U.S. Steel Tower Achieves LEED Building Operations, Maintenance Certification

The 64-floor skyscraper in downtown Pittsburgh is now the second-largest LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings V4 office building in the world.

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.

The iconic U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh. (Photo: Richard Stephen Haynes)

“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 added, “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.”

Practices deployed by U.S. Steel Tower to achieve LEED Silver O+M certification include:

  • Location & Transportation: Support for alternative modes of transportation, including secure bicycle parking, electric vehicle charging stations, and ride share matching. Approximately 60% of tower employees 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.
  • 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
  • Materials & Resources: Adoption of sustainable purchasing and recycling practices
  • 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.

Now a national model for building renovations, the U.S. Steel Tower is helping to drive forward the City of Pittsburgh’s goal of 50% reductions in energy, water, and transportation emissions by 2030.