Shades of Green: Telling the Story of Pittsburgh’s Transformation

Guest blog by Eleanora Kaloyeropoulou

Pittsburgh is perhaps best known as a steel town, but the collapse of steel in the 1970s and 80s challenged the city to grow its economy in new ways. That innovation didn’t always happen in ways that allowed everyone a seat at the table—especially when low-income neighborhoods were razed to connect the city to the suburbs.  Still, the city continues to move forward as a hub of innovation in technology, placemaking, and more—with environmental and equity issues at the forefront.

Now, Green Building Alliance (GBA) is telling Pittsburgh’s story — one of the most dramatic environmental transformations in American history. The “Pittsburgh Green Story” website was launched in February 2017 to showcase Pittsburgh’s leadership in green innovation to national media. 

The site incorporates a broad definition of “green,” including pieces about how environmental challenges impact health and equity across the region. Pittsburgh Green Story also seeks to tell an inclusive story by elevating the voices of the racial minority groups so often left out of the city’s dialogue, and by highlighting the backgrounds and visions of local green Instigators who are striving to make Pittsburgh the ‘most livable city’ that it is often touted to be.

It’s easy to see that Pittsburgh has come a long way from being “hell with the lid off.” The famous stories of streetlights burning 24/7 and businessmen changing into new, crisp, white shirts at noon to shed black pollution are exactly that—stories of the past that no longer reflect our reality. This transformation didn’t happen overnight, and it still has a long way to go. But today there is green innovation happening in each of Pittsburgh’s ninety neighborhoods and, one by one, the Pittsburgh Green Story is telling each of these unique stories. With each story lead, Pittsburgh Green Story is holding up Pittsburgh as a model for environmental transformation. Pittsburgh Green Story is emphasizing the organizations and individuals who made this change possible, focusing on Pittsburgh’s challenges and bright future.

Eleanora Kaloyeropoulou is an intern in PEC’s Energy & Climate program and a contributor to GBA’s Pittsburgh Green Story project. She is a 2016 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and plans to pursue a law degree at the University of Virginia starting this fall.

Check out Pittsburgh Green Story and submit a story idea here.