Onorato Highlights Allegheny County Green Accomplishments On Earth Day
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato this week, in honor of Earth Day, introduced the Allegheny Green Bulletin, a bi-monthly newsletter that highlights ways that County employees and departments are promoting sustainable practices.
The first edition of the newsletter features stories about the green roof on the County Office Building, as well as the County’s energy conservation initiative, which is expected to save taxpayers $2 million annually and reduce electricity and water usage.
“County employees have enthusiastically embraced our sustainability efforts, and the Allegheny Green Bulletin provides an opportunity for us to showcase the results of the sustainable practices we’re implementing,” said Onorato. “For example, the County’s green roof is already saving energy, reducing stormwater runoff, and cutting down on the amount of pollution reaching our rivers. We hope the Allegheny Green Bulletin will inspire our residents and employees to take more steps to benefit the environment.”
This Earth Day, Onorato is also highlighting numerous accomplishments related to Allegheny Green, his comprehensive initiative to promote sustainable practices within County government and through countywide policies and programs.
“As we take time on Earth Day to think about our planet, there is progress to celebrate,” added Onorato. “As a community, we’ve taken steps to clean our air, water and land and to promote sustainable development, but we can and must do more. Through the Allegheny Green initiative, County government is leading by example, and we’re encouraging residents, businesses and municipalities to join us in realizing the environmental and economic benefits of going green.”
The following are Allegheny County’s major sustainability efforts and milestones during the past year--
-- Stormwater Management Symposium: In April 2010, the County Executive hosted a regional water symposium to discuss stormwater challenges for municipalities. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council and 3 Rivers Wet Weather joined Allegheny County in an effort to develop a coordinated regional approach for stormwater management. The symposium addressed several municipal stormwater challenges, including capacity, the consent decree and planning process, governance, cost allocation models, and green infrastructure. Municipal officials, engineers, and ALCOSAN participated in panel discussions.
-- Chapman Commerce Center: In May 2010, Onorato broke ground on the Chapman Commerce Center, a 302-acre brownfield development in Findlay Township. Formerly used for strip mining, the mixed use project will include a 93,000 square-foot warehouse that will be LEED-certified.
-- Five-Minute Idling Limit: Also in May 2010, Onorato approved an air quality regulation adopted by the Allegheny County Health Department. The regulation limits diesel-fueled off-road vehicles to no more than five consecutive minutes of idling. The rule applies to any person or business that owns or operates diesel-fueled compression ignition engines of 25 horsepower or greater that power vehicles not designed to be driven on the road or not registered for on-road use and operated in Allegheny County. These vehicles are typically used in construction, mining, landfilling, manufacturing, warehousing, airport ground support and other industrial operations.
-- World Environment Day: In June 2010, the County Executive welcomed the world to Pittsburgh, which was selected as the North American host city for World Environment Day 2010 by the United Nations Environment Programme. The main event was the Water Matters! Global Water Conference held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Experts from around the world discussed the importance of water to health, energy and the economy. As a reflection of the importance of water, Venture Outdoors organized “Paddle at the Point,” where participants set a Guinness World Record with a flotilla of 1619 canoes and kayaks.
-- Greenhouse Gas Inventory: Also in June 2010, the County Executive announced the results of a comprehensive baseline inventory of the annual greenhouse gas emissions resulting from County government operations. Developing the report required gathering all cost and utilization data related to energy, water consumption, vehicle fleet, waste hauling, and a variety of additional carbon and greenhouse gas-generating items, such as fuel tanks, fire suppression systems and mechanical equipment. The report included recommendations on how Allegheny County could reduce emissions, some of which have already been implemented in County buildings. They include purchasing more electricity from renewable energy sources, installing low-flow plumbing features, using LED fixtures, and using timers and management systems to control HVAC equipment and lighting.
-- Appliance Recycling Program: In July 2010, the Allegheny County Health Department sponsored free pickup and recycling of refrigerant-containing appliances that needed to be discarded, including refrigerators, dehumidifiers, water coolers and air conditioners. Recycling such appliances not only cuts down on illegal dumping and saves valuable landfill space, but also prevents the release of refrigerant gases that deplete the ozone layer.
-- County Office Building Green Roof: In August 2010, the County Executive dedicated the green roof on the County Office Building located at 542 Forbes Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. The green roof is the first of its kind on a public building in Allegheny County. Half of the County Office Building’s roof, an area of 8400 square feet, was covered in waterproof fabric, various insulating and water-trapping materials, and soil and plants native to Southwestern Pennsylvania. It features four distinct types of green roofing methods, including mat and tray systems, as well as semi-intensive and intensive systems. The green roof absorbs rainwater, thereby alleviating stress on Pittsburgh’s combined sewer system and reducing pollutants entering the rivers.
-- Energy & Utility Audit Recommendations: Also in August 2010, the County Executive announced plans to improve energy efficiency in the Allegheny County Jail and the four Kane Regional Centers, as recommended by the investment-grade audit of electricity, steam, natural gas and water usage conducted by NORESCO, an energy service company. To reduce electricity consumption, the County will upgrade lighting and install room occupancy sensors in the Jail and Kane Regional Centers.
Additionally, the County will upgrade HVAC, the steam and waste disposal systems, replace chillers and boilers, and improve plumbing controls and water conservation measures. These improvements will reduce Allegheny County’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 4,629,246 pounds of carbon dioxide, 188 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and 1,411 pounds of sulfur oxides.
-- PJM Interconnection Demand Response Program: In August 2010, the County Executive announced Allegheny County’s participation in the PJM Interconnection’s Demand Response Program to aid in the reliability of the regional electricity grid. The PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. PJM serves 51 million people. Through the program, successful participants receive payments for voluntarily reducing their electricity use when heavy demand threatens the PJM electricity grid and brownouts or blackouts are imminent.
-- Allegheny Green & Innovation Festival: Also in August 2010, Allegheny County hosted the first Allegheny Green & Innovation Festival at the Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater. The free event celebrated the County’s evolution to a green economy and featured ways for residents to become more sustainable in their everyday lives. The festival was a zero-waste event, which included earth-friendly food and product vendors, crafts, green living demonstrations, musical entertainment and children’s activities.
-- FarmCorps Season-End Celebration: In October 2010, Onorato celebrated the successful season of the Allegheny FarmCorps. The County Executive established the Allegheny FarmCorps in April 2010 to provide education, training and hands-on experience in sustainable farming to students and volunteers. Operating out of a two-acre plot in Round Hill Park, the FarmCorps grew okra, collard greens, and several varieties of beans, kale and mustard greens. These crops were grown at the request of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, which will receive all produce grown by FarmCorps.
-- Christmas Tree Recycling Program: For the third year in a row, Allegheny County ran a Christmas tree recycling program from December 26, 2010, through January 22, 2011. Residents dropped off trees at Boyce, North, Settler’s Cabin and South parks for recycling and mulching.
-- NACo Energy Efficiency Forum: In January 2011, the County Executive and Sustainability Manager Jeaneen Zappa were featured speakers at the National Association of Counties’ 2011 Forum on Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy in Los Angeles. They discussed energy conservation projects funded by an $8.1 million Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) from the U.S. Department of Energy. With these funds, Allegheny County conducted energy audits of its largest buildings and is installing energy saving features, such as upgraded lighting, room occupancy sensors, HVAC upgrades, and new boilers and condensers. All counties represented at the forum have received either EECBG funding or similar grants.
-- Allegheny Grows Expansion: In February 2011, the County Executive announced that Bellevue, Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg were selected to join Allegheny Grows, an initiative to encourage urban farming and community gardening on vacant lots and blighted properties. The three municipalities joined nine others that participated in year one of the program – Bridgeville, Elizabeth Borough, McKees Rocks, Millvale, Sharpsburg, Stowe Township, Swissvale, Tarentum and Verona.
-- Active Allegheny Plan: Also in February 2011, Onorato announced the completion of Active Allegheny, the County’s first comprehensive active transportation plan. Active Allegheny integrates non-vehicular modes of transportation, specifically walking and biking, into the County’s transportation system.
Visit the Allegheny County Green webpage for more about Allegheny County’s green initiatives.
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