‘Ambassadors’ reclaiming vacant property in the Hilltop

This year, Growth Through Energy and Community Health (GTECH) Strategies has launched ReClaim South: Sustaining Momentum, a continuation of its 2014 program aimed at giving South Pittsburgh residents, also known as neighborhood ambassadors, the ability and support to lead individual green space development projects. GTECH's ambassador-driven development model has led to more than 80 volunteers and 328 hours of community service invested in South Pittsburgh neighborhoods including Beltzhoover, Allentown, Mount Oliver, Knoxville, and St. Clair.

If I Knew Then: Andrew Butcher

Andrew Butcher of GTECH Strategies breaks down some of the stumbling blocks encountered while founding and ramping up GTECH.

Residents across W.Pa. working to improve communities’ appearance, safety

For years, Ayanna Lee-Davis felt a pang of melancholy almost every time she passed by the weed-ridden, garbage-strewn swath of abandoned land blighting the curve of road that leads to the heart of Perry South in Pittsburgh's North Side. It had pained the lifelong North Sider, 42, to watch her community “go from a place where families united and upkeep of property was important,” to an increasingly disjointed neighborhood plagued by unmaintained, empty lots. So Lee-Davis, a real estate attorney,…

Meet the Man Making the Most Out of Pittsburgh’s Vacant Lots

GTECH's roots go all the way back to 2006, when Andrew Butcher, Chris Koch, Matthew Ciccone and Nathaniel Doyno planted sunflowers on a vacant lot to beautify empty space, encourage neighborhood revitalization and even use sunflower oil as biofuel. Since 2007, GTECH has helped to clean up more than 2 million square feet in 60 communities and employs 16 people. Learn more about GTECH's philosophy, history and current projects.

In Pittsburgh, Pretty Public Spaces Also Mean Jobs

“Mount Washington is a microcosm of the story of Pittsburgh,” says Ilyssa Manspeizer, executive director of the brand-new Pittsburgh Conservation Corps (PCC). The organization plans to forge a route back into the workforce for people who have been unemployed for one reason or another, by hiring and training them to improve public land throughout the region. Manspeizer spun off PCC from the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC), where she was formerly executive director. She got the idea back in…

Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Green Workplace Challenge winners reduced landfill waste, cut water usage and more

About 50 area employers participated in Sustainable Pittsburgh’s third “friendly competition” to see who could most reduce their use of energy and other resources over the past year. Competitors – including businesses, nonprofits, universities and government entities ranging from tiny to huge – earned points for everything from switching to more energy-efficient lightbulbs to installing solar panels.

Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Green Workplace Challenge winners: How they did it

The employers highlighted by Sustainable Pittsburgh‘s Green Workplace Challenge are varied; some are small companies, some are universities, some are municipalities. But the small steps each employer took to make their workplaces greener can add up to a serious impact. The friendly competition, now in its third year, ran from October 2014 for a full year and encouraged companies in the Greater Pittsburgh area to earn points in the competition by taking “green actions,” which ranged from using more energy-efficient…

MWCDC spins off trail corps, ED to head new entity

Big changes are ahead for the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC), when executive director Ilyssa Manspeizer officially steps down on Dec. 14 to lead the spin-off of the Emerald Trail Corps in January.

Mount Washington trail-building program expected to branch out

The work of a corps of young men who built 10 miles of trail in Mount Washington’s Emerald View Park has inspired a new venture to be expanded and taken citywide and beyond in the next two years. An outgrowth of the Emerald Trail Corps will become the Pittsburgh Conservation Corps, in partnership with the Allegheny Land Trust, GTECH — Growth Through Energy and Community Health — Strategies, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and PGH Works.

Ilyssa Manspeizer to head green job training program as it expands citywide

Improving public lands while offering employment at the same time has been a successful venture of Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation’s (MWCDC) Emerald Trail Corps (ETC) since 2011—so successful, in fact, that the project is being spun-off and expanding citywide.

Winners announced in Green Workplace Challenge

A friendly environmental competition among 50 Western Pennsylvania companies, nonprofits and other organizations resulted in $1.5 million in energy savings and 436 fewer tons of waste heading to landfills over the past year, organizers said. The Green Workplace Challenge, which wrapped up its third installment with an awards ceremony at the Andy Warhol Museum Wednesday evening, encouraged participants to reduce energy and water use, cut pollution and get more employees involved in environmentally friendly work. Participants earned points in the…