Dr. Aurora Sharrard
Green Building Alliance
Dr. Aurora Sharrard has spent most of her career working towards greening Pittsburgh’s built environment.
After moving to Pittsburgh to complete her master’s in Civil and Environmental Engineering with emphasis in Green Design at Carnegie Mellon University (and earning a PhD in the same discipline) she joined the team at Green Building Alliance, where she is now Executive Director). Founded in 1993, GBA is one of the oldest regional green building organizations in the U.S. Over the past quarter century (and in partnership with its stakeholders), GBA has helped Western Pennsylvania become a well-respected leader in green buildings and sustainability.
Dr. Sharrard co-founded the Pittsburgh 2030 District, through which 480+ buildings exceeding 76 million total square feet are committed to achieving 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by the year 2030. This District is now the largest of all 2030 Districts in North America. She is a long-time active partner of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, and in 2016, was part of the collaboration that helped Pittsburgh adopt building benchmarking legislation and become part of the City Energy Project.
Dr. Sharrard was originally drawn to Pittsburgh’s reputation as a friendly, simultaneously historic, and future-looking place with a tendency towards collaboration and all the major cultural amenities of a larger city. Quoting a 2014 Forbes ranking as an “Opportunity City” that describes best what makes Pittsburgh so special – it’s a city “small enough to make your mark but large enough to offer amenities.”
Looking to the future, Dr. Sharrard notes that as a city that has not seen vast population growth in recent decades, Pittsburgh has balanced its environmental and equity aspirations with the economic realities of its tax base at the City, County, and state levels. She believes that while newer and returning residents are residing in the City proper, the sustainability ethos of the entire region could move further, faster – and be more widely adopted by and embedded in even more people, organizations, governments, and places.
“I would love to see Pittsburgh become internationally recognized as a preeminent city for truly, actively, and widely applying interdisciplinary, environmentally conscious innovations across sectors (not just talking about it),” says Sharrard. “We do this well already, but not always at scale – and not always with public recognition.”
“I look forward to being part of this vast implementation of well-informed, triple bottom line-conscious changes and places in our region. Reflecting Pittsburgh, GBA and I have a proclivity towards action. While it’s important to spend time investigating the appropriate way to approach, implement, and/or evaluate something, I look forward to making it happen – and for very many people to reap the environmental, equity, health, beauty, and economic benefits of those efforts for centuries to come.”
Dr. Aurora Sharrard at GBA’s Inspire Speaker series with Paul Hawken and Dr. Joylette Portlock.