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

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.

Spied recently at the Learning Express in Cranberry: Good Night, Pittsburgh.

Riffing on – but apparently not affiliated with – the wildly popular Goodnight, Moon, it is one in a series of children’s board books heralding places across North America in hopes of “instilling an early appreciation for the continent’s natural and cultural wonders… starring a multicultural group of people visiting the featured area’s attractions and rhythmic language guides children through the passage of both a single day and the four seasons while saluting the iconic aspects of each place.”

Others include Good Night, New York; Good Night, New Orleans and – in Spanish – Buenas Noches, Estados Unidos.

Featured in Good Night, Pittsburgh are dreamy depictions of our region’s three rivers, parks, museums, zoo, aviary, sports teams, Cathedral of Learning and the Pitt Panther.

Check it out, young Pittsburghers!

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.


Phil Cynar

“America’s former industrial center is now a hub for sustainable design, green technology, LEED-certified buildings and groundbreaking startups.” So says in“Green Living in America’s ‘Steel City,’ ” a June 29 article by New York-based business and travel contributor Tracey Greenstein. image from atop U.S. Steel tower, May 2012

Greenstein was one of 15 national and international journalists who participated in a recent study tour of Pittsburgh’s “emerald assets.” Hosted by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance in cooperation with VisitPittsburgh, participants learned about companies and institutions that are pioneering new solutions in energy, intelligent building and sustainability.

It’s just one of several articles generated by the study tour. Read them all here on our blog,