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

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
PRE-2: Points of Distinction

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

Name of the institution’s featured sustainability program, initiative, or accomplishment:
Lowest Total Energy Use per Square Foot in Fiscal Year 2020

A brief description of the institution’s featured program, initiative, or accomplishment:

Though they were publicized in the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan, the University of Pittsburgh has been committed to international 2030 Challenge goals related to energy since 2014. Specifically, the goal is to achieve 50% reduction in energy use intensity (EUI, energy consumption in kBTU per square foot) by 2030 (below national baselines) -- and establish design standards and operational practices to achieve this.

In Fiscal Year 2020, the University reached its lowest total energy use per square foot since data tracking began in 2008 (and is on track to meet the 2030 goal of 50% reduction). To achieve these reductions, Pitt’s Facilities Management initiated and completed energy reduction measures across campus buildings, resulting in a 22% reduction since 2015. Key initiatives included Facilities Management’s “Relamping for Sustainability” program completed in 12 building (anticipating savings of over $206,000 per year with additional LED lighting upgrades over time) and the use of the University’s Fault Detection and Diagnostics Analytics system with documented energy savings of over $112,000 per year.

The University has sustained a downward trend in energy use intensity since 2014. Since 2016, the University has met or bettered its annual incremental reduction targets that keep it on track to reach the ultimate 2030 Challenge goal of 50% reduction below baselines by 2030.

The University of Pittsburgh's 2017 Energy Master Plan and Energy Conservation Plan identified Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) across the University, which began shortly thereafter and continue on. Thus, in addition to its normal annual energy and water conservation and efficiency projects, the University has contracted with The Efficiency Network (TEN) to advance more energy and water upgrades since 2018. TEN has audited over 15 campus buildings to-date -- and has been advancing energy efficiency upgrades across 25 buildings since 2018, with more buildings in the queue. This effort includes systems, equipment, and appliance upgrades.

As part of the in-development Pitt Climate Action Plan, additional efficiency opportunities are being identified and deployed campus-wide – in pursuit of both carbon neutrality by 2037 and 50% reduction in energy use intensity (EUI, energy consumption in kBTU per square foot) by 2030 (below national baselines).

Public Announcement by Chancellor Gallagher at the Fall 2020 Board of Trustees Meeting (1:43:15): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vg8bsTbdZs

Which of the following impact areas does the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment most closely relate to?:

Website URL where more information about the accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
OP-5: Building Energy Efficiency

A photograph or document associated with the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment:
Name of a second highlighted sustainability program/initiative/accomplishment:
Fall 2021 New Anti-Black Racism Course (for all First Year Students, plus Public Curriculum)

A brief description of the second program/initiative/accomplishment:

In Fall 2020, the University of Pittsburgh automatically enrolled all first-year students in a new, 1 credit class, "Anti-Black Racism: History, Ideology, and Resistance" to help build a culture of social inclusion and anti-racism. Because the University had so much interest in the course from employees and the public, all course materials are now available for free online and open to the public.

In the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and many others in recent months, activists and scholars in the United States have taken to the streets, the workplace, and classrooms to decry anti-Black racism and call attention to the ongoing devaluation of Black lives in the U.S. and globally. The wave of uprisings that have swept the nation and globe represent part of a long struggle of anti-racist organizing—one that can be traced back hundreds of years. This multidisciplinary course seeks to provide a broad overview of this rich and dynamic history. Built around the expertise of Pitt faculty and Pittsburgh area activists, this course will introduce students to the established tradition of scholarship focused on the Black experience and Black cultural expression. It also seeks to examine the development, spread, and articulations of anti-Black racism in the United States and around the world. The course will grapple with three key areas of inquiry: the roots, ideology, and resistance to anti-Black racism. Each unit will be focused through readings, lectures and discussions. First, we will explore the roots of anti-Black racism in the United States, drawing connections to African history, the history of slavery, and the Transatlantic Slave trade. Second, the course will grapple with the ideology of anti-Black racism—the ideas that undergird the creation of racial hierarchies, often shaped by pseudo-science and eugenics. Third, the course will highlight the theme of resistance, paying close attention to the range of political strategies and tactics Black activists and their allies have employed in their effort to obtain a more just and equal society here and internationally. Significantly, the course employs an intersectional analysis—taking into account how race is interwoven into other categories including ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality and nationality. We will use a variety of scholarly disciplines spanning the Humanities, Social Sciences, the Arts, Science and Public Health to explore these themes to help students understand how anti-Black racism functions in U.S. society.


After meaningfully engaging with the content in this course, students should be able to:

• Describe and explain key ideas and concepts concerning the social construction of race and ethnicity
• Identify historical and current structures of power, privilege, and inequality that are rooted in Anti-Black racism
• Explain how anti-Black racism acts individually, interpersonally, institutionally, and structurally
• Identify and describe the contribution of scholars and experts on anti-Black racism at Pitt and in the larger community
• Articulate and critically examine personal beliefs and opinions about race, antiracism and antiblackness and describe the weight these beliefs and opinions carry
• Explain how institutions and policies contribute to and enable Anti-Black racism
• Identify some of the many existing organizations that provide anti-racism programming and opportunities

Students will leave the course with introductory knowledge to participate more knowledgeably in discussions of race, inequality, and other aspects of social difference.

Students will leave the course with an introduction to the Black radical tradition, resistance to Anti-Black racism, and strategies to be anti-racist in everyday life

We hope that this course will encourage students to continue taking other courses related to anti-Black racism and the Black experience. The course should also provide pathways for students interested in transforming their own role in confronting anti-Black racism.


Week 1: Introduction to Course; Race as a construct/concept/Critical race theory
Week 2: Pre-colonial African History and Misconceptions of Africa
Week 3: Era of Enslavement
Week 4: Reconstruction & Post-reconstruction Violence and Migration
Week 5: COINTELPRO - Pittsburgh
Week 6: Contemporary Black Liberation Movements
Week 7: Black Study Week (CAAPP)
Week 8: Health Disparities
Week 9: Black Internationalism and Anti-Racism
Week 10: Racial Capitalism/Disinvestment in Black Communities/Housing
Week 11: Formal Schooling and Anti-Blackness
Week 12: Migration, Globalization, and Anti-Black Racism
Week 13: How to be Anti-Racist
Week 14: Student Choice of 1) Afro-Futurism, 2) Heritage as Hate: Racism and Sporting Traditions, and/or 3) Race and Technology

Which impact areas does the second program/initiative/accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Campus Engagement
Diversity & Affordability

Website URL where more information about the second program/initiative/accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the second program/initiative/accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
PA-5: Divesrity and Equity Coordination

A photograph or document associated with the second program/initiative/accomplishment:
Name of a third highlighted program/initiative/accomplishment:
Cool Food Pledge & Tracking: Cutting Food-related GHG Emissions 25% by 2030

A brief description of the third program/initiative/accomplishment:

The University of Pittsburgh strives to build food systems that support a healthy body and a healthy planet, strengthen local communities, and minimize waste. The 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan lays out several Food Systems goals, including “Serve meals that put plants at the center of the plate by decreasing the amount of animal-derived products sold by 25% by 2025 (from 2017 baseline).”

A global initiative led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), signing the Cool Food Pledge re-committed Pitt to cutting food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030 (a level of ambition in line with achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.) The Pledge complements existing ambitions to reduce emissions from meals served in dining services and aligns those efforts with international climate goals.

As a result, Pitt has been working with WRI since 2019 to track its Cool Food performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the 30,000 meals served every day on campus.

The University’s 2017 Cool Food baseline showed that total food-related greenhouse gas impacts are 39,780 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). As our goal is to reduce those emissions by 25% (or by 9,495 tons CO2e) – equivalent to taking roughly 2,000 cars off the road.
Pitt’s Dining Services confidentially reports food purchase amounts to WRI by weight each year, including data on all animal-based foods and plant proteins. WRI then determines the climate impact of food using the Cool Food Calculator (based upon a peer reviewed methodology).

Historic University data (pre-commitment to the Cool Food Pledge) shows a slow, business-as-usual increase in food-related emissions, primarily from red meat and dairy purchases. While the University has also received a 2019 Cool Food report from WRI, that information is not representative, as it was in the last year of the previous Pitt Dining contract.
To combat that trend and institutionalize the commitment, the Cool Food Pledge is included in the new 10-year foodservice contract for “Pitt Eats” with Compass Group that started in July 2020. Pitt Eats sustainability staff, managers, and chefs are actively pursuing changes to traditional menus for plant-forward options across the campus. Changes have been made to menus, portions, promotions, and menu labels following behavioral science best practices promoted by Cool Food. Delicious plant-based options are available at all dining locations, and the campus’s two residential dining facilities feature plant-based dining stations and regular plant-based menu promotions. Additional Pitt Eats “Cool Food” strategies include:
• Increase the variety of plant-rich dishes offered
• Increase the relative number of plant-rich dishes offered compared to meat-based dishes
• Allow diners to add meat to a plant-rich dish for an extra surcharge
• Introduce plant-rich alternatives to popular meat-based dishes
• Introduce one plant-rich day per week, when all dishes served are plant rich only
• Encourage front-of-house staff (e.g., waiters & hosts) to try plant-rich dishes themselves
• Provide front-of house staff (e.g., waiter & hosts) with talking points to promote plant-rich dishes to diners

Original University of Pittsburgh Cool Food Pledge commitment announcement: https://www.pittwire.pitt.edu/news/pitt-commits-global-pledge-supports-cutting-greenhouse-gas-emissions

Pitt Eats’ Cool Food Pledge information: https://dineoncampus.com/pitt/procurement

WRI’s Cool Food Pledge website: https://coolfood.org/pledge/

Which impact areas does the third program/initiative/accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Campus Engagement
Air & Climate
Food & Dining

Website URL where more information about the third program/initiative/accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the third program/initiative/accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
OP-7: Food and Beverage Purchasing

A photograph or document associated with the third program/initiative/accomplishment:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.