PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Today is Earth Day and Pittsburgh has made huge strides in becoming more environmentally-conscious over the last few years.

The morning rain didn’t stop volunteers from donating their time for projects throughout the city today.

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KDKA’s Christine D’Antonio Reports:

Organizers of Pittsburgh Earth Day say this year’s celebration is the largest the city has ever had. Pittsburgh has come a long way from a smoke-filled skyline to one of the greener cities in the country.

From Macy’s storefronts to Market Square, Mellon Square Park and Schenley Park, today, Pittsburgh joined the country in celebrating Earth Day.

Organizers said there are more ways that people can appreciate how far the city has come and where it’s going.

“I was hoping when we put this together that we could reach different populations, different demographics in the city and motivate them to become more sustainable in their home and in their business,” Ronda Zegarelli, of Aerobatique Creative, said.

From the LEED certified Convention Center that’s been around for over a decade, to the tower at PNC Plaza, which is under construction and touts itself as the world’s greenest skyscraper, Pittsburgh is doing what it can to be innovative.

“The buildings are as green as possible with the way that they’re being constructed and it’s a very walkable city. The new bike paths make it easy to get around on a bike and the public transportation is really great. People can make a difference here in Pittsburgh,” Sara Hess, of Easy Street Promotions, said.

“Our goal is to really see if we can peak somebody’s interest somewhere to get them engaged to get them thinking about Earth Day and environmental issues and take the next step,” Pittsburgh Earth Day Green Consultant Greg DiMedio said.

Wednesday morning’s rain ended just in time for the opening of the Earth Day Festival in Market Square, sponsored by the EverPower wind energy company.

Company spokesman Kevin Sheen says the festival encourages people to do “one more thing.”

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KDKA’s Dave Crawley Reports:

“We want to show people how easy it is to do one more thing to help the environment,” he explains.

Vendors and non-profits showed visitors many ways to do “one more thing.”

Eric Casteel produces solar panels locally, with a company called Solarcast.

“Everybody looks at Pittsburgh and says, ‘Boy, we don’t have enough days of sun,'” Casteel says. “But we use that to our advantage, because we tell folks, if we can make it work here in Pittsburgh, we can make it work anywhere.”

The day was punctuated by a mix of environmental protests and a visit by Gov. Tom Wolf.

“Healthy Ride” offered a one-month BikeShare membership to whoever can pedal the bike the slowest.

With more than 30 vendors, supporters say the environmental fervor has returned to the level of that first Earth Day, 45 years ago.

“I think we use Earth Day as a time to kind of come together, re-energize, re-focus, and network with other like-minded individuals to learn how to work together,” Sheen said.

The Earth Day events will take place across the city today and will wrap up tonight with a sustainability soiree at the Fairmont Hotel.

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