Greenworks Philadelphia 2015 Summary

When Mayor Michael A. Nutter first took office in 2008, he set an ambitious goal to make Philadelphia the #1 green city in America. He established the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability and spent a year researching municipal sustainability, talking with residents, and drafting Greenworks Philadelphia. The ambitious plan set 15 sustainability targets in the areas of energy, environment, equity, economy, and engagement to make Philadelphia the greenest city in America by 2015.

As Mayor Nutter’s administration comes to a close, the Office of Sustainability issued the sixth and final 2015 Greenworks Progress Report in July 2015.  It provides a summary of work performed between 2009-2015, including data, trends, notes, and ideas for what comes next.

Click here to download a PDF of the 2015 Greenworks Progress Report.

The report details benchmarks and goals for each of 15 sustainability targets, with more than 160 specific initiatives. The office reports progress made on each target, though not all goals were fully achieved:
EXCEEDED: Targets 6, 7, 8, and 12
MET: Target 15
CAME CLOSE: Targets 4 and 5
TRENDING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: Targets 9, 10, 11, and 13
DID NOT MEET: Targets 1, 2, 3, and 14

Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) was particularly interested in the outcomes of Targets 8, 9, and 11, as follows:

Greenworks Philadelphia Target 8: Manage Stormwater to Meet Federal Standards.  Target Exceeded.

The goal was to establish 450 new greened acres. As of 2015, 581 new greened acres were established.

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) measures stormwater management progress by the number of “greened acres” created. The area counted as greened includes both the area of the stormwater management feature itself, and the area that drains to it. In Philadelphia, an acre receives an average of 1 million gallons of rainfall each year. If the land is impervious, all 1 million gallons run off into the sewer and become polluted. A greened acre will prevent 80 to 90 percent of this pollution.

Greenworks Philadelphia Target 9: Provide Walkable Access to Park Resources/Expanding Open Space.  Target Not Met, Trending Upward

The goal was to add 500 acres of open space by 2015.  As of 2014, only 157 acres have been added.

The city focused on increasing access to public open space. Philadelphia Parks & Recreation partnered with the Trust for Public Land and Philadelphia Water Dept. (PWD) to green schoolyards and recreation centers in five priority neighborhoods. The city and partner organizations continue to implement Philadelphia Master Trail Plan, expanding and enhancing trails.  (Note: The 128-acre Eastwick green space lies between the Eastwick regional rail stop and the Heinz Refuge. If preserved as green space, thousands more people would have immediate access to green space, by simply stepping off the train at Eastwick).

Greenworks Philadelphia Target 11: Increase Tree Coverage toward 30%. Target Not Met, Trending Upward

The goal was to plant 300,000 trees by 2015. As of 2014, 120,388 trees have been planted, less than half that number.

TreePhilly-2015-0411-Joanne Graham -by Debbie Beer

Joanne Graham at Tree Philly event in Eastwick, April 2015. Photo by Debbie Beer

Trees play an integral role in achieving many Greenworks plan targets, including reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and managing stormwater. Trees make the air we breathe cleaner, and reduce illnesses such as asthma. Tree shade lowers summer temperatures, reduce noise polllution, increase habitat for urban wildlife. Street trees and stormwater tree trenches play an important role in absorbing stormwater runoff. A healthy tree canopy increases the economic stability of neighborhoods.

A study using 2008 data, found Philadelphia’s tree canopy was ~20% . Philadelphia Parks & Recreation created the Tree Philly program to engage residents and community organizations in giving away thousands of free trees.  EFNC proudly supported Tree Philly initiatives in Spring and Fall 2015, distributing several 100 trees in Eastwick and Kingsessing.




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