Students Hear from Guest Speaker Rob Zahorchak

By: Zach Stern and Maureen Coyle

The cohort kicked off the second half of the spring semester with a presentation from Rob Zahorchak, LEED Green Associate and Communications Director for the Green Building Alliance.

Rob spoke to the qualifications necessary for a building to be certified green and discussed some local examples including PNC, Alcoa, and Pittsburgh’s Convention Center (The 1st Green Convention Center in the world). He also touched on the process for individuals to become Green Associates.

Rob specifically spoke about LEED, its point system, and the business case for LEED in both Western PA and the United States. Pennsylvania has emerged as a leader in LEED buildings, ranking seventh in the nation, and Pittsburgh-based PNC has the most LEED certified buildings of any company in the country. Current government incentives as well as improvements in sustainable materials have made LEED more attractive than ever for many commercial buildings. In the United States, over 2 billion square feet of building space has been certified by LEED.

Rob explained the changes and future implementation of updated LEED standards and how each level of certification will change. He also spoke about forms of LEED that allow for continuous improvements beyond initial certification. The ultimate goal for the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is for all LEED Gold and Platinum buildings to be “net zero facilities,” meaning that they are off the energy grid and emit no harmful pollutants.

The Green Building Alliance is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded it 1993, it was one of the first USGBC affiliate organizations. For more information, check out GO-GBA.org

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