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About the ASPN Initiative

As national and international economies shift to cleaner, low-carbon products and solutions, the Appalachian region - western Pennsylvania, northeast Ohio and West Virginia - is well-positioned to benefit from a changing market.


The Appalachian Sustainable Products Network (ASPN) is an initiative being designed to equip Upper Appalachia to meet increasing residential and commercial sector demand for the products and materials used to construct, renovate, maintain, and operate healthy, energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure.


The project seeks to prepare the region to lead in designing and deploying the products, technologies, and services that deliver improved energy and water efficiency, increase on-site renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, and connect buildings to a cleaner grid.


By strengthening the reliability and growing the scope of the region’s manufacturing supply chain in green building products, the ASPN will contribute to the regeneration of Upper Appalachia as it transitions from the extractive industries that once fueled its economy.


ASPN’s market analysis and pilot program will be completed this year and we will immediately work to pivot to implementation. The market analysis includes data mapping and a market study analysis of the regional product and supply chain ecosystem. The resulting analysis will identify gaps and opportunities to connect the producers, suppliers and manufacturers – big and small – involved in producing products and clean energy technologies critical to the buildings and infrastructure sector. The pilot program will provide opportunities for producers and manufacturers to learn about and potentially pursue life cycle assessments (LCA), training and certifications for their materials and products. 


This will enable local manufacturers to develop products with less environmental impact, creating new jobs and enabling them to pursue business with builders, architects, designers and developers looking to deploy green building practices in their projects. 


What are the goals of ASPN?


  • Strengthen the region’s resiliency by growing domestic manufacturing and assembly and piloting new technologies for decarbonizing the built environment

  • Create a strong, reliable regional supply chain for products that support healthy, high-performing buildings (i.e., homes, schools, businesses, and cultural institutions) 

  • Create an innovative economy that is intricately connected to regional markets

  • Transform and reposition Appalachia as it emerges from a past marked by the rise and fall of extractive industry, and the social, economic and environmental toll left in its wake

  • Grow economic, workforce and skills training opportunities

  • Ensure Upper Appalachia does not lose out on rapidly expanding opportunities in the residential and commercial green building sectors

  • Prepare the next generation of manufacturing business owners for the new economy


Why are these goals important?


Upper Appalachia is a place of authenticity, pride and resilience. These attributes can be seen in the tenacious entrepreneurs and faculty who are tackling legacy infrastructure challenges by leveraging next generation technologies, supply chain insights, materials and energy production capabilities. 


The people of Appalachia are strong, but the region is losing population and talent as young people depart and local business owners retire.  It is a region rich in assets but lacking in coordination as it works to reinvent itself in a changing economy.


People need hope to stay, and even the most experienced companies need assistance in identifying new market opportunities, supply chain development, and resources to support the development of new IP.  


This project presents an opportunity to continue Upper Appalachia’s economic transformation by creating the products and technologies needed to meet the very real challenges presented by climate change.


Who will benefit from the project?


This collaborative effort stands to positively impact individuals, communities and local economies by providing opportunities for workforce development and other education programming that supports the manufacturing of sustainable and regenerative building products.  


By creating a supply chain of products with a lifecycle that starts in Upper Appalachia, this project will benefit local economies, communities, and residents, including:

  • Producers

  • Manufacturers

  • Job seekers

  • Entrepreneurs/Startups

  • Building Owners

  • AECD community

  • Families


Who is leading this initiative?


The initial phase of this initiative is being coordinated by Green Building Alliance of Pittsburgh, in partnership with West Virginia University, including WVU Extension and Vantage Ventures; Pittsburgh-based Catalyst Connection; and the Youngstown Business Incubator and BRITE Energy Innovators in Ohio. 


ASPN is funded by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) through ARC’s Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE), which drives large-scale economic transformation through multi-state collaborative projects across Appalachia, together with match funding support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, a regional philanthropy serving West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Upper Appalachian Region

The Upper Appalachian region, encompassing West Virginia, parts of Pennsylvania, and Ohio, holds significant potential for growth in the renewable building materials and green building industries. Abundant natural resources, including forests and agricultural lands, offer a rich source of raw materials for sustainable construction. Moreover, the region's skilled workforce, coupled with its historical expertise in traditional industries like timber and mining, provides a solid foundation for transitioning to environmentally friendly practices. Additionally, growing awareness and demand for eco-friendly construction methods and materials present lucrative opportunities for businesses in the region to thrive and contribute to a more sustainable future.

ASPN is a Partnership Of

Green Building Alliance
Vantage Ventures
West Virginia University
Catalyst Connection
Youngstown Business Incubator
BRITE Energy Innovators
Bridgeway Capital

With Support From

Appalachian Regional Commission
Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
Fourth Economy

Want to help position our region to better capture the $83B Sustainable Building market?

Are you a builder, building owner, or building products manufacturer? We are seeking input to assess potential workforce demand within the sustainable building, development, and associated clean energy sectors. The survey takes approximately 5 minutes, and will provide valuable insights to inform the development of future resources.

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