Rich Heller

Rich Heller has a passion for sustainability, and his energy and hard work have contributed significantly to the beauty and sustainability of our campus. Rich has been a dedicated electrical engineer in the Facilities Management Division for many years. In that role, he has been instrumental in ensuring the safety, reliability, and efficiency of our buildings and utility distribution systems.

In his personal life, Rich has a strong interest in gardening, particularly with regard to native plants and providing habitat for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.  He volunteers at a public school near his home where he has established a native plant garden, and he’s a regular volunteer at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Beyond Rich’s official capacity at the University, he enjoys working with students to promote sustainable solutions on campus.  Rich volunteers as a mentor and judge for the annual Sustainable Solutions Competition, and he was intimately involved in last year’s winning project – Marlie Gardens.  Rich helped the winning team to select appropriate native plants for the design of the garden, and arranged for the Pitt grounds crew to order the plants and supply tools and materials for the volunteers.  When it came time to do the planting, Rich and his wife were right there with the students on a Saturday, in the cold rain and mud, to ensure that all plants were properly planted.  He has come back on multiple occasions to help maintain the garden, including a project for this year’s PMADD.

Rich serves as a co-chair on the University-wide Sustainability Committee and advocates for sustainable features in construction projects.  He also recently managed a project with Phipps Conservatory to develop a sustainable landscape standard for the University.  The standard will guide design professionals and maintenance staff in the incorporation of more native and low maintenance plants as well as the reduction of erosion and storm water runoff on campus.

Rich Heller is a 2017 Pitt Sustainability Award Winner (Staff)