Dr. Aurora Sharrard is the Director of Sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh, tasked with enabling the Pitt Sustainability Plan, which formalizes decades of university-led and partnered green initiatives. In pursuit of the Plan’s 61 measurable goals, she leads Pitt’s Office of Sustainability, cross-departmental sustainability staff, and University-wide sustainability strategy, activities, policies, collaborations, and partnerships. Building on past progress and successes, Dr. Sharrard and her colleagues work daily across the spectrum of sustainability, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, incorporating sustainability into the curriculum, providing access and opportunity to all, transparently communicating progress, and embedding a culture of sustainability into the University of Pittsburgh so that it’s a sustainability leader in every scale, from campus to international.
Prior to joining the University, Dr. Sharrard worked at Green Building Alliance (GBA) for 11 years, ultimately serving as its Executive Director. She led the nonprofit in advancing innovation in the built environment by empowering people to create environmentally, economically, and socially vibrant places. GBA is one of the oldest regional green building and organizations in the United States, with a focus on innovative, evidence-based, and collaborative work throughout Western Pennsylvania.
In her time at GBA, Dr. Sharrard co-founded the Pittsburgh 2030 District, which boasts 500+ buildings aspiring towards measured high performance of 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by the year 2030. The University of Pittsburgh was a Founding Property Partner of the Pittsburgh 2030 District’s Oakland boundary – and embraced 2030 Challenge goals University-wide with the Pitt Sustainability Plan. A nationally recognized green building and sustainability expert, Dr. Sharrard has also provided strategic and technical support to innumerable regional green building and sustainability projects, most notably Hazelwood Green, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
From 2007 forward, Dr. Sharrard led several GBA programs, including Pittsburgh Climate Initiative (PCI), Pittsburgh Green Story, DASH, and Product Innovation Grants. Dr. Sharrard convened PCI and its Higher Education Climate Consortium (HECC) for a number of years, helping deliver three Pittsburgh Climate Action Plans and two citywide greenhouse gas inventories; Pitt remains an active HECC partner. In 2017, Dr. Sharrard relaunched Pittsburgh Green Story, a media-focused effort to promote the region’s sustainability achievements and advantages. Through 2012, Aurora spearheaded the GBA-led national conversation to build DASH: Database for Analyzing Sustainable and High Performance Buildings. This evidence-based software as a service worked to provide building industry professionals with building performance information that enabled better triple bottom line decision-making about building design, construction, and operations. With GBA’s Product Innovation Grant program, Aurora led award of $1.2 million to 24 recipients working to commercialize innovative green building products across Pennsylvania.
Dr. Sharrard serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services’ Board of Directors, Will Allen Foundation’s Board of Directors, the International Living Future Institute’s Pittsburgh Living Product Hub Advisory Council, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development’s Community & Sustainability Committee. She also has multiple academic and nonacademic publications of her own and still peer reviews for funders and academic journals.
Aurora holds a Master’s and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in Green Design from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Tulane University. She has previously been recognized with the Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 Award, Pittsburgh Business Times Women in Energy Award and BusinessWomen First Award, The Incline’s Who’s Next: Environment and Energy list, and 40 Under 40 Pennsylvania Environmental Leaders Award. Dr. Sharrard was also a finalist for the Greater Pittsburgh Athena Young Professional Award and is an alumna of Leadership Pittsburgh. She is a LEED AP BD+C and is Living Future Accredited (LFA).
Aurora lives in Pittsburgh with her husband Jesse and sons, Angstrom and Faraday. She loves breakfast, enjoys costumes, and looks forward to someday completing renovations on her 114-year-old house.