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After 12 months of intense competition, Southwest Pennsylvania will soon know who the leaders are in green business practice and be able to celebrate their remarkable achievements. The winners of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Green Workplace Challenge will be announced October 18 at a Leadership Recognition and Awards Ceremony to be held at Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.


Over the past year, more than 50 forward-thinking businesses and organizations in our region took actions that resulted in improved energy efficiencies, water use and emissions reductions as part of the Green Workplace Challenge. Participants were required to measure and provide verification of their actions, earning points along the way. Actions cover a variety of topics, such as reducing energy and water use to working with employees to incorporate more carpooling or bike riding in their daily commutes.


In July, bonus actions were added to the Green Workplace Challenge in support of the Breathe Project to highlight the important role that reductions in energy use play in improving the region’s air quality. Companies received bonus points for joining the Breathe Project coalition, pledging to reduce their energy use by a specific percentage goal, and having their employees commit to our individual action pledges.


Next week’s ceremony will feature talks from challenge leaders sharing their inspirational stories of what is possible for energy savings and innovation. Speakers also will include Bill Flanagan, executive vice president of corporate relations for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and Caren Glotfelty, senior program director of The Heinz Endowments’ Environment Program. The keynote talk will be given by Victor Olgyay, principal architect of the Built Environment Team at the Rocky Mountain Institute, who will present “Taking Energy Efficiency to Scale: The Empire State Building.”


In addition, attendees will be able to see how much energy has been conserved as a result of the competition and what that means in terms of bottom line business rewards. The proof is in the numbers. From September 2011 to July 2012, Green Workplace Challenge participants had already saved 43,953,285 kWh of energy on an annual basis, the equivalent of roughly 3,823 U.S. households’ annual electricity use. This is more than the amount of energy used each year by homes in East Allegheny, Friendship, Polish Hill and Regent Square combined. They also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15,710 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and saved more than 56.4 million gallons of water on an annual basis.


The event also will provide a glimpse of what’s on tap for the Green Workplace Challenge in 2013, as well as the unveiling of the Sustainable Business Compact, a commitment and certification platform that will provide a credible and rigorous pathway for businesses to advance and publicly demonstrate their corporate sustainability achievements.


For more information and to register, click here.

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