Going Green in Philly

Green Philly-01Environmentally friendly programs and resources are a proven way to draw people to an area. Back in 2008, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter created the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, which is committed to making Philly the greenest city in the country. It launched Greenworks Philadelphia to help make the city an even more appealing place to live, work and play.

A large part of the city’s green sustainability effort includes giving the majority of residents easy access to green spaces. As I stood with my assistant, Briana and looked on as the Mayor and other city and state officials spoke about the events that led up to the anticipated opening of the renamed Dilworth Park at the beginning of September, I was reminded of how far this city has come in just a few short years since the beginning of the Mayor’s quest for a greener city.

First, we saw solar-powered trash compactors and recycling bins spring up on every corner in the center city district. Which I love and hate at the same time. Anyone who knows me well knows I hate germs and this means I have to touch the handle to dispose of my rubbish, YUCK! 

Next, they took one lane away from my cross town “go- to” driving routes on Spruce and Pine Streets to create bike lanes that run from east to west, connecting at the west end to the ever expanding Schuylkill Banks River Trails that extends for miles to the north along the Schuylkill River.  Get your tickets now and don’t miss the official Pre-opening Fun Run on October 1st at 6p and be the first to set foot on the Schuylkill River Trail Boardwalk.

In 2013 alone, the city replaced 85,000 Traffic Signals with LED bulbs to reduce Philadelphia’s carbon footprint.

Since 2011 TreePhilly Partners has planted over 40,000 trees throughout Philadelphia and they are working hard to achieve their goal to plant over 300,000 trees by 2015!

Even the Philadelphia Eagles are “Going Green” with the addition more than 11,000 solar panels and 14 vertical axis wind turbines to offset their energy use. They are projected to provide 30 percent of the stadiums power.

Dilworth Park

For years, Dilworth Plaza (now Park) was a somewhat neglected, mostly stone and concrete open space on the western side of City Hall. A two year renovation project has now turned it into a welcoming, engaging piece of green Philadelphia real estate.

At the heart of the park amidst four groves of trees, you’ll find the Great Lawn, a sprawling open green space where future concerts, movie screenings, and many other exciting events will be held. For example, this winter the fountain will transform into a winter wonderland and an ice skating rink will be front and center and great place for me to practice my triple flip!  You can now grab a bite and dine in the park thanks to a partnership with Philly’s own Iron Chef, Jose Garces and his diner called Rosa Blanca situated on the north side of the park.

Rainwater and a Fountain

Another highlight of the new park is the programmable fountain, which features dancing jets of water that make beautiful use of recycled rainwater collected in a cistern below the park. The rain water will also be used to irrigate the park’s trees and green spaces. Collecting rainwater for irrigation and the fountain helps the city better manage its storm water, another goal of the Mayor’s Greenworks plan.

Just to put it in perspective Philadelphia Water Department has managed 3,254 rain barrels annually, which equates to 17 Olympic swimming pools worth of rain water recycled by this program! Michael Phelps thanks you PWD!

Improved Transit Access

Another component of the Mayor’s plan for a green Philly is to reduce vehicle miles traveled by 10 percent, or by about 1,100 miles per year per household. Over 500 cars have been shed from the city’s car fleet since 2003 and our car share programs are helping to assist in the Mayor’s plan to reduce the amount gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled. Another way to cut down on the amount people drive is to improve access to the city’s public transit system.

The opening of Dilworth Park didn’t just unveil a new green area and fountain. It also gave SEPTA, the city’s public transportation operator, a chance to unveil a new entrance to the subway, as well as new turnstiles that are designed to accept the soon-to-be active smartcard system.

Green programs make me smile and make Philly real estate more appealing for current residents and newcomers alike. Let’s go Philly! Get involved and become a partner in the city’s goal to make this city a sustainable and environmentally friendly destination for all.

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