Philadelphia’s Greenworks Plan: One Year Later

Julie Slavet
May 28, 2010

On Wednesday, I was pleased to attend the first annual progress report for Philadelphia’s Greenworks Plan, a six-year plan for making Philadelphia the greenest city in the country.

The event was inspiring. It was great to see so many environmental and community organizations working together to celebrate our city and help it become as sustainable as possible. Often times, in a big city with an old infrastructure like Philadelphia, it can seem like positive environmental change happens very, very slowly. We hear the complaints all the time: “Nothing is happening!” “Where are my tax dollars going?” “Why isn’t Philadelphia as ‘green’ as other cities?”

Well, change IS happening all around us. It will take some time, but Philadelphia has already made some really great strides in the realm of greening. Read the report here and check out all the amazing progress that’s been made citywide in just one year!

An article from the Philadelphia Daily News spells out some of the achievements:

Divert 70 percent of solid waste from landfills – In other words, increase the recycling rate. And it is ticking up. Over the past year, the diversion rate was 16 percent of waste, compared with 12 percent during the previous year. Officials expect it to go even higher now that the recycling-rewards program is set to go citywide.

Provide park and recreation space within 10 minutes of 75 percent of residents – The plan is to add 500 acres of public space. Gajewski said the city is working with neighborhoods to figure out what they want.

Plant 300,000 trees – This is one of the more ambitious goals. Since Greenworks started, 2,846 trees have been planted. In April, the Department of Parks and Recreation kicked off a tree-planting campaign called “Green Philly, Grow Philly.” It is seeking partnerships with private businesses, nonprofits and other organizations to increase the number of trees. But Nutter last week said he would cut $2.5 million the city budgeted to tree-planting, due to financial constraints, which will undoubtedly slow this effort.

Double the number of green jobs – Last year, the city said it wanted to increase the number of green jobs – loosely defined as jobs with an environmental benefit – from 14,379 to 28,800. So far, it has created at least 520 jobs, largely through stimulus funding for types of construction work.

Of course, here at TTF, we are most excited by all the great progress made in the arena of stormwater management, thanks in large part to the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters plan. We’re looking forward to the 2011 progress report. In the mean time, we’ll keep doing our part to help make Philadelphia the greenest city in the country!

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