Sustainable Development

The URA is committed to fostering, encouraging, and supporting sustainable development and green building practices to the maximum extent practical and possible in the City of Pittsburgh. To that end, the URA has adopted a Sustainability and Green Design Policy which includes all aspects of our activities – from day-to-day operations to the creation of large-scale mixed-use developments.

The purpose of this policy is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of our activities while simultaneously responding to the increasing market demand for products and services that are more environmentally benign.

The benefits of green buildings are both broad and specific. For businesses, green buildings can offer economic advantages including lower operating costs, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and higher rental and retail sales rates. Green residential developments provide occupants with lower monthly utility bills as well as increased comfort and indoor air quality.

Pittsburgh is recognized as a leader in the construction of green buildings and we believe that the maintenance of this position is advantageous. There are currently 18 URA-sponsored Green projects either under construction or in planning.

In order to encourage sustainable development, the URA is offering reduced interest rates on qualifying business loans for projects that achieve certification under the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED program. The interest rate reduction increases with the level of certification achieved and can be as much as 2.5% below the going rate. For more information on this program, see the URA's Green Design Initiative and Incentives.

It is extremely important that green strategies are incorporated into projects during the pre-design phase in order to realize the most cost effective implementation strategies.

Green Case Studies

Green Development Resources

Earning the ENERGY STAR®

The URA now requires all new residential construction projects that we build or finance earn the ENERGY STAR®.

ENERGY STAR specifications make homes more energy efficient and comfortable which helps homeowners save money on utility bills and prevents unwanted pollution from energy production (mercury, particulates, CO2, etc.) from entering our atmosphere.

The URA has also adopted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indoor airPLUS specifications which address other aspects of whole house performance. These additional specifications help make homes that have earned the ENERGY STAR even more durable and healthy to live in by addressing issues including moisture and indoor air quality.

Download Guidelines for Building Energy Efficient New Homes with the URA.

Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure refers to the practice of managing urban stormwater through a variety of “source control? strategies. These strategies keep stormwater from entering our combined sewer system which prevents the system from overflowing and contaminating local waterways with untreated sewage and other contaminants carried by stormwater as it washes over the City’s impermeable surfaces. Green infrastructure technologies include green roofs, rain gardens, street trees, rain barrels, bio-swales, and constructed wetlands. These practices mimic natural pre-development hydrology by using plants and soils to absorb, or detain, rainwater before it gets into our sewers. The URA is a strong proponent of the green infrastructure approach because it not only helps ease the burden on our already overtaxed urban infrastructure but because it increases the quality of life in our city by making our neighborhoods literally greener and improving water quality in our rivers, making them available for recreation more days of the year. Learn more >