U.S. Steel Tower LEED Silver Certification a Major Achievement in Operations + Maintenance
Winthrop Management and evolveEA are pleased to announce that the U.S. Steel Tower, the 64-floor skyscraper in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, has earned LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M): Existing Buildings Silver Certification making it the second-largest LEED for O+M: Existing Buildings V4 office building in the world. The LEED for O+M: Existing Buildings rating system is unique compared to other versions of LEED because it is concerned with how existing buildings actually perform. The certification requires verified performance data that meets targets in the areas of Location and Transportation, Site Management, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality in order to be certified.
“This is a tremendous honor and a true collaborative effort with our partners, building tenants, and owners,” said Thomas J. Harrington, General Manager of the U.S. Steel Tower. “To earn this designation for a building designed when energy was inexpensive and energy efficiency not a first priority is a notable accomplishment. We salute all our tenants who have supported our efforts, particularly UPMC, whose commitment to sustainability in multiple floor renovations has earned several Silver and Gold LEED certifications.”
Even after 50 years, the Tower is the nation’s seventh-largest high-rise office building and was designed when resource efficiency was not an expectation. Winthrop Management is continually improving the building operations, and this achievement was preceded by a BOMA 360 certification and three consecutive years of Energy Star certification (2016 – 2018) resulting from Winthrop’s leadership. UPMC’s LEED Silver and Gold certifications of nearly half of the building’s leasable square footage, over one million square feet, has also been instrumental in setting the tone for updating building standards and leveraging building improvements.
“LEED for O+M: Existing Buildings certification is the culmination of over ten years of various efforts, beginning with UPMC’s tenant certifications, then the Owner’s building systems improvements, then the engagement of the building tenants through a unique Tenant Sustainability Committee,” said Marc Mondor, AIA, Principal with evolveEA, the building’s and UPMC’s sustainability consultant. “We’re especially proud of this Committee, as Winthrop and the tenants rely upon it as a mechanism for ongoing awareness, engagement and improvement for the building and its users.”
Angelica Ciranni, Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Green Building Alliance adds, “As a founding partner of the Pittsburgh 2030 District, the U.S. Steel Tower has continually advanced market standards for occupant health. Their performance-based investments across the spectrum of sustainable innovations present a national model for building renovations, driving Pittsburgh toward 50% reductions in energy, water, and transportation emissions.”
With the help of evolveEA, Winthrop Management’s LEED Silver O+M certification included:
- Location & Transportation: Support for alternative modes of transportation, including secure bicycle parking, electric vehicle charging stations, and ride share matching. Approximately 60% of the employees that work at the USS Tower commute using alternative modes of transportation.
- Sustainable Sites: Site management practices that reduce harmful chemical use, energy waste, water waste, air pollution, solid waste, and chemical runoff.
- Water Efficiency: Fixture and fitting upgrades, water sub-metering, increased cooling tower water cycles, and drip irrigation for the landscape. The USS Tower reduced building water consumption by 27% from 2016 to 2018.
- Energy & Atmosphere: Installation of highly efficient LEDs in the lobby and garage, installation of Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), HVAC upgrades, and new energy-efficient elevator system, and existing building commissioning, resulting in Energy Star certification from 2016 to present.
- Materials & Resources: The building purchased sustainable products and increased the building’s recycling rate. Additionally, the sustainable purchasing and recycling practices associated with the four UPMC floors that are currently pursuing LEED for Commercial Interiors, contributed significantly in this category.
- Indoor Environmental Quality: Green cleaning practices, products, and equipment that improve human health, reduce impact on the environment, and provide a clean workspace for all tenants. Winthrop also performed a custodial effectiveness assessment, implements enhanced indoor air quality strategies, and practices green integrated pest management.
The LEED rating system is developed and administered by the US Green Building Council (USBGC), founded in 1993. “The U.S. Steel Tower’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, of the USGBC. “LEED was created to make the world a better place and revolutionize the built environment by providing everyone with healthy, green and high performing buildings. This project serves as a prime example of how the work of innovative teams can use local solutions to make a global impact on the environment.”
The O+M: Existing Buildings LEED Certification requires projects to recertify every five years (or as frequently as every year). This approach encourages cyclical improvements to the building’s environmental footprint, which Winthrop Management and their partners are well-positioned to take on for the long term. Their Tenant Sustainability Committee meets regularly, and ongoing engagement in the Pittsburgh 2030 District will continue to push the building’s performance toward increasingly ambitious targets for energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality, and low-impact transportation.