhoods. Many of them — 83 to be exact — are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified-structures commonly called “green buildings” because their design, materials and operations are easy on the environment and energy usage.

Fact:  Pittsburgh – once notoriously tagged “hell with the lid off” because of its environmental pollution– registered three of the first 12 LEED structures in the United States. Fast-forward to today when some 75 percent of new buildings in the city are pursuing LEED certification. And more than 20 million square feet of real estate is part of a groundbreaking, high-performance building district that aims to dramatically reduce energy and water consumption, reduce transportation emissions and improve indoor air quality by 2030.

Green is definitely a way of life in Pittsburgh, the new “Emerald City.” But we’re even moving beyond green by designing and constructing “living buildings” that produce as much energy as they use and that capture precipitation and treat their own wastewater – leading to water independence. One such building is the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory, the site for today’s One Young World breakout session on “Sustainable Cultivation:  Growing Greener Communities Across the Globe.”

Recently, Architectural Record was so impressed by Pittsburgh’s green leadership, that it featured the city in a series on “Transforming the American City.”  And we’re on the cover, too. If you can’t make it to Phipps and the Center for Sustainable Landscapes for this afternoon’s breakout, you can read about it in an online version of the magazine. The article also features a sampling of some of our other green building gems. Several are in town and worth checking out while you’re here.

Finally, mark your calendars to come back in the summer of 2015 when the world’s tallest green skyrise – The Tower at PNC Plaza – will be open for business.

The energy leadership of organizations and innovators in the Pittsburgh region has been featured in yet another publication. TMS Journal (the publications of of The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society) recently ran a story about Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens new Center for Sustainable Landscapes – also known as Pittsburgh’s first (and one of the world’s only) “living” buildings. While the article draws out Phipps Executive Director Richard Piacentini on the evolution of the conservatory’s commitment to sustainable construction, it also highlights the work of such companies as New Castle’s Epiphany Solar Water Systems, Youngstown’s Solar FlexRack, McKees Rocks’ Energy Independent Solutions, as well as Downtown-based Design Alliance Architects and PPG Industries.

Read the story here, and click here to check out other stories that resulted from the the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance/VisitPittsburgh “Green Pittsburgh” media study tour. That initiative in May brought 16 journalists from around the country and the world to learn about the Pittsburgh region’s energy leadership.

What is the power of Pittsburgh? It’s the knack of local innovators and organizations to collaborate and develop new solutions to vexing problems. The region has demonstrated this in many ways, not least of which is its transformation from an economy based on muscle and steel to one with globally recognized thought leadership in green building and sustainability.

That leadership has been recognized nearly weekly this summer by a variety of publications, most recently Architectural Record/GreenSource magazine. An editor from that outlet participated in the green Pittsburgh media study tour in May, hosted by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and VisitPittsburgh. The publications highlighted Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens new Center for Sustainable Landscapes for its participation in the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) to create voluntary national guidelines for the design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes. You can read more about it here, and other related coverage here.

More specific to collaboration and Phipps, a number of regional companies contributed key technologies to the Center for Sustainable Landscapes. They include PPG, Berner International, the Center for Building Performance & Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, Green Building Alliance and The Design Alliance, among others.

Click on the PowerofPittsburgh YouTube video below to hear what Phipps’ Executive Director Richard Piacentini had to say about the Pittsburgh region’s collaborative leadership around sustainability.

Phil Cynar

“These folks [Pittsburghers] are inspiring. Check it out, ya’ll,” wrote Charleston, S.C.-based travel journalist Sharon Spence Lieb to end her article, “Pittsburgh Power,” published in the July 4 edition of the weekly Moultrie News. This full-page article – complete with five color photos of Pittsburgh – is yet another piece about Pittsburgh that resulted from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance/VisitPittsburgh “Green Pittsburgh” media study tour in May. Spence Lieb was one of the journalists recruited by VisitPittsburgh to participate in the tour.

She recounts highlights of Pittsburgh’s rich history, its story of transformation and the region’s commitment to green business and sustainability – as captured in her paragraphs about the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes “Living Building” at Phipps Conservatory – a highlight of the May media tour and a structure that’s been called an example of “green Pittsburgh under one roof.”

Charleston, S.C.-based travel writer Sharon Spence Lieb at May 2012 green media tour reception, Reed Smith terrace, 3 PNC Plaza

It’s often said that a relocation of an individual or a family, college or university choice or a business investment decision begin with a visit. For individuals from the not-so-far-away East Coast lowcountry considering any of the above – or simply a summertime getaway – Spence Lieb makes a compelling case for Pittsburgh. She summarizes the region well in these lines, “the city’s recipe for success: mix determination, resilience and down to earth friendliness. That’s Pittsburgh Power.”

Yes, indeed, “check it out, ya’ll” – for a summer sojourn or maybe something longer.

Read the complete “Pittsburgh Power” article here. And click here to see more coverage from the green media tour, and here or below to see more photos of the opening reception for the tour at the Reed Smith terrace, Three PNC Plaza, downtown.