Greenworks Philadelphia was released in spring of 2009, and in the first year of implementation the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and our partners made great strides toward making Philadelphia more sustainable.
The Greenest City in America: That’s the ambitious goal that Mayor Michael A. Nutter has set for Philadelphia. Reaching it will be an opportunity to reposition and repurpose Philadelphia as a city of the future.With Greenworks Philadelphia as its guide, 21st century Philadelphia will face the challenges and opportunities created by recent global shifts and reposition itself as a city of the future.
The 2011 Progress Report details the measurable successes already achieved in Philadelphia towards reaching this sustainability goal.
A few highlights from the report:
- SEPTA: SEPTA purchased 472 hybrid diesel buses, exceeding the Greenworks goal of 440. All of these will be in service by 2012. In addition, SEPTA officially adopted its first ever sustainability plan, SEP-TAINABLE: The Route to Regional Sustainability. The plan outlines twelve specific sustainability goals set for 2015.
- Trees: Since 2008, nearly 40,000 trees have been planted in Philadelphia. In addition, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society announced an exciting new environmental initiative this spring called Plant One Million, an ambitious effort to add one million trees in the 13 counties covering southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
- Solar Energy: The city installed its first solar project, a 250 kW array at PWD’s Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant in spring 2011. Planning for a second large solar installation on city-owned land is already underway.
- Electric Cars: The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability won a $140,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to install 20 electric vehicle charging stations. Eighteen of the chargers, which the City will install in surface lots and garages, will serve PhillyCarShare electric vehicles, available for any of PhillyCarShare’s 12,000+ members to drive. The remaining two chargers will be open to the public for use by electric vehicle owners.
- Recycling: In the first quarter of 2011, the curb-side recycling rate was just over 20%, four times higher than the 2006 rate. Some sections of the city achieved diversion rates over 30%, and many neighborhoods have seen double-digit increases in recycling in the past year. Plus, last year, the Streets Department collected over 189 tons of public recycling.
And: a brand new, 60,000-square foot recycling center officially opened this spring in Northeast Philadelphia; it can sort and process more than 20,000 tons of recyclable newspaper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and plastic each month, and it received LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
We’ve got details on parks, green roofs, bikes and more, below.
- Parks: Since 2008, the City and its partners have committed to creating approximately 100 new acres of public green space. The City established the first two new neighborhood parks in over a decade, Hawthorne Park at 12th and Catherine Streets and Julian Abele Park at 22nd and Carpenter Streets. The city has selected another 105 acres of park sites, under the Green 2015 plan, and is working to secure funding for those projects.
- Local food: The Philadelphia Department of Public Health received a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish Get Healthy Philly which, in partnership with The Food Trust, opened four farmers markets in underserved neighborhoods in 2010 and plans to open an additional six in 2011.
This initiative increased food stamp redemption at markets by over 120%. In addition, Get Health Philly has recruited more than 500 corner stores into the “Healthy Corner Store Initiative,” which involves adding nutritious products to inventory.
- Bikes: Philadelphia was ranked the #1 big city for bike commuting per capita in the U.S., a whopping two times as high as the next-best major city, Chicago. To that end, Mayor Nutter has announced that the city will be adding two critical new bike lanes to Center City in June.
Not only that, but in 2010 the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Environmental Council secured a historic $17.2 million in Recovery funding to enhance the city’s off-road bicycle and pedestrian trail network. As of May 2011 planning for 21 miles of trails is complete; five projects are under construction, three will break ground this summer and four are in the design phase.
- LED Lights: The city is converting 55,000 yellow and green incandescent traffic signals to energy efficient LEDs.
- Roads: This spring, the city installed its first porous pavement on Percy Street in South Philadelphia. The new paving approach not only reduces the amount of stormwater that enters the sewer system, it may also result in quicker melting of snow and ice from the street, which increases the life of the pavement and reduces the amount of road salt required to keep the street clear and safe throughout the winter. See rendering above for a vision of what a green street could look like.
- Green roofs: 52 green roofs have been constructed in Philadelphia covering 459,368 square feet, 16 are under construction currently and 18 green roofs more are planned, for a total of 21.15 acres of green roofs. In fact, Philadelphia came in at #4 on the annual list of top 10 U.S. Green Roof Cities.
- Green jobs: A major focus of the Greenworks program is to double the number of low- and high-skill green jobs so as to help sustainability drive economic development in Philadelphia. Accordingly, in September 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy selected the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) to serve as the new national energy research and development hub. Led by Penn State University, more than 70 academic, commercial, financial, and community partners joined forces to secure $129 million in federal grants and create GPIC at the Navy Yard in South. This is a big deal!
At the Energy Coordinating Agency Green Jobs Training Center, opened in March 2010, 978 workers received training as weatherization workers, building analysts, and insulation.
Future initiatives to look out for include:
- Incorporating energy conservation in future building maintenance contracts
- Including feedback on energy use on utility bills
- Exploring ways to capture water at Fairmount Park and Flat Rock Dams (on the Schuylkill River)
- Creating an urban agriculture workforce strategy to grow green jobs
- Looking into the implementation of a bike-sharing program
Read more about Philadelphia’s ongoing green efforts here.
Greenworks Philadelphia [Mayor’s Office of Sustainability]