Climate Action Plan not ready yet, but sustainability efforts continue


Throughout 2021, Aurora Sharrard, Pitt’s director of sustainability, and others have been teasing some of the proposed content for Pitt’s Climate Action Plan. But the final draft of the plan — which is still being discussed with key stakeholders, according to Sharrard — has yet to be revealed.

“As this is the first ever climate action plan for the University, we’ve been working very hard to get it right, including getting feedback from the right collaborators and stakeholders,” Sharrard said in an email.

She said there is no timeline yet for releasing the PittCAP, which is largely centered around meeting the Pitt’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2037, the University’s 250th anniversary. To meet that goal, Pitt has been identifying sources of its greenhouse gas emissions and tracking them on an online dashboard. The final greenhouse gas inventory for fiscal year 2020 should be released soon.

In the meantime, Pitt and the Office of Sustainability are taking several actions — and winning awards — on the sustainability front.

Healthy Ride

Sharrard said as campus occupancy has ramped back up, “we’ve seen very exciting ridership increases and encourage all Pitt students and employees to activate and use their unlimited 30-minute ride benefit.”

She said Student Affairs and Parking & Transportation partnered with Sustainability this year to ensure the offering is maintained. Healthy Ride also has said it will add electric bikes in 2022.

A new dashboard on the Office of Sustainability website tracks when, where and how many individuals at Pitt have taken advantage of the free 30-minute rides since fall 201 9. For 2021, the majority of trips were between four and 10 minutes long and the peak times were from 4 to 6 p.m. Campus use of Healthy Ride peaked the week of Sept. 19, with 927 undergraduates, 240 graduate students and 151 employees taking advantage of the service.

Awards and recognition

  • Pitt once again was awarded a Gold Star by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The association’s 2021 Sustainable Campus Index publication also highlighted Pitt’s textile recycling program. In January 2020, the University began offering textile recycling at 19 locations on campus and expanded to 28 in 2021. The program focuses on collecting unusable textiles. Usable items can be donated to the on-campus thrift store, Thriftsburgh. In 2020, Pitt diverted 7,866 pounds of textiles from landfills via the recycling program.

  • Pitt was recognized earlier this month as Organization of the Year by local bike advocacy organization BikePGH. In giving the recognition, the group cited several improvements over the past two years, including: Separated bike lanes in the Bigelow Boulevard transformation, the Healthy Ride program, the biggest Bike to Campus Week yet earlier this fall, Pitt’s first league cycling instructor seminar in July 2021 and additional bike parking infrastructure. The University’s biking team from multiple departments will receive the award at the BikePGH Business Member Awards Night on Nov. 16.

Other developments

  • In fiscal year 2020, Pitt reached its lowest total energy use per square foot since data tracking began in 2008, keeping it on track to reach its goal to reduce energy intensity 50 percent by 2030.

  • In addition to the 14 Pitt buildings already certified LEED, several other new or renovated structures are pursuing the green building rating. This includes renovations to Salk Hall, Allen B. Scaife Hall and Hillman Library, as well as new construction at Bradford, Johnstown and Greensburg and the new Recreation and Wellness Center in Oakland.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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