Plenary Speakers

SteffenAlex Steffen

World's Leading Green Futurist
Creator of bestselling Worldchanging Series


Writer Alex Steffen, known as one of the world's leading green futurists and a pioneering thinker on global sustainability, is also that rare kind of speaker who can lead his specialized field, yet explain his ideas to the rest of us in accessible, fun and inspiring ways. 

Steffen's optimistic, solutions-focused talks have wowed hundreds of audiences around the world with their combination of practical thinking and visionary insight. From the stage of the TED Conference to boardrooms of leading corporations to lecture halls in some of the world's most prestigious universities, Steffen has shown a remarkable talent for helping audiences understand the role of worldchanging ideas and trends in their own lives and work.

From 2003-2010, Steffen built his track record as a visionary by leading the pioneering website Under his guidance, the solutions-based magazine became the second-largest sustainability site on the planet. Its 12,000 articles won many of the Web's highest honors, including being a 2008 Webby Official Honoree and a winner of the Utne Independent Press Award.

Steffen's first Worldchanging book was an international best-seller, in which Al Gore remarks, in his introduction to the book, "Taken together, these solutions present a picture of a future that is not dark or catastrophic, but one that is full of hope and within our grasp." Steffen's Worldchanging 2.0, a monumental anthology focusing on cities and urban issues, garnered further critical acclaim. Earth Day founder Denis Hayes says it "might well be the most complete, compelling articulation of the possible look and feel and actual operation of a sustainable society ever written." Steffen has been named to numerous lists of leading innovators and has served as an adviser to more than 100 NGOs and businesses, exploring "bright green" strategies to help them thrive in a complex and turbulent future, and his forward-thinking approach opens a new world of sustainable possibilities to all who listen.

JoachimMitchell Joachim

Terreform ONE

Architect and designer Mitchell Joachim tackles the urban issues that are redefining our built environments and our cities: his work boldly reassesses the way our species lives together in the 21st Century. As a partner at Planetary ONE, this TED Fellow adapts sustainable ecological principles to new developments in architecture, transportation, and environmental planning. His work offers the sheer excitement of opening minds to new ways of literally building the future.

Joachim is also the Co-President of Terreform ONE, where he develops new technologies for local sustainability in energy, transportation, infrastructure, buildings, waste treatment, food, water, and media spaces. His projects are disruptive but also practical. His work on the MIT Smart Cities Car (which Time called the Best Invention of 2007) pushed the envelope of urban mobility in an intelligent way, while his Fab Tree Lab (which was exhibited at MoMA) uses grafted cells to erect structures--and to rethink the way we build.

Mitchell Joachim is an Associate Professor at both NYU and the European Graduate School, and was the Frank Gehry Chair at the University of Toronto. He has been selected for Wired's 2008 Smart List ("15 People the Next President Should Listen To") as well as Rolling Stone's 100 Agents of Change. In 2010, Popular Science named him as a visionary, envisioning "The Future of the Environment.

Mehta PhotoDr. Khanjan Mehta

Director, Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program
Instructor, Engineering Design
The Pennsylvania State University

Khanjan Mehta is the Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program at Penn State University. His professional interests include innovative system integration, high-tech entrepreneurship and international social entrepreneurship. Khanjan loves connecting concepts, people, computers and devices. A basic philosophy behind this work is the convergence of disciplines, concepts, cultures, and countries to create a freer, friendlier, and fairer and more sustainable planet. He has led social venture in Kenya, Tanzania, India, China and other countries.


Invited Speakers

Dr. Ram B. Gupta
Program Director, Energy for Sustainability Program
National Science Foundation
“Energy for Sustainability”

Dr. Arpad Horvath
Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Head, Energy, Civil Infrastructure and Climate Graduate Program
University of California, Berkeley
“ Environmental Impacts of Delivering Water”

Dr. Marija D. Ilic
Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University
"The Role o IT-Enabled Engineering in Achieving Low-Cost Green Energy Services"  

Dr. Leidy Klotz
Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
Clemson University
“ Anchoring, status-quo bias, and elegance: Irrationalities in design for energy conservation” 

Dr. Vivian Loftness
University Professor of Architecture
Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Franco Montalto
Assistant Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Drexel University
“Emerging phenomena in green infrastructure research” 

Dr. Thomas Seager
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability
Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment
Lincoln Fellow of Ethics and Sustainability
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
Arizona State University
“ Integrating Risk and Resilience Approaches to Catastrophe Management in Engineering Systems”

Dr. Charles J. Vörösmarty
Director, CUNY Environmental Crossroads Initiative
Professor and NOAA-CREST Distinguished Scientist
The City College of New York
"Twenty-first Century Earth Systems and the Hippocratic Oath"  


Panel Hosts

GBA Colorful Logo (2010).JPG  




 How are Buildings of Today Becoming the Places of Tomorrow? 

Organizations nationwide are trying to create more efficient, healthy, and high performing places, but often find it difficult to look towards tomorrow when so many things need attention today.  Engage in discussion with thought and practice leaders who are in the trenches of making and proving out decisions for reaching inspirational goals and creating cultures of change for buildings, organizations, and communities.   

Moderator:        Mike Schiller,CEO, Green Building Alliance 

Panelists:        Jon Barker, Facilities Manager, Google Pittsburgh   

                              Erica Cochran,Center for Building Performance & Diagnostics, School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University 

                              Marijke Hecht, Director of Education, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy 

                              Gary Sechler,Engineering Manager, U.S. Steel Tower, Winthrop Management   




 Sustainable Water Management: Meeting the Challenge with Green Infrastructure   

Integrated water resource management is a sustainable approach used globally to meet the vulnerability of our water resources.  However management and regulations often compete and need to be integrated across the water chain.  Solutions to manage stormwater and wastewater must protect public health and safety while being affordable to those that benefit from the water sector service.   

Moderator:   Janie French, State Director of Water Programs, PA Environmental Council  

Panelists:    Donald H. Newman, PE-  Buchart Horn Engineering  

                      Matt Graham, Principle, Landbase Systems  

                         Erin Copeland, Senior Restoration Ecologist, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy  

sustainable pittsburgh 





Conference Closing Panel
Tuesday, April 9th 3:15 pm

Host: Sustainable Pittsburgh
Panel Topic:"Presenting the Case for Crafting a Regional Energy Strategy and Plan"   

America's regions are the emerging locus for leadership in energy. With its energy prowess, our region stands primed to develop a comprehensive energy strategy and plan. Only through deliberate planning and policy can the region establish an enduring framework to unleash innovation for achieving goals that may include energy efficiency and reduced consumption, energy independence, reduced emissions and bridging to an abundant, affordable, lower carbon, and equitable energy future.

Moderator:      Court Gould, Executive Director, Sustainable Pittsburgh

Presenter:       Jane Long, retired Principal Associate Director at Large for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Fellow in the LLNL Center for Global Strategic Research

Panelists:        Greg Babe, CEO, Orbital Engineering, Inc. and former President and CEO, Bayer Corporation

                           Jeffrey Ball, Scholar-in-Residence at Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance

                           Bobby Vagt, President, The Heinz Endowments

ES2013 Abstract submission closed Thank you!