Shawn Garvin said there’s a misconception that people must be either pro-environment or pro-economical development.
He is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator for the Mid-Atlantic region and believes that they are not mutually exclusive and can, in fact, go hand-in-hand.
That’s why Mayor Bill Peduto hosted a roundtable discussion Thursday centered around how the city can support the growing “clean technology” movement.
“We talked about it being where business meets environmentalism, (and) environmental goals,” Councilwoman Deb Gross said. “But I’ve seen other regions define it as a combination of firms who are doing the smart transportation initiatives, the smart city initiatives, smart buildings and also water management.”
She admitted that while that might sound overwhelming, a lot of these things are already happening in the city.
However, the group of panelists representing the government, businesses and non-profits agreed that the different firms need to work together and combine their resources.
Peduto used the example of the city’s $3 billion agreement with the EPA to fix the combined sewer overflow problem.
“That will be the only time that we can address the Green Boulevard project,” Peduto said. “How does the Green Boulevard project become part of the plan that we submit to the EPA so at the same time we see that development happening in that 3.2 of riverfront development for the next 100 years?”
The project he is referencing aims to create a “rail-with-trail green boulevard” to accommodate existing Allegheny Valley Railroad freight as well as regional passenger rail use.
Peduto said that Pittsburgh needs to find a way to be more creative with the resources it already has – including funding – because the state has actually cut programs instead of contributing to the movement.
Ron Gdovic, the founder of wind power company WindStax, said Pittsburgh has a lot of his needs within walking distance – something he took into consideration when he was searching for the location of his company.
“We basically have the makings of a clean technology cluster already,” Gdovic, said. “We have suppliers within walking distance of us, everything from, we have three different paint manufacturers we can walk to, when we have to go down the street to Grangers, we jump on a bike and go pick up a park, and the list just goes on and on.”
Kim Kipin-McDonald, head of Sustainability for Bayer Material Science, agreed, saying she is interested in participating in up-start companies and being involved in the future, and the city allows Bayer to do that.
“One of the reasons that we often state to our commitment to the city of Pittsburgh is because we realize there’s a lot of rich information and technology development opportunities out there,” Kipin-McDonald said.
The discussion was held in conjunction with the White House Business Council and Business Forward.