There’s more than meets the eye to the buildings that dot Pittsburgh’s picturesque skyline and populate its neighborhoods. Many of them — 83 to be exact — are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified-structures commonly called “green buildings” because their design, materials and operations are easy on the environment and energy usage.

Fact:  Pittsburgh – once notoriously tagged “hell with the lid off” because of its environmental pollution– registered three of the first 12 LEED structures in the United States. Fast-forward to today when some 75 percent of new buildings in the city are pursuing LEED certification. And more than 20 million square feet of real estate is part of a groundbreaking, high-performance building district that aims to dramatically reduce energy and water consumption, reduce transportation emissions and improve indoor air quality by 2030.

Green is definitely a way of life in Pittsburgh, the new “Emerald City.” But we’re even moving beyond green by designing and constructing “living buildings” that produce as much energy as they use and that capture precipitation and treat their own wastewater – leading to water independence. One such building is the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory, the site for today’s One Young World breakout session on “Sustainable Cultivation:  Growing Greener Communities Across the Globe.”

Recently, Architectural Record was so impressed by Pittsburgh’s green leadership, that it featured the city in a series on “Transforming the American City.”  And we’re on the cover, too. If you can’t make it to Phipps and the Center for Sustainable Landscapes for this afternoon’s breakout, you can read about it in an online version of the magazine. The article also features a sampling of some of our other green building gems. Several are in town and worth checking out while you’re here.

Finally, mark your calendars to come back in the summer of 2015 when the world’s tallest green skyrise – The Tower at PNC Plaza – will be open for business.