Philadelphia

United States
Mayor Jim Kenney, Elected 2016

Case Studies

The origins of the Building Energy Benchmarking Ordinance lie in Greenworks Philadelphia, a comprehensive and ambitious sustainability plan announced by the Mayor of Philadelphia in 2009 to make Philadelphia ‘the greenest city in America’ by 2015. The plan comprises 15 measurable targets and 164 initiatives encompassing five specific areas: energy, environment, equity, economy and engagement. 

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In Focus City Reports: Philadelphia

June 4, 2014 Philadelphia

The In Focus city reports provide valuable insight into the efforts of the world's leading cities to become more sustainable. This report has been developed with C40's official reporting partner, CDP Cities, and AECOM, using data submitted through CDP's reporting platform. It conveys information about how Philadelphia perceives its climate risk, measures key climate change-related data, and manages climate action.

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In March 2011, President Obama and President Rousseff announced the creation of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JIUS), an innovative public-private partnership for catalyzing investment in sustainable urban infrastructure and expanding markets for clean technology, products and services. Since its launch, the JIUS has served as a platform for identifying and overcoming barriers to investment and deployment of sustainable infrastructure.

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Stormwater Utility Rate Structuring

January 10, 2013 Philadelphia

As Philadelphia's stormwater management costs increase, it has become more important to the City to receive payment for providing stormwater service. Historically, the charge for municipal stormwater service has been based on the volume of drinking water being used by a property, which is often not representative of true stormwater costs and results in losses for the City.

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Transparency Policies and Public Reporting

January 10, 2013 Philadelphia

Transparency policies and public reporting are considered essential for responsive and participatory governing structures. In response to a growing demand from citizens, governments have employed a number of strategies to expand transparency policies and reporting structures. Some of these efforts include partnering with other communities or nations on a public commitment, collaborating with industry that is on the leading edge of developing digital infrastructure and data management systems, to simply making government information more accessible through regularly updated public platforms.

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SEPTAinable Transit Sustainability Plan

January 10, 2013 Philadelphia

"SEPTAinable: The Route to Regional Sustainability" is the sustainability plan for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which provides public transit for five Pennsylvania counties, including Philadelphia. SEPTA developed this plan with the goal of streamlining resources and maximizing investments in order to enable its transit system, the sixth largest in the nation, to provide a foundation for regional sustainability improvements.

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Green Streets and Alleys

January 10, 2013 Philadelphia

Communities across the country are realizing the green potential of their streets. Streets and sidewalks can be the largest single category of public impervious cover in urbanized areas. To mitigate the impact of this impervious area, a number of communities, including Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and Philadelphia, have developed green street and alley programs to provide green stormwater management, while maintaining the primary function of the street for vehicles and pedestrians.

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Philadelphia Sustainability Plan—Greenworks

January 10, 2013 Philadelphia

In Mayor Michael Nutter's January 2008 inaugural address, he pledged to make Philadelphia the number one green city in America. To make good on his pledge, he created the Mayor's Office of Sustainability early in his first term as mayor. The Mayor's Office of Sustainability spent a year researching municipal sustainability, talking with residents, and drafting Greenworks Philadelphia, the City's comprehensive sustainability plan. Greenworks was released in 2009 and is in its fourth year of implementation.

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"Green City, Clean Waters"

January 10, 2013 Philadelphia

"Green City, Clean Waters" is Philadelphia's 25-year plan to protect and enhance the City's watersheds by managing stormwater primarily with innovative green infrastructure. As the City agency charged with ensuring compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) developed "Green City, Clean Waters" to reduce its Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), manage its stormwater runoff and associated pollution, and provide a clear pathway to a sustainable future by using green stormwater infrastructure systems that assist or mimic natural processes.

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In 2011, the City of Philadelphia installed a 250 KW solar array at the Water Department's Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant. The system generates 300,000 KWh annually, or enough to power 28 homes. This energy savings from this installation will prevent approximately 220 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted annually.

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Through the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act or GESA, the City of Philadelphia engaged a qualified Energy Service Company (ESCO) to determine the feasibility of energy conservation measures to be implemented in the City's "Quadplex" buildings (City Hall, Municipal Services Building, One Parkway, and the Criminal Justice Center).

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Hybrid Diesel Buses

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The City of Philadelphia is using hybrid buses to improve air quality and reduce pollution. Between 2009 and 2012, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) purchased 440 hybrid diesel buses. For calendar years 2012 through 2015, SEPTA plans to add 285 new hybrid diesel buses.

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Queen Lane

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Water Department installed Philadelphia's first stormwater bumpouts, or landscaped curb extensions, on Queen Lane in East Falls in 2011. Runoff from the street is diverted into the bumpouts, where it infiltrates into the soil instead of entering the city's storm sewers. In addition to managing stormwater, bumpouts can help to calm traffic and may also keep pedestrians safer by reducing the street crossing distance when they are located at crosswalks.

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PWD Biogas Cogeneration Facility

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

In 2012, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the company Ameresco, Inc. announced an agreement to develop and maintain a cogeneration facility at PWD's Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant. This project will use digesters to generate 5.6 MW of thermal energy and electricity from biogas, which occurs as a byproduct of the plant's wastewater treatment.

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Green Buildings at the Navy Yard

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

Every building developed in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, a rapidly developing area, is required to meet and will be registered for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The Navy Yard is home to three completed LEED certified buildings and, pending completion and/or review, will be home to four more.

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Percy Street

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The 800 block of South Percy Street in South Philadelphia showcases the city's first porous green street. The street required excavation for a new sewer, which provided the opportunity to replace the street surface with porous asphalt. Philadelphia streets needing similar reconstruction in the future will be considered for porous application.

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Herron Playground

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

At Herron Playground, the Philadelphia Water Department collaborated with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the City's Capital Program Office to design and construct green stormwater infrastructure systems as part of a playground renovation. The existing basketball court was transformed into a porous asphalt court with stone storage underneath it to manage stormwater runoff from two nearby streets.

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Greenfield School

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

Greenfield Elementary School is a model of sustainable site improvement and community involvement in Philadelphia. Sustainable improvements at Greenfield, which were completed between 2009 and 2010, include a stormwater management system with two indigenous Pennsylvania woodland forest rain gardens, porous pavement, permeable recycled play surface, an agriculture zone, and solar shading.

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George W. Nebinger School

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) have joined together to advance green stormwater infrastructure in Philadelphia while educating students and local residents. Efforts at Nebinger will focus on using green stormwater infrastructure as a classroom, field, and laboratory teaching tool for students and the community.

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Columbus Square

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The stormwater planters at Columbus Square are the first of their kind to be installed by the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), converting a portion of Reed Street into a green street. PWD will use the lessons learned from this project to refine stormwater planter designs and their implementation.

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American Street

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The American Street corridor is an historical industrial center in North Philadelphia. Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) has designated the entire corridor and surrounding neighborhood as a Stormwater Management Enhancement District. PWD will be working with a consultant team and the community to develop a comprehensive stormwater improvements plan to maximize the amount of runoff captured.

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BigBelly Trash Compactors

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

In 2009, Philadelphia replaced 700 public wire trash baskets with 500 BigBelly-brand solar trash compactors. These bins lower the number of trips needed to collect public waste by using solar energy to compact waste while it is in the bin. This allowed the City to save money from reduced collection costs and fuel use.

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Big Green Block

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The goal of the Big Green Block project was to transform the sites of the Shissler Recreation Center and the Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and the surrounding area into the biggest, greenest block in Philadelphia. This project addresses multiple aspects of sustainability, including significant stormwater management systems, throughout the site.

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Energy Service Company (ESCO) Model

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The ESCO model was developed to recoup the savings from implementing more energy efficient strategies onto commercial and industrial properties. Broadly, the ESCO model can be especially attractive to those considering structural rehabilitation of existing buildings that also focus on energy efficiency retrofits.

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Sustainable Public-Private Loan Strategy

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

Public-private loan structures can support sustainability projects that might not otherwise take place. Loans may be privately financed and publicly administered, publicly offered to private entities to fund activities on private land, privately aggregated for activity on public land, or use some other combination of public and private resources to achieve sustainability goals.

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Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

As is evident in major cities around the United States, TIF can be a valuable public finance tool for redevelopment projects. Establishing a TIF program allows the city to invest selected new property tax dollars into the neighborhood from which they came, instead of into the city's General Fund, for a defined period (typically 20 years). TIF funds are used to leverage public funds to promote private sector activity in a targeted district or area.

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Climate and Green Bonds

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

Climate and green bonds are fixed-income financial instruments that are issued in order to raise capital for the implementation of environmental projects, often climate change mitigation- or adaptation-related activities or renewable or energy efficiency projects, and therefore allow investors to report to their members on how their secure investments are also contributing to addressing environmental challenges

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Stormwater Credit Program

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Stormwater Regulations provide the legal measures for implementing stormwater billing. The Stormwater Credits program is designed to provide incentives to nonresidential and condominium property owners to implement and maintain functional Stormwater Management Projects (SMPs) to help the city meet its stormwater management goals, and to provide an opportunity for nonresidential and condominium property owners to reduce their monthly Stormwater Management Services (SWMS) charge.

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