One building is almost to 70% reduction, she notes. “Six buildings have passed 40% so they’re at their 2035 goals.”

Another notable achievement? “We’ve built a whole economy around assessments,” she says.

“We’re doing a lot of work with parking garages—really sexy stuff here,” she says dryly, “and we achieved a lighting savings of 60% on the  energy bill of one garage in one year.  

“The URA did all five of their parking garages,” says Siefken, acknowledging David Thomas, asset manager.

“It was a team effort on the part of the GBA, the Mayor’s office and the URA to: 1) identify the opportunities for energy saving and 2) the URA board’s commitment to spend money ahead of time to save it later,” says David Thomas who notes that it pays for itself within four years.

“It has lasting benefits not only to the garages but to the businesses and the public who use the garages at SouthSide Works and Pittsburgh Technology City.” How do users benefit? “The garages are brighter and it saves us money which is passed to them through smaller rates over time,” he says.

“We have projects like this all over the city,” says Siefken.

“Take elevator retrofit—again, really sexy. Big old engines in the Steel Tower idle waiting for people to come. They’re creating (wasted) heat. They have since installed smart elevators which turn off when not in use and they have actually learned the habits of people who will crowd the elevators at 5:15.

She notes the time Duquesne Light team walked into a local and small, family-owned restaurant and offered to replace 79 light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs free of charge.

It all adds up.

Since it takes 80 years to recoup the energy costs of building new, their focus is on existing buildings.

“We want to really be thinking about how to use our existing housing stock and how to make them as sustainable as possible,” she says. “We are looking for more buildings.”

Got a building? Contact her here.