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Event Recap: Sustainability in the Steel City

Event Recap: Sustainability in the Steel City

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On Thursday, April 13, ASP hosted “Sustainability in the Steel City: Exploring Pittsburgh’s Climate Wins” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as part of its National Climate Security Tour. Moderated by ASP Director of Climate Security Programs, panelists included LtGen John Castellaw, ASP Consensus for American Security, Dr. Aurora Sharrard, Executive Director of Sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh, and Mr. Grant Ervin, Director of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and Innovation Practices at S&B USA.

The conversation explored Pittsburgh’s post-World War II history and the region’s evolution from the “Steel City” to being a national leader in forward thinking climate planning. Mr. Ervin and Dr. Sharrard, both longstanding subject matter experts involved in Pittsburgh’s climate evolution, recalled that it was crucial to have civil, government, and private industry understanding that the climate challenges and negative externalities from the fossil fuel and heavy industries were not only detrimental to Pittsburgh’s citizens, but were also impeding the economic development of the city.

LtGen Castellaw then provided insight into how perceptions about climate have evolved in the defense community, highlighting climate as both a threat multiplier and the need to “free us from the tyranny of oil.” LtGen Castellaw provided personal details about his experiences while in uniform, including the impacts on partner nations, military readiness, and domestic infrastructure, while also recognizing the military’s role as the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter.

Panelists further highlighted the importance of recent federal legislation, like the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in expediting climate-friendly policies and programs, as well as challenges and opportunities for public-private partnerships. The conversation also explored Pittsburgh’s many climate wins, including the International 2030 Challenge, Pittsburgh’s 2030 District, the Strategic Plan for Equitable Climate Action, and the Marshall Plan for Middle America that can serve as an example for other cities and defense & security stakeholders for enhancing building performance, environmental quality, and infrastructure sustainability.