The university’s culture of sustainability is driven not only through individual efforts and grassroots support, but also through institutional commitments and the guidance of leaders who are committed to the cause.
This commitment was recognized with a prestigious award: Scott Bernotas, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Facility Management, was named 2020 E + E 100 by Environment + Energy Leader.
The annual list of the publication recognizes the top 100 global professionals who develop best practices and improve environmental and energy management.
Bernotas oversees utility infrastructure and more than 130 buildings on the University of Pittsburgh’s 145-acre main campus to support Pitt’s community of more than 42,000 faculties, staff and students.
The E + E 100 is designed to inspire by highlighting leaders and innovators who are taking steps not only to improve their organization’s bottom line, but also to drive progress toward a more sustainable world for future generations.
With the leadership and support of Bernotas, Pitt has evolved into a university model of sustainability and energy.
Since arriving in Pitt in 2015, Bernotas has been committed to transforming Pitt’s historic facilities into greener spaces.
His team’s results have a huge impact on the campus.
Sustainability in many forms
The Pittsburgh campus has seen the lowest energy consumption per square foot since data tracking began in 2008. The campus has achieved a 22% reduction in on-campus energy use since 2015, bringing the university closer to its Pittsburgh District 2030 goal of reducing energy use per square foot by 50% by 2030.
Pitt also remains on track to meet its own commitment to be carbon neutral by 2037 and the milestones of the Pitt Sustainability Plan 2018 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 (compared to 2008) while maintaining at least 50% to produce or procure its electricity from renewable sources.
Bernotas has launched a number of innovative energy saving initiatives, including an LED lighting upgrade program that has saved more than $ 200,000 annually in 12 buildings, and fault detection and diagnostic analysis system evaluations leading to energy savings of more than $ 112,000 a year.
His team has also implemented solutions to reduce water usage towards Pitt’s goal of reducing water usage per square foot by 50% by 2030. Water consumption on campus has decreased by 13.9% since 2015.
In fiscal 2020, Bernotas led his team in analyzing actual and expected water usage, identifying nine water leaks that Pitt saved over $ 173,000 a month to repair. It also fixed steam leaks and saved $ 14,000 a month.
Further savings are in preparation – an initiative to renovate bathrooms in Litchfield Towers is expected to save over $ 170,000 annually by installing new water-saving fittings.
Sustainability is at the fore in all of the university’s construction projects. To date, 14 have been LEED certified, and nine more are under development. Sustainability is built into the plan for construction and renovation projects across campus, including renovations at the Graduate School of Public Health, Benedum Hall, Clapp Hall and Salk Halls, as well as innovative property renovations with sustainable landscaping, green spaces and walking and biking trails, including the Bigelow Block Transformation and the Upper Slope Infrastructure Project along University Drive.
Working on bold solutions to expand the university’s renewable energy portfolio, Bernotas increased Pitt’s renewable energy share to over 23% in 2019 – more than five times its 2014 level. New hydropower and solar purchase contracts have added Pitt to the right way to meet its target of producing or getting 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. With these two contributions alone, renewables will make up at least 36% of the power mix on the Pittsburgh campus by 2024.
This commitment to clean electricity has now qualified the university as a US EPA Green Power Partner. Pitt is among the top 30 Green Power users of EPA Green Power Partners at colleges and universities in both 2019 and 2020.
The university’s commitment does not end at the edge of the campus. Pitt was recently awarded a grant from the Second Nature Climate Solutions Acceleration Fund to support energy modeling for Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood through a collaborative Oakland Energy Master Plan. Pitt recently reaffirmed its own commitment to reducing carbon emissions and its support for renewed national commitment as one of more than 1,500 signatories to the Dec 12 “We’re Still In” Declaration on Climate Action.
“Pitt defines sustainability as a balance between equity, the environment and the economy so that present and future generations can thrive,” said Aurora Sharrard, director of sustainability at the university. “Scott has accepted this commitment to the future of the university with enthusiasm. Facility management is the key to our sustainability gains. His vision and leadership have fueled a number of initiatives that are producing results today and making the university increasingly sustainable. “
Marcus Krembs, Director of Sustainability at Enel North America, is also one of the leading representatives of the 2020 E + E 100. Enel, a multinational energy company based in Rome, is one of the founding partners of the Pitt Center for Sustainable Business.