Department of Energy

How Construction Workers are Helping to Build the Clean Energy Economy

July 24, 2014

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U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz speaks with tower construction workers Ed Zona, Al Williams and Jeff Reick (left to right) in Pittsburgh on Monday, July 21, 2014. | Photo courtesy of PNC.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz speaks with tower construction workers Ed Zona, Al Williams and Jeff Reick (left to right) in Pittsburgh on Monday, July 21, 2014. | Photo courtesy of PNC.

Century Steel Ironworker Al Williams escorts Secretary Moniz to the top floor of the construction site to show the work he and his team are completing during a visit to Pittsburgh on Monday, July 21, 2014.

Century Steel Ironworker Al Williams escorts Secretary Moniz to the top floor of the construction site to show the work he and his team are completing during a visit to Pittsburgh on Monday, July 21, 2014.

While in Pittsburgh earlier this week, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stopped by a construction site to speak with some of the all-union workers who are building the Tower at PNC Plaza, a super-efficient 33-story office building in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.

Energy efficiency is often overlooked when talking about America’s clean energy future, but it’s one of the best ways to reduce energy waste and lower our carbon footprint. With buildings accounting for 40 percent of America’s energy use, constructing more efficient work spaces is helping to reduce the country’s carbon emissions.

Most importantly, energy efficiency is a win-win-win. Businesses are increasingly incorporating energy efficient technologies to reduce their operating costs and create a better work environment for their employees. Of course, this new construction is also supporting well-paid, highly-skilled jobs that cannot be sent overseas.

Before touring the site, Secretary Moniz met with some of the workers who are building this advanced, super-efficient office tower. Over coffee and donuts, the Secretary spoke with Al Williams, a third-generation Ironworker with Century Steel who has logged about 70,000 hours of work over 36 years in the Pittsburgh area; Jeff Reick, a general foreman for Permasteelisa with 16 years experience as an Ironworker; and Ed Zona, a crane operator for 23 years, working for PJ Dick. Secretary Moniz learned about some of the skills and specialized tradecraft they are bringing to the project, how important continued investment in construction and energy infrastructure is to their livelihoods, and their shared desire to see this continue in Pittsburgh and across the country.  

The Secretary noted that the energy sector has been a bright spot during the recent economic downturn and expressed his expectation that this would only continue as the economic recovery accelerates.

After coffee, Williams, Reick, Zona and their co-workers joined Secretary Moniz and Nana Wilberforce, PNC’s Energy Manager, to tour the construction site and see some of the state-of-the-art technologies being incorporated into the PNC Tower project. With its double-skin façade allowing for increased airflow, the tower is expected to ventilate naturally for almost half the year, consuming 50 percent less energy than an average office building. And 90 percent of the building will be illuminated by natural daylight due to an innovative design with floor-to-ceiling windows and narrow floor plates.

PNC is among the country’s corporate leaders who are taking President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge, a call to businesses, universities and state and local governments to save energy throughout their buildings. The company has committed to work toward a 30 percent energy reduction goal in 26 million square feet by 2020 across 3,200 properties, both retail bank branches and corporate office space, such as the Tower at PNC Plaza.

Learn more about the Better Buildings Initiative on Energy.gov.