From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published December 18, 2007 06:58 PM

Pittsburgh's New Year's Ball Ornament Eco-Friendly

PITTSBURGH - Did you know that Pittsburghers ring in a green New Year? Again this year, Highmark's "The Future of Pittsburgh" ball, which is made from environmentally friendly materials, will light the sky in downtown Pittsburgh as part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's First Night celebration.

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The outer shell and the design on the ball were made from 3Form Ecoresin(TM) material and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Ecoresin is made with recycled post-consumer content and is not hazardous or toxic to the environment. LED lamps last longer and are more energy efficient than traditional light bulbs, and therefore emit less pollution into the atmosphere.

The structural steel roof platform and the aluminum framing within the ball also contain recycled post-consumer content. Steel is the most recycled product in North America because products made from recycled steel can be recycled again at the end of their useful lives.Sustainable Pittsburgh, a local nonprofit that seeks to bring sustainable solutions to communities and businesses in the Pittsburgh region, will mitigate the carbon emissions associated with lighting and lifting the ball through the purchase of carbon credits from Pennsylvania farm energy systems.

Purchasing carbon credits helps build and support new clean and renewable sources of energy, creating sustainable economic benefits for local communities. Overall, the ball will use approximately 6,000 watts of energy."Creating a healthier environment also helps to create healthier communities and healthier people," said Byron Falchetti, president of Standard Property Corporation, the real estate subsidiary of Highmark.

"The Future of Pittsburgh ball is a visible example to the city of Pittsburgh of our goal to implement sustainable, eco-friendly and green practices to help make Pittsburgh a better and healthier place to live."The ball, weighing approximately 1,000 pounds, reaches 6 feet 7 inches in diameter and touches a height of 74 feet above the roof of Penn Avenue Place in downtown Pittsburgh. The best place to view the launch of the ball will be at the Highmark Stage located at the corner of Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue.

The grand finale and countdown to midnight will begin at 10:30 p.m. with a live performance by celebrated Pittsburgh band The Clarks."Raising 'The Future of Pittsburgh' has become the biggest highlight of the First Night festivities, and we are very grateful to Highmark for spearheading this great Pittsburgh tradition," said J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. "The future of the Cultural District and Pittsburgh is bright, and there is no better place to celebrate our successes as a region than at the corner of Stanwix and Penn Avenue on New Year's Eve."A strategic objective of Highmark is to apply traditional process improvement tools like Six Sigma to the evaluation of resource consumption across the company and its effects on the environment.

Highmark's sustainable, eco-friendly, green business practices include the operation of a Silver LEED certified Data Center near Hershey, Pa., paper and utilities conservation initiatives and the use of certified green seal cleaning supplies in Highmark's facilities.As one of the leading health insurers in Pennsylvania, Highmark's mission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Based in Pittsburgh, Highmark serves 4.6 million people through the company's health care benefits business.

Highmark contributes millions of dollars to help keep quality health care programs affordable and to support community-based programs that work to improve people's health. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark's positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion. The company provides the resources to give its members a greater hand in their health.Highmark Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.


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