Bill Flanagan

I recently caught up with Gary Saulson, executive vice president and director of corporate real estate for The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., as the company was clearing the site at Wood Street between Fifth and Forbes avenues for what is expected to be the world’s most environmentally friendly highrise.

The 33-story glass Tower at PNC Plaza will rely heavily on natural light and ventilation, feature high-efficiency heating and cooling system, as well as green rooftops to improve insulation and channel rainwater for re-use. The design team is exploring the use of fuel cells, solar panels, geothermal systems and other alternative power generation sources to reduce carbon emissions.

As Saulson explains in the video clip below, the green philosophy even applies to the demolition … er, “deconstruction” of the buildings that occupied the site. As much as 95 percent of the steel, wood and other salvageable materials in the previous structures will be re-used or recycled. The non-profit building material reuse retailer Construction Junction in Point Breeze is assisting with those efforts.

You can read more about the building — expected to be open for business in 2015 — here.

Bill Flanagan

More than a century ago, Pittsburgh Plate Glass figured out the first commercially viable way to manufacture flat glass. In the years since, it’s evolved into a global coatings company called PPG Industries that remains on the cutting edge of glass as well. Most of its global R&D happens here in the Pittsburgh region and will be an integral part of what’s billed as the world’s largest living building.

 PPG’s first glass plant at Creighton, Pa., along the Allegheny River, pioneered the process of manufacturing glass using the plate process. Photo Copyright PPG Industries, Inc.

It’s the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a place already known as the “greenest” glass house in the world. The new structure takes intelligent building beyond the gold and platinum standard to a whole new level: a facility that generates all its own energy with renewable resources, captures and treats all of its water on-site, and uses resources efficiently and for maximum beauty. There are only three such structures in the world, and Phipps is getting ready to cut the ribbon the biggest one.

In a living demonstration of the power of Pittsburgh, to collaborate and develop new energy-related solutions, a number of regional companies are contributing technology to the new living building. PPG’s contribution includes two types of triple-glazed insulating glass units. Phipps specified PPG glass, says Richard Piacentini, executive director, “because we wanted a low-e (low emissivity), high performing glass that provides state-of-the-art solar and thermal control and energy efficiency, while admitting maximum daylight.”

The people who invented the glass technology work at the PPG Glass Business and Discovery Center in Harmar, about 15 miles up the Allegheny River from the company’s headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh. It’s also not far from Springdale, where native daughter Rachel Carson grew up. Fifty years ago this year, Carson jump-started the modern environmental movement with the publication of Silent Spring. She’d probably be pleased to know that not too far from the Rachel Carson Homestead researchers have had a hand in building one of the greenest buildings in the world.

Phipps plans to cut the ribbon on the Center for Sustainable Landscapes in May. You can learn more about the glass PPG’s innovative glass all of this by clicking here. You can also watch a video about Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes here.


Tonight marks the grand opening of the South Shore Riverfront Park. From 6-8pm, the family-friendly, free celebration will be hosted by Cindy Howes of WYEP Morning Mix, featuring great live music, arts and crafts for younger attendees, snacks, and beverages.

Photo Copyright Joe Wojcik / Pittsburgh Business Times

Currently the city’s newest green attraction, the 3.2-acre park also holds an amphitheater and serves as a link to the pedestrian-friendly Hot Metal Bridge, Three Rivers Heritage Trail system, and the Great Allegheny Passage. This project is realized through an alliance of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the City of Pittsburgh, and Riverlife Pittsburgh. These collaborators will continue to work together, eventually developing the space to host recreational access to the river for boating and other activities, a private marina, and water taxi service, to be available next year.

The transformed space, once a brownfield industrial site, represents another new leaf turned by Pittsburgh. Cindy Adams Dunn, Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources explains, “We use the Pittsburgh example across Pennsylvania when we talk to communities about connecting to the river and using this natural asset to their own benefit and to the benefit of their citizens.”

Ready to go? Valet service for bikes will be provided by BikePGH, and a beautiful day to bike, walk, bus or drive it is.

See you at the park!

The results are in for the winners of the 2012 Small Business Awards, presented at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel on May 25. You can read more about them here, and watch videos of the winners here or below.

As a part of the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Network, the the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (which runs the blog you are reading) convenes the event, which begins a morning trade show and networking, followed by a luncheon and awards ceremony. Award recipients include business  owners who are military veterans, young entrepreneurs, multi-generational families and founders of high-growth businesses identified by the Pittsburgh Impact initiative. The Impact initiative is an effort by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (another Allegheny Conference affiliate) to help small, high-growth companies continue to thrive.

Watch all of the videos here.


Bonnie Pfister

Fifty-year-old Jim Kistler gave up what he called a dead-end job in exchange for three weeks of training through ShaleNET, a program that helps to prepare and train people for in-demand jobs across the natural gas industry and its supply chain in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Based at community colleges and technical schools across the Marcellus Shale footprint, ShaleNET has helped nearly 900 people find jobs since its founding in 2010.

Kistler, of Dumont, Westmoreland County, is among them. This former diesel mechanic is now in charge of a fleet of more than 70 vehicles and pieces of heavy equipment for Horizontal Wireline Services in Irwin. Check out the video below to hear Kistler tell more.

ShaleNET links industry, workforce investment boards and training providers to ensure local worker placement in six entry-level, family sustaining positions that have been identified as high-priority occupations  by the Pennsylvania Workforce Development, a program of the state’s Department of Labor & Industry. To learn more or register to receive the ShaleNET newsletter, go to

Ben Kamber

When you apply for a job online, where does your resume go? Bill sits down with Don Charlton, founder and CEO of The Resumator, which provides small business owners with an efficient recruiting platform. It guides recruiters through the process, and helps ensure that the right person has been employed for the right job. A Pittsburgh-based startup, The Resumator is growing rapidly, with an average of 100 new clients each month.

A student organized and driven event, the CMU Summit on U.S.-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship is bringing in students from across the country to help promote partnerships and investment opportunities between Pittsburgh and China. Rui Ma, founder and chair of the summit and Cora Wang, president of the Chinese Student and Scholar Association, discuss how this event came about and how common challenges can unite regions in China with Pittsburgh.

Based in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, CombineNET is experiencing tremendous growth by providing supply-chain solutions to companies throughout the nation and world. The 10 year old software company, which now employees 60 people, has expanded its customer base by 70 percent and grew it revenues by one third in 2011. CEO Rich Wilson explains why CombineNET’s innovative expressive bidding platform is leading to this explosive growth.

Our Region’s Business” airs Sundays at 11 a.m. on WPXI-TV. Hosted by the Allegheny Conference’s Bill Flanagan, the 30-minute business affairs program is co-produced with Cox Broadcasting. The program is rebroadcast on PCNC-TV at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, and at 3:30 p.m. Mondays. It also airs Sundays on WJAC-TV (Johnstown-Altoona) at 6 a.m. and WTOV-TV (Wheeling-Steubenville) at 6:30 a.m.