How Three Southwestern Pennsylvania Rivertowns Became the First Three Certified EcoDistricts in the World
Thursday, August 26, 2021
7:45 AM – 9:15 AM
Delivery Format: Virtual Event
CE: 1.5 GBCI CE; 1.5 AIA LU|HSW
Session Description: The Boroughs of Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg have long been located in a vulnerable position - environmentally, economically, and in terms of social equity. The three communities share common boundaries along the Allegheny River, right outside of Pittsburgh, in addition to issues such as increasingly frequent flooding, poor air quality, the departure of major employers, the worsening opioid epidemic, and ongoing concerns regarding social equity. This presentation will tell the story of how these three communities came together over the past ten years to increase resiliency and create a new path forward. Each community has established themselves as an Ecodistrict, focusing on both the hardware or physical systems of places, as well as the software of social and cultural resiliency. These communities have engaged in planning and project implementation through six quality of life lenses (equity, food, water, energy, air quality, and mobility) as part of a comprehensive approach to sustainability. These three communities (referred to as the “Triboro Ecodistrict”) have committed to a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050. Over the past ten years, they have worked together to amplify their impact, including become the first three communities in the world to be certified by the national nonprofit - EcoDistricts. Together they acquired a $2.3 million grant to implement planning initiatives and projects. They were founding communities in a community land trust that secured a $5 million endowment upon startup. They engaged in regional air quality planning that led to the installation of interactive air quality monitoring stations that visualize current air quality conditions. Each community hosted an Idea Round-up that awarded residents microgrants to implement projects and programs in support of the Ecodistrict goals. They have launched a solar co-op to make buying residential rooftop solar panels easier and less expensive.
Describe what an Ecodistrict is, including why this approach is unique and what benefits it can offer.
Explain how the Ecodistricts approach creates more resilient and equitable communities while reducing their contributions to climate change.
Understand how community-scale initiatives can inspire building-scale sustainability efforts and vise versa.
A comprehensive approach to sustainability can address initiatives from the building-scale up to the multi-municipal scale.