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Exploring Energy Innovation at the Intel ISEF 2012

10:27AM, May 15, 2012

Student finalists and attendees of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2012 have the opportunity to attend a variety of symposiums during their week in Pittsburgh. This morning, representatives from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development led a session on energy and innovative design occurring in Pittsburgh.

The session began with a series of fun facts about Pittsburgh. Did you know Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice, Italy? There are 446 bridges in the city limits, and 1900 in the county. Pittsburgh has also been the setting for several popular movies, including “The Dark Knight Rises” and background scenes for the recently released “Avengers,” and was the place both Bingo and the smiley emoticon were created. But perhaps most famously, Pittsburgh is known as a home of industry and energy. Multiple companies in Pittsburgh focus on the energy sector- whether coal, natural gas, nuclear, or renewable energy. Recently, Pittsburgh has also become known as a leader in the green building movement.

Molly Steinwald from the Phipps Conservatory described the recent “greening” of the conservatory’s buildings as well as the construction of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, which will meet the “Living Building Challenge,” a step beyond LEED certification. Features of the renovation include building the Welcome Center partially underground to assist with temperature control and meet historic preservation standards (the Conservatory was initially founded in 1893), creating a multi-use permeable paving lot covered with grass, a heat condensation system under the sidewalks to assist with melting snow, automatic weather monitoring and root zone heating systems in the greenhouses, and more.

In addition to the Conservatory, the Tower at PNC Plaza is a 40-story skyscraper currently under construction, which is expected to be the most sustainable skyscraper in the U.S. when completed in 2015. Travis Mitchell from PNC Bank discussed the anticipated Platinum LEED certification achieved through sustainability strategies such as creating a double facade, orienting the building to catch sunlight, an open airflow plan with automatic window and door controls, and drawing on an underground source of water to assist with cooling the building.

Eighty-three projects were entered into the Energy and Transportation category at this year’s Intel ISEF. Find out a full listing of the finalists in the online Intel ISEF 2012 program.

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