Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


A Green Station Came to Bedford Square

From the start, everyone was on board for a green building.

(click thumbnail)Photos by Ed MasseryThis article appeared in The Cornerstone, a publication of the Green Building Alliance,, and is used with permission.

The initial thing Lee Ferraro asks first-time visitors to do when entering the new WYEP(FM) community broadcast building is to take a deep breath.

“What do you smell?” he asks. The correct answer is, “Nothing.”

In this healthy, LEED Silver-rated studio, attention to green building is evident in everything from non-toxic finishing materials to a flood of daylight.

[LEED refers to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. Ferraro said WYEP’s Community Broadcast Center in Pittsburgh was named the nation’s first LEED-certified green radio station by the U.S. Green Building Council.]

(click thumbnail)Photos by Ed Massery“This project is simpatico with our mission of improving the quality of life in the region,” says Ferraro, WYEP’s station manager.

“Building green is building quality and it fits into our culture. Everyone who works here is into energy savings.”

Jeans and wheat

Another fit for the adult alternative station’s philosophy: ceilings made of recycled blue jeans.

To minimize the impact on the environment, recycled materials are used throughout the building, from linoleum floors of linseed oil and flour, to wheat board for sub-floors and as a wood substitute. Additionally, WYEP chose to reuse office equipment wherever possible from their old headquarters instead of buying new.

When at the end of its lease and feeling squeezed in its 3,000-square-foot office space on the other end of East Carson Street, WYEP’s management and board opted to build new in nearby historic Bedford Square.
Case StudyFacts about WYEP from the Green Building Alliance

Sustainable Sites:

  • Close proximity to a multitude of local busways
  • Bicycle storage and shower facilities for employees who prefer alternative transportation
  • Reflective roof designed to reduce heat island effect
  • Light pollution reduction
  • Educational signage as well as educational tours are available to visitors of the facility

Water Efficiency:

  • 30 percent water use reduction through the use of waterless urinals and high-efficiency units

Energy & Atmosphere:

  • Project estimated to perform over 20 percent better than ASHRAE 90.1-1999 requirements
  • No HCFC-based refrigerants or Halons
  • 100 percent of project’s energy consumption is purchased Tradable Renewable Certificates

Indoor Environmental Quality:

  • IAQ management plan during construction and as future policy
  • CO2 monitoring system installed in conjunction with operation procedures
  • Operable windows and fans increase ventilation effectiveness
  • Finish materials with low-level VOCs improve indoor air, and policy in place to meet this standard for all future work
  • Direct line-of-sight views 91 percents of all space occupied

Materials & Resources:

  • Over 89 percent of on-site generated construction waste was diverted from landfill
  • Use of local materials and materials with recycled content reduces total energy used in material production

From the start, everyone was on board for a green building. After all, this is the listener-supported radio station that produces the “Allegheny Front,” an environmental news program that urges listeners to act responsibly.

Further motivation came from a $500,000 building grant from The Heinz Endowments to support the station’s green building objective. The initial goal of a LEED Silver-certified building received an additional incentive from the Kresge Foundation, which stepped forward with a potential green bonus grant of $150,000 to achieve the Silver rating.


The WYEP crew was off to a good start with its new location, an urban site with existing water, sewage and power service that was within 100 yards of mass transit and 250 yards of a bike path.

Before starting construction, two old buildings on the site had to be demolished. Instead of clogging up a landfill, 85 percent of the materials from the buildings were hauled off to Construction Junction (Pittsburgh’s only non-profit building materials reuse retailer) or diverted elsewhere and sold for reuse.

To ensure a smooth design process, the staff met regularly with the design team of an architect, green building contractor and management.

“It was very important that everyone understood why we were doing certain things,” says Ferraro, “and every goal of ours needed to be integrated since every single decision impacts other things. Everyone needed to understand so they could not only contribute ideas but also incorporate others’ ideas.”

That same consideration extended to the neighborhood. To ensure good external relations, WYEP met several times with a neighborhood design review committee that cheered the decision to add ample first-level parking below the building to avoid placing a further burden on already crowded streets.

The building’s interior design was feasible, smart and efficient in every way.

“Much of what we did there was good commonsense planning in terms of arranging spaces so folks working at desks the majority of the day received the most access to light and views,” says architect Kevin Gannon of dggp. “No one sits in the studios for eight hours, so they’re grouped together in the center of the building.”

Big savings

The studios were designed to be “floating” — literally unconnected for acoustic isolation — which allowed them to take advantage of different types of insulation.

“We combined techniques for floating studios with insulated floors, so it was sort of a two-fer,” continues Gannon. “That’s what we tried to do all over the place — obtain multiple benefits from a single design element. It directly impacts the bottom line.”

As much as possible, materials were shipped from within 200 miles of the site, including up to 90 percent of the steel, which was trucked in from Rankin.

Work stations feature individual temperature controls, while CO2 monitors on thermostats reopen roof vents if the air gets dirty. Operable windows throughout the building allow for fresh breezes, as well as a sense of environmental control.

Initial energy models calculated a 25 percent energy savings for a 13,000-square-foot green building vs. a conventional one. Instead, the operations budget demonstrates a savings of slightly more than 50 percent, says a proud Ferraro.

“It’s a great project in terms of a building in an urban setting meeting goals and fitting into historic Bedford Square,” offers Gannon.

And now, through WYEP’s education outreach program, popular tours show visitors the inner workings of a radio station, from broadcast studios to CD storage rooms, while, throughout the whole, green features and an environmental message are clearly conveyed.

Tell Radio World about your green efforts. Write to [email protected].