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Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

$5 Million Comes To Pittsburgh To Draw Up Resiliency Plans


While he was in Bellagio, Italy last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed on to a pledge to commit at least 10 percent of the city’s operating and capital budgets to making Pittsburgh a more resilient city, a move that Pittsburgh Chief Resilience officer Grant Ervin said is extremely timely.

“Look, for example, at some of the challenges that are being faced right now in South Carolina,” said Ervin, referring to the massive flooding that has displaced hundreds of residents.  “How do you clean up quickly and then how do you become a stronger city following the event?”

By signing the pledge the city will open a stream of $5 million over the next five years from the Rockefeller Foundation for technical support of the city’s efforts to plan its response to climate and economic challenges. 

66 other cities have already signed the pledge and the foundation expects that number to eventually reach 100.  Peduto signed the pledge while meeting with the leaders of many of the of the other signator cities.

“Resilience is built in different ways in different cities,” Ervin said, adding that cities can share best practices and learn from each other.

The city began by looking at where it is already spending tax dollars on resilience-related efforts; flood control quickly rose to the top of the list.

“Whether its enhancing our facilities or … creating green infrastructure and storm water remediation efforts,” Ervin said.

Addressing deficient bridges and other crumbling infrastructure issues, winter storm and cold weather response and coping with the needs of an aging population will also be high priorities in the resiliency effort.

Ervin said the city will ask its authorities to make similar commitments to resiliency planning and spending.

“This pledge builds on our already fiscally-sound budgeting practices, and allows us to further target city resources toward making our neighborhoods and financial structures even more resilient,” Mayor Bill Peduto said. “We’re looking at how we allocate our expenditures to reduce our carbon footprint and impact on the environment, while at the same time improving the services and efficiency of local government.”

Ervin said it is all about being able to react and adapt in the face of change and not just “bounce back but bounce forward.”