Thursday, June 25, 2009

Green Building Alliance Offices on South Side Receive Highest Possible LEED Platinum Rating

The Pittsburgh Green Building Alliance’s 3,850-square-foot office space on the South Side has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum certification - the highest possible rating for energy efficiency and sustainability - from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Located in the historic River Walk Corporate Centre, GBA’s offices were designed and constructed in 2008 as a model of resource and material efficiency, as well as a green building teaching tool and demonstration project. They serve as an example of how old industrial buildings can be converted into environmentally friendly spaces, and are the first project in Western Pennsylvania to receive USGBC’s highest rating.

"I am thrilled to be part of an organization that not only strives to make this region a beacon of green building best practices, but that also continues to push the boundaries of what we can accomplish in the green building arena," said Holly Childs, GBA’s executive director. "It is critical that we continue to devise ways to build, renovate, operate and maintain buildings in a more economically, environmentally and socially beneficial manner."

The LEED Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. There are four levels of building certification under the LEED system: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. GBA’s space was awarded 75 percent of the total points available under the LEED for Commercial Interiors program.

Many of the original building components in GBA’s offices were retained, including leaded glass windows and brick walls. Wood floors in the two enclosed office spaces were salvaged from the renovation of Vincentian Convent in Pittsburgh and reused. The HVAC system is a model of high efficiency, maximizing fresh air flow to contribute to an optimal indoor environment that, combined with the use of materials that do not off-gas volatile organic compounds, creates a space that is both comfortable and healthy.

GBA’s offices use 22 percent less energy than conventionally constructed office space, and all appliances and fixtures have high efficiencies. Forty percent less water is used as a result of low flow fixtures, including toilets, showers and faucets.

Nearly all furnishings in the offices are reused, salvaged or refurbished. New materials employed in the project include a number of products made by local manufacturers, as well as some made from recycled materials and rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo.

Additionally, 99.9 percent of construction waste
generated by the project was diverted from a landfill by reusing materials on-site, recycling and donating items to Construction Junction, which is Pittsburgh’s building material reuse retailer.

"What impressed me most about this project were the team members and their attitudes," said Michael Kuhn, project executive, vice president, Jendoco Construction Corporation.

"The goal was to create an energy-efficient, highly sustainable, healthy space, not a 'LEED Platinum' space. It was clear that our team was not going to chase points where they were inappropriate for the sake of earning a certain level of certification. Difficult decisions had to be made regarding systems, budgets, and schedules--just like on all other projects--but because of the depth of knowledge, experience and creativity represented on the team, strategies were developed that allowed the project to be a success. The end result is a great and fitting achievement for the Green Building Alliance, an organization that has always been a leader in sustainable building initiatives both regionally and nationally."

GBA is also the first USGBC chapter or affiliate to achieve LEED certification for its offices.

"The USGBC's vital work toward market transformation would not be possible without the dedicated grassroots commitment of our regional chapters and affiliates," said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC’s president, CEO, and founding chair. "It is extremely gratifying to see such an affiliate - the Green Building Alliance - achieve the exemplary success of LEED Platinum certification for its offices. This remarkable project will stand as an example and will greatly benefit the Western Pennsylvania community, while also helping us heal our planet’s environment and economy."

In Western Pennsylvania, there are more than 55 LEED-certified projects - and another 130 projects that are registered as pursuing LEED certification.

Green Building Alliance is a nonprofit organization that advances economic prosperity and human well-being in Western Pennsylvania by driving market demand for green buildings and green building products across every aspect of the built environment.

More information at


Monday, June 22, 2009

Pittsburgh Teachers Departing on Summer European Study Trip With World Affairs Council

Twelve Pittsburgh-area school teachers will depart June 27 for a two-week study tour of Europe with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

Thanks to a grant from the European Union, the tour will provide local educators with an opportunity to experience first-hand the history and culture of France, Belgium, Austria and Slovakia.

While in Europe, the educators will visit such organizations as NATO, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission, in addition to other historically and culturally significant sites. The tour will also include visits with various national delegations to the European Union. Each day, the groups will engage in discussions about current political, economic, and security issues facing Europe as well as the implications these issues may have on transatlantic relations.

Through the European Union grant, all tour expenses, including domestic and international flights, will be covered. As a result of the new Delta direct flight, the group will fly directly from Pittsburgh to Paris. The majority of the trip will be spent in Brussels, Belgium and Vienna, Austria with a short day-trip to Bratislava, Slovakia.

The teachers will be led by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh President, Dr. Schuyler Foerster, with Christina Unger and Janet Foerster joining as further staff support. Thomas Olszewski, a teacher from Canon McMillan, will serve as an educational facilitator and lesson-planning coordinator.

Congratulations to the twelve educators the Council selected, through a highly competitive process, to participate. The twelve fellowship recipients are:

* Ashlee Beckett, Jefferson Middle School
* Jeffrey Boggess, Avonworth High School
* Laura Burns, Baldwin High School
* Sylvia Fields, Eden Hall Foundation
* Mary Ellen Jutca, Trinity High School
* Joe Lander, Oil City Senior High School
* Megan Pankiewicz, Ringgold High School
* Thomas Olszewski, Canon McMillan High School
* Richard Schiavoni, Vincentian Academy
* Jaimie Sebastianelli, Hempfield Area High School
* Joann Urbaniak, North Allegheny Intermediate High School
* Amanda Wetzel, Shaler Area High School

For more information, follow the group's blog at READ FULL ARTICLE

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Reason to Retain College Graduates in Pittsburgh - $1.8 Billion Economic Infusion, Blogger Says

If Pittsburgh increased the number of college graduates living in the region by just one percent, the local economy would enjoy a $1.8 billion infusion thanks to higher salaries and increased spending power, not to mention a lower unemployment rate.

So says commentator and innovative urban real estate developer Eve Picker in her blog Utterly Opinionated. The research data comes from a group she's involved with called CEOs for Cities.

"If Pittsburgh focused on increasing the number of residents with four year college degrees by just 1 percent, we’d reap an annual dividend, the 'Talent Dividend,' of $1.8 billion dollars," she writes. "[That is] the equivalent to the payroll of a very, very large company. This is not an argument for education. This is an argument for economic development."

Picker, an Australian with an urban planning background who moved to Pittsburgh in the '90s, endorses continuing efforts to help connect jobseekers, both from inside and outside the region, with available jobs (some 20,000 of which can be found at the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance's website), retain graduates from the region's dozens of colleges and universities, lure back people who have left the region over the years, and find ways to help those who have dropped out get their college degrees.

It's people like Eve Picker with big visions that will help the Pittsburgh region continue to grow and innovate. That's GlobalPittsburgh's opinion.

Read Eve Picker's blog at READ FULL ARTICLE

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

GlobalPittsburghEats - Pittsburgh's Seviche Offers Tantalizing Mix of Style and Taste

A little secret - if you go to Seviche, sort of a Latino sushi bar nestled in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, they'll roll out the red carpet if you tell them it's your first visit. Even if it's not. They won't care. Any excuse for more fun.

Located at 930 Penn Ave., Seviche offers a taste of Cuba and Miami in a Pittsburgh-friendly sort of way. Plenty of beautiful people, sure, but also several regular folks like us. One night we were there, the manager's parents were there from the 'burbs, hugging and high-fiving with customers and staff. Only in Pittsburgh.

Seviche (the food) is an ancient preparation of raw seafood in a citrus marination (traditionally lime juice) that has the effect of essentially cooking the meat with a refreshing and invigorating result. There are usually fresh veggies and spicy peppers involved, too, so it's a delicious combination.

Seviche (the restaurant) boasts "an eclectic blend of traditional Latin American recipes and modern ingredients infused with international influences."

Any of the knowledgable staff will tell you that the kitchen’s main attraction is the seviche bar, which features 15 fresh sushi-quality seafood selections that may be ordered in seven different preparations.

Diners can choose from raw Ahi Tuna, Scottish Salmon, Hamachi (Yellowtail Snapper), Bahamian Conch, Oyster or Fish of the Day, and semi-cooked Lobster, Shrimp, Crab, Octopus, Scallop, Mussels and Calamari.

Seviche also offers a wide selection of Tapas, the small-plate servings heavy on seafood also traditional in Latino cultures, and Bocadillos, which are a kind of rustic sandwiches of pork or beef. The menu can be confusing, given all the possible combinations, but our server was happy to make good recommendations.

The bartender whipped up a wicked Mojito (repeat after me, "It's my first time here,") and the wine list looked excellent.

Executive Chef/Owner Yves Carreau came to Pittsburgh in 1984 from his native France (via Los Angeles) to manage the kitchen at the Churchill Valley Country Club. Four years later, he opened his own venture, Asiago, a French/Italian restaurant, located in One Oxford Centre, downtown Pittsburgh.

As the Seviche website boasts, "Carreau now brings his worldly sophistication to Pittsburgh with both Seviche and the Sonoma Grille, a melting pot of international cuisine, wrapped with a California twist."

An evening at Seviche, which offers valet parking at a reasonable price, is like taking a trip to South Beach or Havana minus the hassle and expense. A great asset to Pittsburgh.

930 Penn Ave.
Cultural District

Hours: Dinner Mondays-Saturdays 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
Prices: All plates, $7-$12; desserts, $8; wines, $6-$16.

- Thomas Buell, Jr.
GlobalPittsburghEats offers occasional candid reviews of international restaurants in the Pittsburgh region.

Monday, June 15, 2009

World Affairs Council Live Webcast: Great Decisions - Afghanistan/Pakistan

Wednesday June 17, 2009
Lite Fare Reception: 5:30 p.m.
Program: 6-8 p.m
Live Webcast: 6 p.m.

Ethan Casey, Author of Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time and a frequent public speaker on Pakistan.

Fawad Butt, Chief Executive Officer, Zeus Capital Advisers

Location: Rivers Club, One Oxford Centre, 301 Grant Street, Downtown Pittsburgh

New found hopes for stability in Iraq have shifted the U.S. military focus back to Afghanistan and Pakistan, one of the most volatile border regions in the world. What impact will this renewed interest have on the two states as well as on U.S. defense strategy?

Register for the program or participate via the free live webcast. Webcast viewers will be able to submit questions during the Q&A period. Click here to watch the live webcast at 6 p.m. on Wednesday June 17, 2009. READ FULL ARTICLE

Two Days Was Not Enough in "Surprising" Pittsburgh, Blogs Lonely Planet US Travel Editor

Pittsburgh has gained yet another fan in Robert Reid, U.S. Travel Editor of the Lonely Planet franchise and author of dozens of travel books, who writes in his "Reid on Travel" blog that a two-day visit to this "surprising" city was not long enough.

"We found a Pittsburgh that's outgrown its first syllable," he writes. "Curling about three rivers below forested hills, the surprising 251-year-old city has quietly prettied itself up the past decade. Gone are (most) of the smokestacks, replaced with shimmering new buildings, a slew of public art in the form of four-floor-high murals, 14-foot-fish-on-a-stick and heated water sculptures that trickle all year."

Reid and his family walked around the city, talked to the friendly denizens, crossed the bridges, ate in the restaurants, ventured to Fallingwater and watched boats cruising on the rivers.

"I live for moments like these -- complete surprises in unexpected places," Reid writes. "The essence of travel. I love going to towns and imagining myself a local. Scrolling classifieds for apartment rent rates, passing through neighborhoods to find one for myself, like Pittsburgh's gorgeous Georgetown-style townhouses on quiet shady lanes of the Mexican War Streets historic district (without a doubt my favorite neighborhood name in the USA)."

Thanks for the attention, Robert!

Read the full blog post at


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pittsburgh Region Leads All U.S. Metro Areas in Overall Energy Industry Rankings, Study Says

Pittsburgh is the only U.S. metro area to rank in the Top 25 by employment in each of the major energy sectors - cleaner coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, transmission & distribution components and intelligent building tech, according to a study by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and obtained by GlobalPittsburgh.

More than 700 firms are engaged in extracting, delivering and designing more innovative and environmentally friendly ways of producing and consuming energy. Those firms employ more than 105,000 people and contribute more than 10 percent to the gross regional product, according to the ACCD report prepared for the organization's recent Regional Investors Council Summit.

After ranking the Top 25 metropolitan areas by emloyment in each of the seven energy sectors, the ACCD determined that Pittsburgh is the only region that ranks in the Top 25 across all sectors of the energy economy.

"This means that our energy economy is diversified," the report stated. "It is also integrated from our natural resource base through the supply chain of traditional, alternative and systems industries. And it is dynamic; new jobs are being created today in our region's energy economy, and even more opportunities exist tomorrow from our innovations."

The ACCD determined that the Pittsburgh region demonstrates current strengths in the coal, nuclear, transmission & distribution, and green building technologies, and shows strong potential growth opportunities in the solar and wind technology areas.

The region is home to the National Energy Technology Laboratory, located on Cochran's Mill Road, the country's only fossil fuel national research lab, which receives more than $600 million per year in funding. Other research & development goes on in the private sector at Consol Energy in South Hills and at the region's world-class academic institutions - the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Penn State University.

On a smaller scale, public and private research into alternative energy sources is under way in the region, and businesses continue to spring up.

For example, Solar Power Industries Inc. of Rostraver recently announced that it is leasing part of Sony Corp.'s plant in Westmoreland County to expand its production capabilities and tap into growing demand for alternative energy generation sources.

The Allegheny Conference has indicated that it will sharpen its focus on the energy sector "to leverage the most from this industry toward the duel end goals of economic prosperity and environmental sustainability."

- Thomas Buell, Jr. READ FULL ARTICLE

Friday, June 5, 2009

Three Rivers Arts Festival Brings World Music, Art & Attention to Pittsburgh for 10 Days

A 10-day schedule of world-class art, free music and celebrations starts today with the opening of the 50th Annual Three Rivers Arts Festival, which returns to the newly revitalized Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Reggae stars The Wailers and world performing artists Toubab Krewe from West Africa are among the free concerts at this year's Arts Festival. For more information, call 412-456-6666 or visit for a full schedule of events.

Among more than 100 individual events and performances featuring more than 500 artists, highlights of the 2009 Festival include:

* 10 days and nights of live music featuring more than 50 individual acts. Main stage music in Point State Park is sponsored by Dollar Bank.
* An expanded Children's Area featuring performances in the WQED-TV Family Entertainment Tent and hands-on activities.
* The traditional Artists Market, where artists gather to sell original art works and handmade fine crafts.
* Visual arts exhibitions in numerous Cultural District gallery spaces
* The return of the Festival's Zero-Waste Initiative, generously supported by Colcom Foundation.

What started as a "little outdoor art show" in 1960 has grown into the region's largest multidisciplinary showcase of visual art and performing arts, and draws exhibitors and participants from around the world.

Founded by the Women's Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art, Three Rivers Arts Festival has presented, during its vast and varied history, more than 10,000 visual and performing artists and entertained millions of residents and visitors.

"The work presented at Three Rivers Arts Festival represents both the artistic diversity of the Pittsburgh community and the Festival's historic legacy," said J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

The Three Rivers Arts Festival remains one of the longest-running free arts events of its kind in the United States. "In these economic times, Three Rivers Arts Festival is more important than ever," said Deborah Acklin, Three Rivers Arts Festival advisory board chair. "The Festival's new home at The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust allows the Festival to continue presenting a robust schedule of free, high-quality, family-friendly art activities and performances." READ FULL ARTICLE

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pittsburgh Leaders Traveling to Europe to Study Industrial Cities, Spread Word About Region

A group of prominent Pittsburghers will travel to Europe this month to study how other post-industrial cities are learning to grow, and to spread the word about success stories in the Pittsburgh region.

The group, which also includes representatives of Cleveland and Detroit, will visit Turin, Italy and Essen, Germany, both of which suffered the collapse of their industrial base around the same time the steel industry bottomed out in Pittsburgh.

Organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the June 13-21 trip is the latest activity involving the Transatlantic Cities Network, a group of 25 cities on both sides of the Atlantic.

Representing Pittsburgh on the trip are Allen Kukovich – Executive Director, Regional Visioning Project, University of Pittsburgh; William Getty – President, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Audrey Russo – President & CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council; and Tracy Certo – Publisher and Editor, Pop City Media.

The Network “provides a framework for the exchange of information about innovative policies, best practices, and local policy challenges among a diverse network of policymakers, practitioners, and civic leaders who are well-positioned to put new ideas into practice in their home cities.”

Cities in the Transatlantic Cities Network were chosen “based on their potential to share innovative policy solutions in certain key policy areas, as well as to benefit from the experiences of other cities in different policy areas.”

Other U.S. cities in the TCN are Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Charlotte, NC, Cleveland, OH, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Oakland, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Portland, OR, San Antonio, TX, and Washington, D.C.

European cities are Belgrade, Birmingham, Brussels, Copenhagen, Essen, Genoa, Krakow, Leipzig, Lille, Lyon, Rotterdam, Turin and Valencia.

The trip supports the efforts of Pittsburgh’s Regional Visioning Project, which is drafting a set of goals for the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area, a 30-county region that spans four states and includes nearly 4 million residents.

Coordinators of the project, which is led by former Pennsylvania State Senator Kukovich, will focus on building a consensus among the region’s residents, instead of following the more traditional approach of drafting and implementing a long-term regional plan from the top down.

The first major public event of the process was a town hall meeting on May 20 staged by cityLIVE!, an event series jointly supported by local foundations and media. The evening featured former Mayor of Turin Valentino Castellani. During his term in the 1990s, Castellani spearheaded the creation of Turin’s region-based, internationally-focused Strategic Plan, which was drafted collaboratively by over 100 stakeholders representing a broad cross-section of the public, government, and business.

The Transatlantic Cities Network is supported by the Bank of America Foundation, the Compagnia di San Paolo, and the Ford Foundation.

- Thomas Buell, Jr. READ FULL ARTICLE

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pittsburgh-Based K&L Gates Opens Law Offices in Dubai - Marks 33rd Global Office

Pittsburgh-Based K&L Gates LLP has established its 33rd office worldwide with the opening of an office in Dubai, the firm’s first in the Middle East. The launch follows K&L Gates international office openings in Singapore and Frankfurt earlier this year.

“The Gulf Region is, has been, and will continue to be of strategic importance to the global economy,” said K&L Gates Chairman and Global Managing Partner Peter J. Kalis. “K&L Gates is delighted to launch our presence in the Region to serve our distinguished clients who are active in the United Arab Emirates and throughout the Middle East.”

K&L Gates is a global law firm with offices in North America, Europe and Asia, and represents numerous Global 500, Fortune 100, and FTSE 100 corporations, in addition to growth and middle market companies, entrepreneurs, capital market participants and public sector entities.

With a strong background in international arbitration and dispute resolution, Neal Brendel will relocate from Pittsburgh to be a co-founder of the firm’s Dubai office. Brendel’s dispute resolution practice has included major matters in various international venues and subject areas, the firm said.

“Dubai has demonstrated a commitment to become a leading venue for international dispute resolution," Brendel said. "The client community and the international arbitration bar have taken notice. I am pleased to be able to participate in this development on behalf of K&L Gates’ clients.”

For more information, go to