Pittsburgh City Council is considering a bill that would require all new and renovated buildings owned by the city to produce as much energy as they consume.
The ordinance is designed to comply with the city’s goal of a 50% reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Grant Ervin, Pittsburgh’s chief sustainability officer, said the effort significantly reduces energy costs.
“This allows us to reduce costs over time by being better stewards of the resources that we use,” he said. “Sometimes that might require a major capital outlay, but we’ll recover that money over the lifetime of the project.”
Pittsburgh owns about 300 buildings and calculated annual energy usage in 154 of its largest consumers, Ervin said. The city spent $2.7 million in 2017 on utilities for the 154 buildings. It estimates it can save about $1.35 million annually by using renewable sources such as solar panels and through efficiencies, including better insulation, LED lighting and new windows.
“LED lights are one of the quickest and easiest things that can be done to both capture cost and also optimize energy efficiency,” Ervin said.
Projects in the works include LED lighting for the City-County Building, Downtown, the city’s largest energy consumer, a new Department of Public Works maintenance facility in Knoxville and the Robert E. Williams Memorial Park shelter in the Hill District.
Council plans to schedule a public hearing on the bill before voting on it.
“Pittsburgh is taking real steps to meet its energy goals, and moving to net-zero construction will be one of the most meaningful and impactful actions we’ve ever taken,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement. “It is not only the right move for the planet, but for the city’s budget too.”