Sustainability in Pittsburgh Sports

by Sam Oliver

Whether it is hockey, football, or (sometimes) baseball, the city of Pittsburgh is no stranger to championships in the major leagues. While the players help to ensure that the on-field or on-ice product is at the highest level, the people working behind the scenes are making sure that the venues these events are held at are also operating at the highest level. The Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates have all made significant strides over the last few years to ensure that their arenas and stadiums are more sustainable.

Pittsburgh 2030 Districts and Major League Teams

In February 2013, Heinz Field became one of the many venues that joined the Pittsburgh 2030 Energy-Saving Effort. Pittsburgh is the North American leader in terms of size out of 22 international 2030 Districts. This is a voluntary effort to get property owners to pledge to reduce water consumption, energy use, and emissions usage by 50 percent by 2030. As a result of Heinz Field joining the network, all three major-league Pittsburgh teams are now part of the Pittsburgh 2030 Districts Network.

Pittsburgh Sports Venues and Sustainability

April 2020 saw the installation of solar panels at Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They set out to boost their sustainability goals by utilizing green energy from these panels to help reduce the stadium’s carbon footprint and help offset the team’s grid energy costs. Powerhome, the energy efficiency provider, completed the installation at Heinz Field, making it the fourth NFL stadium to utilize this technology to enhance its sustainability.

The Pittsburgh Penguins joined the Green Sports Alliance in April 2021 to further advance sustainability efforts at PPG Paints Arena. The Green Sports Alliance serves as a socially and environmentally responsible focused nonprofit organization that gather stakeholders from around the sporting world. In 2010, PPG Paints Arena became the first sports facility in North America to be LEED Gold Certified with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program. The home of the Penguins has already made huge strides towards becoming a premier sustainable sporting venue, and the joining of the Green Sports Alliance will only further these strides.

On Earth Day in 2021, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced their new and updated sustainable features and practices in cooperation with Duquesne Light Company surrounding their stadium, PNC Park. This partnership saw the re-opening of the PNC Park Urban Garden, which provides about 300 pounds of fresh produce each season. The food that is grown in this garden is used in dishes created by PNC Park’s Executive Chef for meals within the stadium. This partnership with Duquesne Light allows the team to continue to utilize their public position to promote the importance of sustainable practices throughout the city.

Moving Forward

Pittsburgh has emerged as one of the leaders in sustainability efforts, as seen with their position in the 2030 Districts Project. The sports teams in Pittsburgh are seen as leaders within the communities, and their sustainable efforts will continue to inspire those around them. With sustainable strides from the Penguins, Pirates, and Steelers, Pittsburgh sports teams will continue to see success both within and outside of the game.