Pitt Sustainability Successes, 2019-20 Academic Year

New to campus or just looking for a quick update on what Pitt Sustainability accomplished in academic year 2019-20? Start here!

The University of Pittsburgh has been advancing sustainability activities across campus for decades, but in the 2019-20 academic year, we celebrated some new commitments, achievements, and milestones!

Our cross-departmental Pitt Sustainability team continues to be focused on advancing the campus-wide Pitt Sustainability Plan, tracking measurable progress on the Plan’s 61 goals across stewardship, exploration, community, and culture.

As a result, we’re celebrating achievements big and small that occurred from July 2019 through June 2020 (some despite and due to the global Covid-19 pandemic); these include:


  • Carbon Neutrality Committed to carbon neutrality on the Pittsburgh campus by 2037.
  • Data Transparency Launched a new Pitt Sustainability Dashboard, which provides an interactive view of progress on select Pitt Sustainability Plan goals, including greenhouse gas emissions, compostables, food recovery, and Real Food Challenge achievements!
  • Building Energy Use – Achieved lowest total energy use per square foot since data tracking began in 2008 (and 22% reduction in campus energy use since 2015, which keeps us on track to meet our Pittsburgh 2030 District goal to reduce energy use per square foot 50% by 2030.
  • Water Use Continued emphasis on water use sustained its downward trend, with total consumption down 10% since FY 2017, continuing to progress toward the Pittsburgh 2030 District goal to reduce water use per square foot 50% by 2030.
  • Renewable Energy Portfolio Expansion – 18% of the University’s energy originated from renewable energy sources in FY 2020. A new commitment to a future local, solar development will combine with planned, local, low-impact hydropower use, projecting at least 36.5% of the Pittsburgh campus’ electricity will be supplied by renewables by 2024, keeping the University on track to reach its strategic goal of 50% of electricity produced or procured from renewable sources by 2030.
  • Landscape & Ecology Our first ever Bee Campus USA designation, only the 5th bestowed on a Pennsylvania college or university
  • Green Building Certifications – Recognized for sustainable building design and construction with attainment of LEED building certifications at both Clapp Hall and the Livingston Alexander House Residence Hall at Pitt Bradford, totaling 14 owned and operated LEED certified buildings.
  • Transportation & Mobility

Materials & Resources

  • Pitt Green Events – Facilitated 153 events with composting in, including 48 Pitt Green and/or zero waste events during the 2019 Welcome Week alone, for nearly 14,000 students, family members, faculty, and staff.  2019 Welcome Week events collectively diverted over 9 tons of waste from the landfill.  For comparison, 10 events were Green Certified and/or zero waste during the 2018 Welcome Week.
  • Compost Diverted 176 tons of compostables from campus in FY 2020, reaching a new 12-month high.
  • Clutter for a Cause – Held 3 Clutter for a Cause community collections in Oakland in partnership with Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, reclaiming for reuse approximately 1,500 pounds of furniture, kitchen items, books, textiles and more!
  • Textiles – Launched a textile recycling collection program at 20 campus locations to collect and recycle used textiles, diverting 7,866 textiles into the circular economy (equivalent to the amount of textiles 96 Americans throw away annually)
  • Green Cleaning Procurement – Publicly bid and signed custodial contract with Grainger that integrates waste and packaging reduction goals in alignment with Pitt’s Sustainability Plan, along with campus-wide green cleaning product verification and procurement.

Food Systems

Equity & Access

  • Basic Needs – Campus Basic Needs Committee established in order to understand, communicate, and advocate for students’ basic needs and create resources to ensure student success
  • Meal Scholarships – Meal Scholarship Program established to create additional avenue for students to receive short term emergency food assistance and connections to medium-term solutions (Student Affairs, OAFA, and Panther Central)
  • Zero Waste Period – Pitt Planned Parenthood and the Student Office of Sustainability (SOOS) purchased and distributed 400 reusable menstrual cups and 46 menstrual pads, with additional inserts. In addition to avoiding waste, the project tackles menstrual equity and access to basic needs, including hygiene products on campus and around the world. Ten dispensers providing free, single use period products were installed across campus.

Community & Culture


Keep an eye out for these newly announced 2020-21 offerings also!

    • Healthy Ride @ Pitt –  Unlimited 30-minute Healthy Ride bike share rides extended to all Pitt students, faculty, and staff for academic year 2020-21.
    • Real College Survey – To gain a better understanding of student basic needs insecurities, the University will be deploying the Real College Survey deployed in Fall 2020.
    • Swipe Out Hunger – Campus-wide meal swipe donation drive to combat student hunger.