Media Kit


A new documentary showcases people making America energy-efficient again

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania – April 11, 2017

In today’s political reality, where President Trump is reversing President Obama’s climate policies and opening doors for new fossil fuel production with less environmental regulations, the latest installment of the short documentary series Sustainability Pioneers showcases an alternative way to create jobs and enhance global stability. The ninth Sustainability Pioneers episode, Home Sweet Home, connects the dots between the energy use of American homes, climate change, and the growing number of global climate refugees.

30 – 40 percent of the energy Americans use to heat and cool our buildings is wasted because of leaky buildings and inefficient systems. Besides wasting energy, residential and commercial buildings in the US are a major contributor to climate change – almost 40 percent of all the US carbon emissions come from buildings.

Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that burning fossil fuels is the biggest contributor to climate change. The carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere creates a blanket that traps heat around the planet. If we don’t take collective climate action to drastically reduce our carbon emissions, the planet will keep getting warmer – driving many species to extinction, creating more violent weather events, disrupting systems, and increasing instability worldwide.

Climate change has already forced millions of people to leave their homes. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center IDMC, “an average of 22.5 million people have been displaced each year by climate or weather-related disasters” from 2008 to 2014 – about 62,000 people every day. Weather and climate, particularly floods, accounted for the biggest increase in displacement.

 If we began to contribute to reducing the climate change, we are helping people stay in the communities they value the most”, says Vivian Loftness, professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and the green building expert interviewed in the episode.

In many European countries energy efficient, climate friendly homes are common. These low-carbon homes are popping up around the US too. The new Sustainability Pioneers episode follows a couple who is building a “passive house” – a tightly insulated low energy home – in the Pittsburgh area. The episode also visits a 100-percent electric straw bale house in Armstrong county, PA, and explores how performing an energy audit in an old home can reduce energy bills and climate pollution.

Buildings are part of our infrastructure. It’s a huge job market. If you want to employ people, you start to build the industry for making super-insulated, super-tigh, super-efficient buidings,” says Loftness.

About Sustainability Pioneers

Sustainability Pioneers is a web-based short video documentary series that showcases the new reality that is emerging as a response to climate change. The series highlights people and communities in the U.S. and in Europe taking bold steps to address climate crisis and lay a trail towards a more livable planet. Sustainability Pioneers is produced by Kirsi Jansa, a documentary filmmaker and a visiting researcher at The Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Sustainability Pioneers Advisory Board consists of energy consultant and Rachel Carson Scholar Patricia DeMarco, executive producer Kathy Knauer from the environmental radio program The Allegheny Front, documentary filmmaker and Pittsburgh Filmmakers associate professor Will Zavala, and media attorney Fritz Byers. The Sustainability Pioneers Production Team includes graphic designer Brittany Page, composer and audiovisual artist Ricardo Iamuuri, and marketing assistant Cynthia Tam.

Sustainability Pioneers is funded by The Heinz Endowments, The Fisher Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation and Roy A. Hunt Foundation. It is produced in collaboration with The Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh Filmmakers.


More information:
Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, Norwegian Refugee Council: Global Estimates 2015: People displaced by disasters

Passive House Institute 

Political Economy Institute, University of Massachusetts: The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy  
Political Economy Institute, University of Massachusetts: Green Versus Brown: Comparing the employment impacts of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and fossil fuels using an input-output model 

Political Economy Institute, University of Massachusetts: Green Growth: A U.S. Program for Controlling Climate Change and Expanding Job Opportunities 







A new short documentary on greening of the utility business

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania – October 4, 2016 – The latest installment of Sustainability Pioneers, a series of short video documentaries on climate change and climate solutions, tackles a challenge that involves all stakeholders, states, local governments, citizens and utilities: How to clean up the climate emissions of the utility business? Electricity and heating is still number one source of our greenhouse gas emissions.

The episode is available to view online at

Sustainability Pioneers: Going Fossil Free” portrays how one community, Boulder, Colorado, has been diligently changing its energy system for years – for example by trying to municipalize their privately owned utility to go green faster than the current system allows.

“Boulder’s vision is to transform from a utility model centered on selling more electrons to a new business model in which the mission is to collaborate with customers to provide options to use fewer electrons or produce and potentially share their own”, states Jonathan Koehn, Regional Sustainability Coordinator of the City of Boulder.

Boulder’s ambitious climate efforts have forced both the state and the local utility to get more serious about climate change than many other states or utilities. Utility industry is a capital intense industry, and without pressure from the grassroots level, the clean energy transition is not bound to happen as fast as needed.

“That investment wants to be returned with profit. The people who financed all of that are not eager to change quickly”, says Karl Rábago, Executive Director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center.

Some utilities are responding to climate change in a positive and inspiring way, embracing clean energy and efficiency, engaging with customers to find solutions. Unfortunately it’s a spectrum. Some utilities are responding with denial, recalcitrance, with well-funded opposition to address any action to climate change. In terms of money, political power and number of power plants, the resisters to change and climate responsibility still outnumber the innovators”.

About Sustainability Pioneers

Sustainability Pioneers is a web-based short video documentary series that provides a new, empowering way to talk about climate change. The series highlights people and communities in the U.S. and Europe taking bold steps to address climate crisis and lay a trail towards a more livable planet. “Going Fossil Free” is the 8th installment of the series.

The series is produced by Kirsi Jansa in collaboration with a production team and advisory board. Kirsi Jansa is a documentary filmmaker, international broadcast journalist and the producer of “Gas Rush Stories”, short documentaries on shale gas exploration.

Sustainability Pioneers is a powerful tool for non-profits, educators, community organizers, schools, and universities. In addition to screenings and presentations, the Sustainability Pioneers team, together with various co-hosts, organizes diverse community outreach events.







Short documentary series Sustainability Pioneers paves the way beyond Paris

Paris has spoken. The world finally has a climate deal. Yet, the real challenge remains: If we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, each country and each local community must find their own way to transition from a fossil-based economy to an economy built on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Yet, despite the magnitude of the climate crisis, public awareness and engagement with climate change has remained low in the United States (van der Linden et al., 2015Lee et al., 2015).

A short documentary series Sustainability Pioneers ( both educates people about climate change and energy transition and inspires people to take climate action. A web-based documentary series showcases ordinary people in the U.S. and in Europe who are already doing what the leaders were planning in Paris – switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy and incorporating energy efficiency measures.

In the first six episodes, each about ten minutes long, we meet a borough manager of a small town in Pennsylvania who has been able to reduce utility costs by 25 percent though energy efficiency, a small scale wind energy developer who builds and installs vertical axis wind turbines, including on top of a public market in downtown Pittsburgh, and a family who decides to go solar. One episode takes the viewer to Saerbeck, a town of 7,000 people in Germany, that produces more than 300 percent renewable energy than the town consumes. In another episode we travel to Balcombe, UK, to see how a small village said no to fracking, and works together to go fossil-free.

Sustainability Pioneers is based in southwest Pennsylvania. Future episodes will present sustainability pioneers from around the U.S.

The series is produced by documentary filmmaker Kirsi Jansa.  Jansa is a native of Finland and a  former Finnish Broadcasting Company reporter. She works in collaboration with energy consultant and a Rachel Carson Scholar Patricia DeMarco. Both Jansa and DeMarco are visiting researchers at The Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

The  Sustainability Pioneers Advisory Board consists of Joe Osborne, legal director at the Group Against Smog and Pollution in Pittsburgh (GASP), editors Sharon Walsh from PublicSource and Kathy Knauer from the environmental radio program The Allegheny Front, and media attorney Fritz Byers.

Sustainability Pioneers is funded by The Heinz Endowments, The Fisher Fund of Pittsburgh Foundation and The Roy A. Hunt Foundation. Thanks to this foundation funding, the series is available online for free.

This is what people have said about Sustainability Pioneers:

[Kirsi Jansa’s] style is solid, investigative, unbiased storytelling, and in this series she introduces the audience to a variety of our neighbors and friends who just happen to be two steps ahead of the rest of us in understanding the urgency of and who are moving more quickly forward with the transition from fossil fuel dependency to the much healthier, more sustainable, and far less costly options represented by smarter energy sources.

TIM HUDSON, Ph.D., Professor of Journalism, Point Park University


A powerful look at the opportunities and challenges facing Pittsburgh and cities around the world.


Sustainability Manager

City of Pittsburgh


Sustainability Pioneers gives a great vision of what can be done by people who have the will to create a healthy future. Each video starts with a clear vision of the problem followed by specific examples of how people work together to solve the problem.


Environmental Justice Committee

Thomas Merton Center



For more information, email Kirsi Jansa at