Painting a roof white the first of many steps to come for Oakland organization

The Oakland Planning and Development Corp. had a roof painted white recently. It may not be the most noticeable of changes, but the organization hopes it will help the building better reflect heat — and have a big effect on its energy usage.

The move, one of many planned by the organization, is part of a long-term commitment to cut energy use 50 percent by 2030. 

The company joined the Pittsburgh 2030 Challenge, which aims to cut energy, water use and transportation emissions in Downtown and Oakland.

“It’s a great project that brings together the ability to actually track potential changes in reductions in energy use,” said Wanda Wilson, executive director of the planning organization. “It’d be too much for everyone to track changes individually.” 

Right now, the Oakland Planning and Development Corp. is focused on making cuts to electricity, gas and water use, with changes that will be implemented throughout its properties by using efficient appliances and ventilation. The flat roof on a building next to the office was painted white to reduce heat gain and therefore cut down on cooling costs.

“We’d like to see an opportunity to implement some renewable energy sources, but we haven't had the opportunity. I don’t know if that’s something we’ll be able to do,” Ms. Wilson said. 

Pittsburgh 2030, which was launched in 2012, is overseen by the Green Building Alliance, based on the South Side. The program calculates energy savings by compiling data from each company and comparing it against the company’s baseline.

Pittsburgh’s savings as a whole are determined by comparing an aggregate savings against buildings across the country with Pittsburgh’s climate zone. 

“So it’s not being compared to something in Phoenix,” said Sean Luther, senior director of 2030 Districts. “It’s more like Chicago.”

According to Mr. Luther, it’s important that organizations like the Oakland Planning and Development Corp. get involved because they know the community. 

By 2015, a 10 percent reduction is expected, according to the organization. Though Pittsburgh 2030 does not impose a set of requirements for each building, it assists by calculating each company’s reduction and steering the organization in the direction toward savings based on the economic reality of each individual property.

Currently, most companies are working to reduce heating, air conditioning and light use, which are major consumers of energy. As technology advances, more people will continue to invest in their own buildings and market factors will shift to make the 2030 challenge a reality, Mr. Luther said.

Kate Mishkin: or 412-263-1352.

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