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Peduto Talks Sustainable Development in Germany

“It’s not a sales pitch ‘Come to Pittsburgh, we’ve got a place for you,’” said Mayor Bill Peduto about his four-day trip to Germany.

Peduto is meeting with his counterpart from Ludwigsburg as well as other government officials and business executives from across that country.

He said it’s more about finding commonalities on major issues around sustainability and technology. 

“Finding that there’s a network of cities internationally that ‘get it’ and trying to put Pittsburgh on that map with them and understanding what we’re doing mainly through our universities and nonprofit organizations is cutting edge even to those cities like Ludwigsburg, which has earned an international reputation,” he said.

Peduto is the guest of Ludwigsburg Lord Mayor Werner Spec, and Carnegie Mellon University is covering the cost of the trip to learn about making sustainable improvements to government services. The Pittsburgh delegation also includes Volker Hartkopf from CMU’s Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics, Energy Innovation Center chairman Bill Recker, computer software executive Mike Mihuc of OSIsoft, and Green Building Alliance CEO Mike Schiller.

CEOs from across Germany joined Peduto for a two-day conference that concludes Thursday celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Sustainable City Development in Ludwigsburg, a small city in southwestern Germany. 

According to Peduto, over the last decade Ludwigsburg has been working to address municipal and resident concerns through interdepartmental cooperation as well as with industry to spark sustainable change.

Europeans define sustainability as “beauty and forever,” Peduto said. “It’s how everything incorporates itself to be lasting.  It’s not just being done as a throwaway part of an economy but as a part of how we do things that have long-term benefits and minimize negative impacts.”

Peduto said the Pittsburgh area needs to add the components of sustainability: technology, innovation and equity. 

“We have the parts," he said. "We just haven’t put them together, and we have new partners now and this is certainly a part of building that new partnership that Pittsburgh can become an international leader.”

According to the mayor, new development in Pittsburgh can be done the old way or the sustainable way. 

“You can look at this and say ‘how can we be ahead of the pack; how can we allow technology, sustainable ideals and what’s already being done around the world and take it to the next level and put Pittsburgh on the map where people will want to be and to go and to research and to see,’" he said.

But can the practices that have worked in Ludwigsburg, a city with a population of 87,00o work in Pittsburgh? 

“I’d argue that Pittsburgh is the perfect size because it’s small enough that we can actually do it and large enough that the world will take notice,” Peduto said.  

The mayor will wrap up his visit meeting with business executives in the cities of Freiburg and Vauban Friday and fly back to Pittsburgh Saturday.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
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