Group offers tours of former vocational school for World Environment Day

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Pittsburgh) joined with the board of Pittsburgh Green Innovators (PGI) today to host tours of the former Connelley Vocational School, which they say will soon be converted into a ‘green’ education facility.

The tours also coincide with World Environment Day.

“We’re like the United Nations of ‘green’ for the Pittsburgh region,” Ferlo said. “We represent the full spectrum of sustainability by reinforcing and advancing green opportunities through collaboration.”

PGI is a newly formed non-profit, with the mission of growing a green economy and community by collaboratively leveraging regional strengths through innovation, education, workforce development, and cultivation of sustainable business opportunities. Transforming Connelley into a center for green education, training, research, and business development is the group’s first major initiative.

The tours were held on June 10, beginning at 11 a.m. at Connelley Vocational School, 1501 Bedford Avenue, in Pittsburgh. The tours featured presentations, architectural design displays, and Q&A sessions with board members.

“This project exemplifies and amplifies the push to build local economy through historic preservation and green development strategies,” Ferlo said. “Our board envisions Connelley as the future site of the Pittsburgh region’s premier environmental living, learning, and earning facility.”

The PGI board is a mix of public, private, education and labor representatives who have aligned to support this shared vision.

Connelley Vo-Tech was built in 1930 as a pre-cursor to the New Deal era, closed in 2004 by Pittsburgh Public Schools, and is now under lease by PGI. It sits on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Pride Street, directly above and adjacent to the Pittsburgh Penguins-owned 28-acre site. The 233,822 square foot Classical Revival building is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“Capital fundraising efforts are on track to purchase the facility and begin phase-one upgrades in the near future, which will include deep energy retrofits, the purchase of alternative energy production equipment, and costs associated with LEED design and certification,” Ferlo added. “There is broad agreement the success of the Connelley project is critical to the growth of the green economy in Pittsburgh.”