Big Green Block

December 16, 2012 Philadelphia

Case Study Source: The Joint U.S.-Brazil Initiative on Urban Sustainability, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


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. The New Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum building with green roofs, rain gardens, and several other stormwater systems. These systems were driven by requirements under Philadelphia's stormwater regulations; however, they also assisted the school building in achieving the LEED platinum rating.

Rain gardens in the parking lot of the Shissler Recreation Center and stormwater tree trenches along streets adjacent to the Center were installed through a partnership effort including the Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, New Kensington Community Development Corporation, Sustainable 19125, and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.


This project is intended to reduce stormwater runoff and associated combined sewer overflows. This project also transformed Norris Street, a street formerly full of vacant derelict lots where illegal drugs were sold, into a green street and educational mural. The mural serves to educate the community about stormwater, and the street transformation aims to reduce local crime and increase local property values.

Contact Information

Philadelphia Water Department
Fax: +1 (215) 685-6043
Mail: Office of Watersheds
Philadelphia Water Department
1101 Market Street, 4th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107