Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation (PGC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, formed in 1998 to focus on economic and community development. PGC owns the historic former Connelley Vocational School and its seven acre campus in Pittsburgh’s lower Hill District, which it has successfully developed and renovated into the new Energy Innovation Center (EIC). The EIC is a LEED Platinum Dynamic Facility with 168,000 sq. ft. representing some of this region’s best technologies in power generation, energy conservation, and operating systems. The EIC had more than 150 corporations participate in the design, development, construction, and equipment furnishing of the complex. The EIC acts as a center of sustainability, focusing on environmentally friendly buildings, career development and performance, and wellness initiatives.
PGC has also developed and piloted innovative workforce development programs, including the Introduction to Construction Trades (which had 18 participating unions and 85% minority and women participation) and a design challenge program for high school students, in which students serve as consultants for 10 week periods to the EIC’s renovation and design challenges. During the past three years, over 300 students from 15 school districts have participated in 14 design challenges sponsored by PGC and EIC. Challenge topics have ranged from addressing storm water management issues at the EIC to designing a comprehensive plan for sustainable energy at the EIC using a windturbine technology, micro-grid storage, and an instructional plan on how to use the solution. Key to all of the design challenges is the opportunity for students from different schools to work collaboratively to solve real world problems.