Green Event Destinations: Pittsburgh Paves the Way for Sustainability

July 5, 2022

If thoughts of Pittsburgh still evoke visions of a gritty, industrial steel town, then it’s time to pay a visit and have your misconceptions changed! Within the last several decades, this revitalized metropolis has undergone a dramatic transformation that has made it one of the cleanest, most environmentally friendly places in the nation.  

Named one of the most livable cities in the U.S. as well as a top 10 U.S. cities for green-certified building spaces, Pittsburgh is not only a friendly destination boasting a beautiful skyline, sparkling rivers, stunning architecture and a bustling arts, culture, sports and environmental scene but also a dynamic meetings and trade show destination offering a plethora of world-class hotels, meetings venues and cultural attractions suitable for event groups of all shapes and sizes. 

Here are some of the city’s most popular and uber-sustainable venues and attractions to consider when planning your next trade show or event in “The City of Bridges.”

David L. Lawrence Convention Center 

Known for its marketing tagline of “If you want to have a green meeting, all you have to do is show up,” the Platinum LEED-certified David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC) was designed to reduce the use of natural resources and operate at the highest green potential. Opened in 2004, the facility is not only the first convention center to achieve Platinum certification under the Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system, it’s the first convention center in the U.S. to have both “New Construction” and “Existing Building” certifications.

DLCC Rooftop Terrace

Featuring stunning architecture that includes 53 meeting rooms, 313,400 square feet of exhibit space, a 31,610 sq.-ft. ballroom, spacious interiors flooded with natural light, expansive terraces and balconies, a 20,000-sq.ft. green roof with a hydroponics greenhouse and rooftop garden, along with a sustainably minded F&B program, this 1.5 million sq. ft. high-tech facility has all the operations in place to produce an environmentally friendly event. 

In June, the venue unveiled its newly renovated fourth-floor Rooftop Terrace, offering more than 35,000 sq. ft. of flexible outdoor space for groups of up to 400 people. Featuring dazzling riverfront and city views, expansive walkways, curated rooftop gardens with native plants, teak seating features and a 688-foot LED tube art installation, this modernized space can suit a range of event groups, from small, intimate gatherings to large business receptions. 

The Garden Room at the National Aviary

The Garden Room at National Aviary

Featuring views of Allegheny Commons Park and Lake Elizabeth, The Garden Room is a new LEED-Gold certified venue within the National Aviary, the nation’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated to birds. Offering state-of-the-art sustainability features, it includes bird-safe glass to protect wildlife and stunning views of the historic Rose Garden, as well as eye-catching, light-refracting skylights that reduce energy consumption. 

Able to comfortably accommodate up to 175 guests, the space offers industry-leading accessibility features including a family restroom and an adult changing table nearby, as well as ramp access to the Rose Garden. Additionally, event guests can feel good about hosting events at The Garden Room, as their spend helps support the National Aviary’s mission to inspire respect for nature through an appreciation of birds.

Rivers of Steel Explorer Riverboat 

Rivers of Steel Explorer Riverboat 

Designed and built to LEED standards and docked on the North Shore near the headwaters of the Ohio River, the Explorer is the world’s first green passenger riverboat offering a range of sightseeing tours designed to immerse guests in the beauty and history of Pittsburgh from its majestic rivers. Groups can choose a custom route for their event or host a private sightseeing tour led by a Rivers of Steel guide along all three of Pittsburgh’s rivers: the Ohio, the Monongahela and the Allegheny. Plus, groups can feel great knowing that all charter proceeds help underwrite Rivers of Steel’s STEM-based education programs for students throughout southwestern Pennsylvania.

Energy Innovation Center

Energy Innovation Center 

Located in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill District, The Energy Innovation Center is a Pittsburgh-based non-profit with a mission to engage corporate and community leaders, align workforce development and education, develop and demonstrate technology and incubate businesses to support emerging clean and sustainable energy markets. Completely renovated following LEED Platinum sustainability design guidelines, the historic 200,000-sq.-ft. building offers four unique spaces for event groups, including the 2,000-sq.-ft. Covestro Brightspace that offers spectacular views of downtown Pittsburgh.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Located just a few miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the world’s greenest public gardens that encompasses 15 acres, including a 14-room glasshouse and 23 distinct gardens. A recognized leader in sustainability, it features LEED-certified and energy-efficient buildings and plentiful spaces suitable for eventsof all shapes and sizes. These include the Special Events Hall with bamboo flooring, energy-efficient lighting systems and eco-friendly shading that is suitable for up to 350 people; the 24,350-sq. ft. Center for Sustainable Landscapes, one of the greenest buildings in the world; and the 12,000-sq. ft. Tropical Forest Conservatory. 

Tree Pittsburgh

Tree Pittsburgh Riverfront Room

As an environmental non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing community vitality by restoring and protecting the urban forest through tree planting and care, education, advocacy and land conservation, Tree Pittsburgh is an uber-sustainable campus powered by solar energy. Located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood, the property also offers the Riverfront Room on the Allegheny, a flexible, sustainably designed meeting and event space suitable for up to 70 guests that features views of the Allegheny River and a tree-lined courtyard.


Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE, listen to our latest podcast HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.