Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
2.00 / 2.00 Aurora Sharrard
Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level:

The University of Pittsburgh works through its Office of Community and Governmental Relations (CGR) to advocate for sustainability projects by supporting legislation, ordinances, and direct partnerships with the City of Pittsburgh that benefit the city as well as the University. CGR advances a two-way flow of information between the University of Pittsburgh and government representatives at the city, county, state, and federal levels of government – and acts as the primary liaison between Pitt and local government offices for the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Pitt Sustainability staff collaborate regularly with CGR staff on governmental relations at all scales and CGR staff sit on various Pitt Sustainability governing bodies (including the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability and the Campus Tree Advisory Committee), which help them advocate for sustainability in local policy.

The University publicly supports and directly engages with 2 City of Pittsburgh sustainability programs that help inform local public policy - the greenhouse gas emissions reduction plans and policies laid out in the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0 and annual compliance with and leadership support of the City’s Building Benchmarking Ordinance.

Pitt employees engage regularly with several City of Pittsburgh committees and commissions that produce local polices on and/or relating to sustainability such as;
• City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission (Member = Associate Dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs)
• Clean Pittsburgh Commission (Member = Pitt Sustainability Coordinator)
• Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (Board Secretary = Adjunct Professor at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; Board Member = Pitt Professor of Business Administration, Psychology, Public and International Affairs)

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level:

The University of Pittsburgh engages in sustainability-focused and related public policy advocacy, support, and partnership at the regional and state level in a variety of ways, all of which could not be captured below; select examples.

REGIONAL COMMISSIONS - Pitt employees sit on several regional committees and commissions focused on and/or relating to creating sustainability policies. Pitt’s Director of Sustainability services on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), which is the regional planning agency serving the 10-county Southwestern Pennsylvania region. SPC directs the use of state and federal transportation and economic development funds allocated to the region (~$35 billion through 2045) and helps counties, cities, municipalities, and townships access state and federal transportation funds.

As a result, Pitt directly advocated for the inclusion of sustainability into the Pittsburgh region’s official long-range transportation plan, “SmartMoves for a Changing Region,” which SPC adopted in June 2019. The SmartMoves plan includes >$35 billion for regional transportation priorities over 25 years – and serves as a guiding policy document for the region, prioritizing programs and projects that advance the Regional Vision of an integrated transportation system that provides mobility for all, enables resilient communities, and supports a globally competitive economy. https://www.spcregion.org/programs-services/transportation/smartmoves-long-range-plan-transportation-improvement-program

MARSHALL PLAN FOR MIDDLE AMERICA (MP4MA): MP4MA is a policy document that creates a regional strategy for tackling the concurrent challenges of climate change, social and environmental injustice, and the economic crisis. The primary author of this document is the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Sustainable Business. The policy items outlined are being deployed and advocated for by Pitt in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh and Mayor William Peduto, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Steel Valley Authority, the Heartland Capital Strategies Network, and Reimagine Appalachia. This MP4MA coalition is advocating for and working to build a regional, multisector coalition of stakeholders to drive investment in infrastructure and energy diversification that will catalyze more equitable economic recovery while laying a foundation for the Ohio Valley to be a global leader in cleaner energy resources and circular economy practices. MP4MA was created (in part) to inform regional, state, and national policy for driving national investment in infrastructure and energy diversification. (local, state, and national level) https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/pitt-csb-marshall-plan-4-middle-america/

CONNECT: The University of Pittsburgh facilitates the regional Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) and advocates for collective change on behalf of the municipal governments in Allegheny County’s urban core. Through CONNECT, Pitt brings together the local municipal officials and governments surrounding the City of Pittsburgh together to identify, advocate for, and create common regional public-policy challenges and solutions.

CONNECT has two sustainability-related Working Groups, which are supported by Pitt employees and students:
1) Economic & Environmental Development Working Group and
2) Infrastructure & Utilities Coordination Working Group.

CONNECT engages in policy areas that members of these Working Groups identify as most pressing.
Starting in 2020, Pitt’s CONNECT team joined with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and ICLEI to complete a Regional GHG Inventory and Climate Action Plan that will help all local and regional members reach their economic and environmental sustainability goals.

CONNECT is also currently working with utility companies on behalf of its governmental members to compile their emissions and water data (which is informing future policy creation), while advocating for more regional solutions for energy efficiency and renewable energy procurement both regionally and statewide.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level:

AMERICA IS STILL IN – In December 2020, Pitt joined more than 1,500 signatories (including 123 universities) in signing the “America is Still In” declaration on climate action, released on December 12, 2020, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement. In doing so, Pitt reaffirmed its own commitment to carbon reduction (including carbon neutrality by 2037) and voiced its support for a renewed national commitment for climate action. Learn more: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/pitt-signs-all-in-national-declaration-on-climate-action-clean-recovery

Pitt’s Chancellor wrote a letter in response to George Floyd’s wrongful death advocating for better anti-racist practices. The University then helped organize virtual townhalls for community members to convene virtually to share ideas, experiences, and expertise related to eliminating racism and injustice near and far. (local, state, and national level)
Full statement: https://www.chancellor.pitt.edu/spotlight/statement-racial-injustice-and-death-george-floyd
Townhalls: https://www.diversity.pitt.edu/events/town-hall-series

Other specific Pitt initiatives include continued national advocacy and support for increasing federal CAFÉ fuel efficiency standards, building performance standards and verification, and more.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level:

The University of Pittsburgh engages in sustainability-focused and related public policy advocacy, support, and partnership at the international level in a variety of means highlighted below.

TRANSATLANTIC PERSPECTIVES ON ENERGY AND CITIES: As part of the University of Pittsburgh’s European Studies Center’s (ESC) Transatlantic Perspectives on Energy and Cities (TPEC) effort, Pitt hosted a Spring 2019 workshop on Cap and Trade in the European Union and U.S., which produced international cap and trade policy recommendations In addition, Pitt’s ESC’s TPEC efforts have developed conferences and workshops at and with Newcastle University (in the United Kingdom) about unconventional gas extraction, which have featured both scholars and policymakers/practitioners to influence public policy creation on the topic.
TPEC: https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/esc/about/funded-programs-and-grants/tpec
TPEC Spring 2019 Cap and Trade Policy Workshop: https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/esc/system/files/resources/images/CapTradePDSAgenda.pdf
TPEC Energy Stream 2 Activities: https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/esc/about/funded-programs-and-grants/tpec/cities/stream-two-activities

INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS: In response to President Trump’s attempts to tighten restrictions on travel, H1B visas, and advanced vetting (international and national level) in August 2019, Pitt’s Chancellor responded with a letter of support for foreign scholars and called for international collaboration

UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES (UCIS) – UCIS leads Pitt’s comprehensive international engagement process by engaging both internal and external stakeholders (including international institutional partners, alumni, community leaders, and prospective students). Given global concerns, sustainability is at the heart and related to several of UCIS’s engagements (several of which are related to public policy), with select highlights below.

Pitt’s Global Studies Center (GSC) promotes critical thinking and practical engagement with the world through the interdisciplinary study of globalization- fostering innovative research and collaborations with community partners locally and around the world, that inform policy. Current research thrusts (which inform public policy engagement) include: Global Loss in the Anthropocene; Global Migrations; Cities in Transformation (with focus on culture, economics, sustainability, and health); and Global Health.

Pitt’s European Studies Center (ESC) coordinates and develops scholarship, teaching, and community events related to Europe and the European Union. The ESC supports the development of new conferences with international participants and provides an intellectual community that help inform and advocate for policy changes (including an emphasis on sustainability-focused and related public policy, given the significant sustainability efforts in Europe).
UCIS: https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/main/resources-global-engagement
Pitt GSC: https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/global
Pitt ESC: https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/esc

A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

January 6, 2021 - Statement Following Day of Violence at U.S. Capitol
Chancellor Gallagher denounces acts of sedition and violence at the U.S. Capitol Building.

November 4, 2020 - The Wait for Results
Chancellor Gallagher addresses the Pitt community as the nation waits to learn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

October 29, 2018 - Tree of Life Tragedy: Where We Go From Here
Chancellor Gallagher writes at a time of enormous grief for the Pittsburgh community.

A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability advocacy efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

PITT SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL ENGAGEMENT: The University of Pittsburgh became a founding university member of U.S. Sustainable Development Solutions Network in 2018, working with institutions nationally and internationally on achieving the global sustainable development goals (SDGs), which will require many policy collaborations.

In a 2019 forum during the 74th United Nations General Assembly, University of Pittsburgh Provost Ann Cudd was on an SDG-focused panel with Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and leaders from Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, and the Pittsburgh Foundation. The panel highlighted regional accomplishments to advance the SDGs for a more peaceful, prosperous planet with just and inclusive societies to showcase the best of American leadership and innovation to achieve the SDGs.
Learn more: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/pittsburgh-sdg-leader-un-74th-assembly/

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