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The University of Pittsburgh has a strong commitment to the environment and sustainability projects on campus. The environmental impacts of our operations are kept in mind when maintaining the fourteen residence halls and six apartment complexes as we continue to create a more sustainable campus.



University of Pittsburgh's new residence hall, Nordenberg Hall, is aiming to achieve LEED certification! LEED- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design- certification provides third party confirmation of sustainable buildings.

Some sustainable attributes of Nordenberg Hall's construction are as follows:

  • The project takes advantage of its urban site and is within ½ mile of many campus and community services, such as restaurants, a museum, parks, a bank, pharmacy, medical services, library, and convenience store;
  • The project benefits from robust public transportation access, with  12 bus stops serving  15 bus lines within a ¼ mile walk;
  • Light-colored paving at the street and a light-colored roof deck help keep the building and its surrounding area cooler in the summer;
  • High-efficiency, low-flow plumbing fixtures will reduce water consumption by 35%;
  • Street-level plantings and the sedum on the third floor patio are indigenous and require no irrigation, further contributing to the building’s significant water-conservation efforts;
  • To cut down on waste generated by all of the residents and other building occupants, a day-to-day operational recycling plan will be facilitated and executed, significantly reducing  trips to the landfill;
  • More than 75% of all construction-related waste generated during the building of Nordenberg Hall will be recycled and diverted from landfill;
  • More than 20% of all building materials have recycled content;
  • More than 20% of all building materials were extracted and manufactured within 500-miles of the site;
  • All adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, flooring, carpets, and agrifiber materials used in the building have low or  no-VOCs;

Pursuit of LEED certification further exemplifies Pitt’s leadership with environmental innovation. Check back here soon as the website will be updated as the building progresses!

Nordenberg Hall


Campus News

RecycleMania is here! From February 4th-March 31st, Pitt is competing in with over 500 other colleges and universities to see who can recycle more and waste less. You can participate by recycling all your glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper products around campus. Get in the game!

University of Pittsburgh is working to reduce plastic bag consumption on campus. Campus Quick Zones are implementing a new lending system with reusable bags. Students are encouraged to bring their own reusable bag- students living in residence halls received one during move in. If students forget their reusable bag, they can borrow one from Quick Zone and return it later. Become part of the solution: just say no to plastic!

Plant to Plate, Pitt's student organization that manages an urban garden on campus, was recently awarded Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Citzens Service Award. This is a special award that honors individuals and organizations committed to strengthening communities and improving quality of life in the city of Pittsburgh. Congratulations Plant to Plate!


Recycling turns potential waste into useful materials, which saves energy, decreases the need for land filling/incineration and preserves natural resources such as timber, water and other minerals. Since 2008, the Department of Housing is proud to offer recycling services on every floor of every residence hall for students’ convenience. For information on recycling in your building, please see the instructions below.

Hard-to-Recycle Items List and Locations
Unsure of what to do with unwanted items such as cell phones or printer cartridges? These waste products require special care to be kept away from landfills. The University does provide pick-up locations in various residence halls for these items which diverts these sometimes hazardous waste products away from landfills.

Battery, cell phone and iPod recycling is offered in the Litchfield Towers Lobby (near Panther Central), the Lothrop Hall Lobby, and the Sutherland Hall lobby.

Printer cartridge recycling is available in the Litchfield Towers Lobby, (near Panther Central), Lothrop Hall Lobby, Sutherland Hall Lobby, Pennsylvania and Panther Hall Lobbies.

E-Waste (TVs, Computers, DVD Players, other small appliances) can be recycled at special events hosted on campus periodically. Check back here for times and locations.

For more information about hard-to-recycle items, please visit the University of Pittsburgh Environmental Health and Safety Department and the University of Pittsburgh Surplus Property.


What Is RecycleMania?

Recycle Mania LogoRecycleMania is a friendly competition between over 600 colleges and universities to see who can recycle more and waste less. Over an 8-week period, schools report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate. The competition serves as a motivator to the student body, and as a valuable benchmarking tool.

  • Housing services works with student group Free the Planet, Residence Life, Facilities Management, and Sodexo to plan and promote the program.
  • University of Pittsburgh set an internal goal to recycle 12 lbs/student (combined goal for cans/bottles, paper, and corrugated cardboard) for the 2012 competition.
  • Recycling materials are collected and measured each Friday and results are submitted to RecycleMania on a weekly basis.
  • Since 2011, University of Pittsburgh has been eligible to compete in the composting division, further improving standings in the Waste Minimization division.

Recycling Awards

2012 Results

  • Grand Champion: Pitt ranked 94 out of 265
  • Per Capita Classic: Pitt ranked 137 out of 339
  • Waste Minimization: Pitt ranked 81 out of 179
  • Gorilla Prize: Pitt ranked 33 out of 296
  • Targeted Materials - Paper: Pitt ranked 79 out of 169
  • Targeted Materials - Cardboard: Pitt ranked 37 out of 168
  • Targeted Materials - Bottles & Cans: Pitt ranked 104 out of 146
  • Targeted Materials - Food Services Organics: Pitt ranked 118 out of 126

2012 Big East Results

  • Grand Champion: Pitt ranked 3 out of 9 participating Big East schools
  • Per Capita Classic: Pitt ranked 3 out of 9 participating Big East schools
  • Waste Minimization: Pitt ranked 4 out of 5 participating Big East schools
  • Gorilla Prize: Pitt ranked 2 out of 9 participating Big East schools
  • Paper: Pitt ranked 1 out of 6 participating Big East schools
  • Cardboard: Pitt ranked 1 out of 6 participating Big East schools
  • Bottles & Cans: Pitt ranked 3 out of 6 participating Big East schools
  • Food Services: Pitt ranked 4 out of 5 participating Big East Schools

2011 Results

  • Grand Champion: Pitt ranked 164 out of 288
  • Per Capita Classic: Pitt ranked 142 out of 362
  • Waste Minimization: Pitt ranked 100 out of 182
  • Gorilla Prize: Pitt ranked 26 out of 362
  • Targeted Material - Paper: Pitt ranked 115 out of 226
  • Targeted Material - Cardboard: Pitt ranked 43 out of 231
  • Targeted Material - Bottles and Cans: Pitt ranked 139 out of 219
  • Targeted Materials - Food Services Organic - Pitt ranked 117 out of 131

2011 Big East Results:

  • Grand Champion: Pitt ranked 2 out of 4 participating Big East schools
  • Per Capita Classic: Pitt ranked 2 out of 5 participating Big East schools
  • Waste Minimization: Pitt ranked 3 out of 3 participating Big East schools
  • Gorilla Prize: Pitt ranked 2 out of 5 participating Big East schools
  • Paper: Pitt ranked 1 out of 5 participating Big East schools
  • Cardboard: Pitt ranked 1 out of 4 participating Big East schools
  • Bottles & Cans: Pitt ranked 1 out of 4 participating Big East schools
  • Food Services: Pitt ranked 2 out of 5 participating Big East schools

Pitt looks forward to moving up in the rankings during the 2013 RecycleMania competition!

Sustainable Design and Construction

Sustainable design is a term used to describe best practices that lessen the environmental impact of a structure. This involves consciously choosing low impact building materials, including those made from recyclables, energy efficient appliances and practices, and design that is conducive to the local environment. The University of Pittsburgh exhibits some examples of these standards in all buildings on campus. A new 10-story residence hall under construction at the corner of Fifth Avenue and University Place is registered to achieve LEED Certification- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED Buildings are certified based on a rating system, which considers everything from the location of the building to the materials and process used to install them. Panther Hall is one of the best current examples of sustainable design.

Panther Hall Sustainability Initiatives

  • North/south orientation maximizes exposure to winter sun and minimizes solar exposure in summer
  • Bicycle storage racks
  • High efficiency chiller utilizing non CFC Refrigerant
  • Light sensors in all public spaces
  • T-5 fluorescent lamping and electronic ballasts
  • Solar control low-e glazing at all exterior glazing
  • Erosion control practices during construction
  • Building materials with recycled content
  • Regional materials utilized (concrete, rebar, brick veneer, millwork, cultured marble and exterior glazing)
  • Low emitting materials: paints and sealants, carpet backing
  • Resident control on preset range for room thermostats
  • Operable windows
  • Daylighting in a minimum of 75% of all interior occupied spaces

Examples of Sustainable Design Standards

  • Energy efficient control schemes
  • University standard carpet installations must include a minimum of 25% recycled content.
  • Carpet adhesives contain no VOC.
  • The majority of paints qualify as Low VOC paints.

Energy and Utilities

Engery and Utilities bulb
  • Distributed Green Grab Bags to the 2012 freshman class. These reusable shopping bags were filled with useful and environmentally friendly gifts including a reusable coffee mug, flash drives and bike maps of the city.
  • Installed about 1,000 Motion Sensor Lights (MSL) in all trash rooms, most lounges and many hallways in residence halls, ensuring that only rooms in use are lit
  • Replaced thousands of T12 fluorescent bulbs with the more efficient T8 bulbs in residence halls
  • Sponsored the creation of the University of Pittsburgh’s first urban garden, located on Oakland Avenue, with the help of student group Plant to Plate, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and Professor Ward Allebach’s Sustainability Class.
  • Clutter for a Cause event held during move-out of Spring 2011 collected almost 400 lbs of food for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and enough appliances, clothes and furniture to fill a Goodwill trailer truck. In doing so, the university not only contributed to these donation programs, but kept these usable materials out of landfills.
  • Replaced 2.2 gallon per minute (gpm) aerators with 0.5 gpm aerators in the bathrooms of Towers A, B, and C, reducing the sink flow rate by 77%.
  • Partnered with the Pitt Green Fund to install Go Green signs, emphasizing the environmental impacts of students' actions in all residence hall bathrooms, laundry rooms, and trash rooms across campus.
  • Collaborated with student group Free the Planet to host a trash sort event, to raise awareness across campus about the amount of "trash" that is actually recyclable or compostable.

Environmental Living Learning

Living-Learning Communities are groups of students who share common academic goals or interests, and reside together in a residence hall floor. The Environmentalists Changing our Earth LLC, to begin Fall 2013, provides students with knowledge of how societal values impact environmental issues. This community will learn about changes that can be made to enhance sustainability through interactive programming, guest speakers, and environmental volunteerism. Students will learn what measures are being taken locally and the importance of civic engagement. You can learn more through Residence Life.

Any further questions about sustainability can be directed to


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