While the EIC is not a known entity yet—most of the community leaders walking in for the start of the conference had never been there—it will be soon.

Presenting to the high-profile p4 conference on the second day, Robert Meeder told the community leaders in attendance that “132 companies have infused their technology and process in state of art everything, including plug and play, from parking lot to gardens to shops to basement all designed for workforce development” and learning the STEM behind the application.

The building houses a basketball court-sized corner room with floor to ceiling windows that offer dramatic views of the city overlooking downtown on one end and the Strip District on the other.

The first event staged there was Shaping Davos, a morning-long session live-streamed to Davos, Switzerland showcasing local change makers on how Pittsburgh became one of the most innovative cities in the world.

The second event was the Q Ball, the cutting-edge annual fundraiser from Quantum Theatre, which transformed the industrial chic room into a Parisian ballroom replete with silk aerialists and body-painted dancers and hundreds of attendees, many in colorful and creative costumes.

At the Q Ball. Photo by TC Carlisle

At the Q Ball. Photo by TC for NEXTpittsburgh

And the third—the p4 conference—brought together those in the community who can make the kind of changes required of Pittsburgh in the future to make it not only sustainable, but a model of sustainability for the world.

All three events represent the very energy—and synergy—the building founders had hoped for.

Behind the Design

“This project has been in the works for nearly 10 years, which is why it is so satisfying to see this building reused with respect,” says Marc Mondor, co-owner of evolveEA, the Center’s sustainability and LEED consultant. The team also consists of architect DLA+ Architecture; engineer CJL Engineering and contractor Mascaro Construction.

“This is a historic building and much care was taken to leave historic elements intact,” he notes, adding that the project is about to receive a high-level LEED Platinum NC certification.

Of all the buildings in the Pittsburgh 2030 District, this one has a good chance of actually achieving the stringent 2030 energy conservation goals, explains Mondor. “This building really hits on all cylinders, with site, water, energy, materials, indoor air quality, tremendous daylighting and a desire to educate the community.” They even authored sustainability guidelines for tenants to follow.

“The site was designed to reduce rainwater runoff quantity by 35% and to treat 90% of runoff on site,” says Mondor. “Water saving fixtures are designed to reduce over 35% water over a comparable building. The building is modeled to save over 50% in energy costs over a comparable building, with a building automation system, ice storage, an absorption chiller, chilled beams and an innovative high pressure CO2 geothermal system.”

All of these processes are something the community as well as the students in the adjacent building—the Letche High School—will likely be schooled in.

The polished interior of the newly renovated Energy Innovation Center. Photo by TC Carlisle.

The polished interior of the newly renovated Energy Innovation Center. Photo by TC for NEXTpittsburgh.

Community-focused learning is the key to EIC, along with student involvement, and “solution-oriented research” meant to improve the quality of communities, and enhance the success of local businesses and start-ups in technology, the nonprofit sector and art. Yes, art.

Across the hall from the large room now used for events, artist and entrepreneur Ryan Lammie recently established the second Pittsburgh location of Radiant Hall, an art space initiative based in Lawrenceville. The gallery showcases the work of up-and-coming Pittsburgh artists, such as Seth Clark, with the intent to become a work and learning space in the future.

The diversity in career options, areas of activity and contributing partners could make the EIC a leader in the green technology field. An example, Bob Meeder hopes, that will be followed across the country.

When the EIC fully opens its doors, the school hopes to graduate 2,000 students armed with the certificates necessary to operate the latest and greatest systems in the green marketplace.

As for the future?

“It’s an exciting picture,” says Meeder. “It will be touted as a unique location for research, offer 44 different career paths and we hope to fill the building with artists, too. Everyone talks about STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Math); well we like STEAM. (The addition of arts.) That way, we can really visualize what’s possible.”