Zoning for Sustainability


  • How Pittsburgh successfully rezoned its Uptown EcoInnovation District
  • How related environmental goals for different districts translate into zoning
  • How Pittsburgh is integrating sustainability and innovation strategies into equitable long-range planning, and how those efforts can be replicated by other communities


Pittsburgh is experiencing a resurgence. New industries are thriving, and the city is getting renewed attention. Once "hell with the lid off," Pittsburgh has improved its air and water quality since its industrial heyday, but like many legacy cities, it still has challenges to overcome. Those challenges include overburdened, aging water infrastructure; combined sewers that overflow into Pittsburgh's three rivers; and poor air quality. Pittsburgh's Department of City Planning will soon complete projects that address these particular challenges as part of larger zoning overhauls of two separate districts. The Uptown EcoInnovation District combines the goals of both EcoDistricts and Innovation Districts that have helped to positively transform communities across the country with a focus on healing the environment, supporting the needs of existing residents, and expanding job growth. In addition, after much planning over the course of a decade, the city has undertaken an update of the zoning along Pittsburgh's 36 miles of riverfront. Although each district has identified distinct environmental goals, both are utilizing updated zoning as a key tool that, along with city policies and neighborhood projects, will result in improved air and water quality, decreased runoff, and healthier environs.