An in-depth study on energy consumption in the Triboro Ecodistrict

Over 10,000 residents reside within the Triboro Ecodistrict, and their voices are at the center of the work being done to build healthier, inclusive, and sustainable communities for current and future generations.

September 6, 2023

Over 10,000 residents reside within the Triboro Ecodistrict, and their voices are at the center of the work being done to build healthier, inclusive, and sustainable communities for current and future generations.

From the beginning, Energy has been at the forefront of the conversation. Every energy-related effort since 2012 has been carefully considered for its potential to provide cost savings, reduce energy consumption, increase adoption of renewable energy, increase community resilience, and to achieve equitable outcomes by reducing the energy burden for community members.

In August 2022, evolveEA and Triboro Ecodistrict released the Triboro Ecodistrict Energy Baseline Study with New Sun Rising and support from The Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

The purpose of the study is to better understand residential site energy consumption in the three boroughs, so they can implement strategies that reduce energy consumption and increase on-site renewable energy. The three components of the study include:

Building Energy Characteristics- Analysis of residential building characteristics, such as square footage, age, and condition, which served as the basis for the data collection efforts performed in collaboration with Duquesne Light and Peoples Gas.

Utility Data Collection & Analysis- Collection and analysis of actual energy consumption data, analyzed according to the building energy characteristics.

Resident Survey- Resident survey to understand behaviors and perceptions related to residential energy consumption,energy costs, alternative energy and sustainability, and demographic information. The survey was performed in collaboration with Sarah SanGiovanni.

The findings from the report included 13 recommendations with varying degrees of impact, cost, and effort. The goals with the most impact include:

1. Completing free building energy audits and energy conservation improvements in partnership with Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh

2. Acquire funding to support rapid solarization efforts of over 25 Megawatts on large scattered sites throughout the communities, which will also create more jobs.

3.Encourage participation in the New Sun Rising Solar Workforce Development program where participants gain free NABCEP solar installation certification

4. Increase internal capacity to implement energy-related recommendations by hiring a Triboro Ecodistrict coordinator.

The study breaks down the energy characteristics of residential buildings, a utility data analysis, and the results of the resident surveys. To read the full report, click here.

Over the last decade, there have been several major energy successes throughout the Triboro that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and therefore have lessened their contribution to the climate crisis.

The Millvale Food + Energy Hub is a 10,000 square foot former Moose Lodge that has been transformed into a solar powered facility and serves as a cafe, food rescue, co-working space, public and private event space, job training space, and gathering space for enhanced community resilience. The building contains a state-of-the-art Solar DC Microgrid System with building automation and an Energy Discovery Zone that serves as a learning tool for the Solar Workforce & Education Program.

Spearheaded by New Sun Rising and Moose MODE Inc., and in partnership with the Triboro Ecodistrict and Millvale Ecodistrict Collaborative, the program consists of its Solar Energy Workforce, Teen Solar Fellowship, and Energy Discovery Workzone.

In Etna, the solar array at the Garden of Etna includes a solar carport and EV car charger that is 6.48kW with an annual output of 6957 kWh. The car charging station is free for residents, or anyone, to use and it powers the Garden’s lights, rain barrel pumps, electric gardening equipment, and cooking appliances during food events.

The Sharpsburg Sustainability & Civic Engagement Center, Second Harvest, and Sharpsburg Community Library are all equipped with rooftop solar arrays.

Ongoing projects to look out for:

In 2022, a grant was awarded by Green Mountain Energy Sun Club to New Sun Rising and Millvale Community Development Corporation (MCDC) to fund the future rooftop solar installation and level two electric vehicle car charging stations at 216 North Ave. Both New Sun Rising and MCDC worked together to secure Federal Community Project Funding to renovate the property. It’s owned by MCDC, they are collaborating with evolveEA with aspirations for the building to be Net Zero. When complete, it will be the single largest solar production site in the Triboro Ecodistrict.

The Department of Public Works building and the Linden Gym in Sharpsburg are prime for a solar-power microgrid installation. Through a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection, it was determined that solarizing these two buildings would produce enough energy to cover the costs of electricity in each location and also the Municipal Building. The Borough utilized the GET Solar program to collect estimates for installation, and with an eye on federal funding geared towards environmental justice projects, the solarization of these two buildings is expected to happen within the next two to three years.