Pittsburgh, PA

Biophilic Cities Member since

Pittsburgh has long been known for its steel production, and today some of that rich industrial history is being repurposed into new forms of urban nature. The city has constructed riverfront trails and green space, including the new South Shore Riverfront Park, and is re-energizing former industrial spaces with all manner of innovative uses, among them gardening, farming and art installations.  From reimagining its industrial past to becoming the newest member of the Biophilic Cities Network, Pittsburgh is connecting residents with nature in unique ways. The city’s main biophilic endeavors have focused on improving both water and air quality while also increasing residents’ engagement with the natural world. Their strategy focuses on creating partnerships to enhance the city’s biodiversity, increase tree canopy, install green infrastructure, daylight streams, plan for EcoInnovation Districts, and work with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network to develop a biodiversity framework tool. Other initiative include replacing city streetlights to reduce light pollution and enhance the night sky, as well as increasing ecological literacy.  Pittsburg also features many green buildings, such as the Frick Environmental Center, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and the Phipps Conservatory’s Center for Sustainable Landscapes.

As a member of the Biophilic Cities Network, Pittsburgh plans to measure success through tree canopy coverage change over time, extent of biodiversity, participation in monthly Biophilia Meetups, percent of city budget devoted to nature conservation, restoration, and education among other indicators. At Pittsburgh’s induction into the global Biophilic Cities Network on September 16, 2016, Mayor Bill Peduto emphasized,  “Being part of the Biophilic Cities Network will help us realize the goals in our own 2030 plan. It will help us to coordinate the efforts of all of the great organizations that work in the City of Pittsburgh on a daily basis…It will do what David Lawrence set out to do in the 1940s, which was to make Pittsburgh a shining example of how a post industrial city can take care of its air, water, but most importantly take care of its people.”

  • “Our commitment to clean water is not just to build bigger pipes but to restore streams to our valleys. We will no longer use pesticides, so our workers will be weeding by hand. We expected push back but our workers were carrying 40-gallon jugs of poison on their backs.There has been no push back, because they understand.” - Bill Peduto, Mayor
  • “When we first heard about the biophilic cities movement, we said ‘This is a natural for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is already a great natural place to be.’ With the mayor’s vision of what he wants the city to become…we are really excited that the city has taken this initiative.” - Richard V. Piacentini, Executive Director of Phipps
  • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy works to improve the quality of life for the people of Pittsburgh by restoring the park system to excellence in partnership with government and the community. Projects and programs are conducted with respect for the environment, historic design, and the needs of our diverse region.
    • Urban EcoStewards adopt and care for areas in the parks and in their communities. With training and support from organizations throughout Pittsburgh, Urban EcoSteward volunteers adopt and care for sites in parks or in their communities. These volunteers visit their adopted sites as often as they’re able throughout the year to remove invasive plants, care for trees, clear trash, and much more.
  • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a green oasis in the middle of Pittsburgh’s vibrant Oakland neighborhood.
    • Center for Sustainable Landscapes is an educational center at the Phipps Conservatory constructed on a former brownfields site to demonstrate the highest green building practices.  The building generates all needed energy and treats all sanitary and storm water onsite. It is the first and only building to meet four of the highest green certifications: the Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, WELL Building Platinum, and Four-Stars Sustainable SITES.
  • Tree Pittsburgh is an environmental non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the City’s vitality by restoring and protecting the urban forest through tree maintenance, planting, education and advocacy. Our vision is to be a leader in creating a healthy, attractive and safe urban forest by inspiring and engaging citizens to plant, maintain and protect trees. Trees provide substantial environmental, social and economic benefits that greatly enhance our quality of life.
  • Bike Pittsburgh: With a focus on Advocacy, Education, and Community, Bike Pittsburgh is transforming Pittsburgh streets and communities into vibrant, healthy places by making them safe and accessible for people to bike and walk.
  • Venture Outdoors promotes outdoor recreation in Southwestern Pennsylvania. They believe everyone deserves the chance to experience how incredibly fun the outdoors can be, so they provide the gear, guidance and inspiration to make outdoor recreation part of people’s lives.
  • Three Rivers Heritage Trail: 24 miles of non-linear trails developed and maintained by nonprofit Friends of the Riverfront, estimated $8.3 million total annual economic impact with over 800,000 visitors annually
  • Great Allegheny Passage: 150 biking and hiking rail trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, where it meets the C&O Canal Towpath to Washington DC
  • South Side Riverfront Trail:  5 mile trail from South Shore Riverfront Park with public boat and canoe launch
  • David L. Lawrence Convention Center: convention center has been awarded LEED Gold and Platinum awards
  • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
  • Center for Sustainable Landscapes: educational center at the Phipps Conservatory constructed on a former brownfields site to demonstrate the highest green building practices.  Generates all needed energy and treats all sanitary and storm water onsite
  • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy: has PPP with city to help restore and manage 4 regional parks
    • Urban EcoStewards: program to train volunteers to maintain natural areas
    • Partner orgs: Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, Allegheny CleanWays, Tree Pittsburgh, Allegheny Land Trust
  • Tree Pittsburgh: urban forestry non-profit created in 2006, trains volunteer tree tenders
  • Bike Pittsburgh: advocacy, community engagement, and education around non-motorized transport
  • Venture Outdoors: promotes outdoor recreation in Southwestern Pennsylvania


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