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Philadelphia 2030: America’s Greenest City

Philadelphia 2030: America’s Greenest City

This entry is part of the Masdar Engage Blogging Contest in light of the upcoming Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The theme is:

Based on what you see occurring in urban planning, along with developments in water, waste, energy, food production and transportation, what will your city look like in 2030?

Philadelphia is a city that plans ahead. When Mayor Nutter took office in 2008, his Greenworks plan strived to make Philadelphia the greenest city by 2015 with 166 initiatives. The City Planning Commission uses Philadelphia2035 to envision a livable, healthy, and economically viable city in the future.

Philadelphia 2030: Managing Water

Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters is a groundbreaking approach to storm water management. Rather than ripping apart the city’s infrastructure, the plan provides sustainable solutions like rain barrels, green roofs, rain gardens and porous pavement  to manage storm water. The EPA even signed an agreement to set Philly’s plan as the advanced wet weather control infrastructure.

By 2030, Philadelphia will engage residents and businesses across the city to encourage green infrastructure in housing and businesses. These modifications will be the standard for new buildings and renovations, encouraging more curbside plantings, tree plantings and vegetative roofs across the city.

Philadelphia: Reducing Energy by the Day

Once again, Philadelphia is making strives with energy.

One of the major initiatives in Philadelphia’s Greenworks plan is to reduce energy use in buildings, especially in the commercial sector. The city created an Energy Reduction Race to encourage buildings to cut energy use and cut carbon emissions for cash prizes.

Although Philadelphia buildings are currently above the national average for ENERGY STAR ratings, they continue to make strides in reducing their carbon footprint by switching to wind and solar energy. Many of the city events hosted become carbon neutral by 2030, and the trend has transpired into residential homes. Many Philadelphians have chosen to save on their energy bill, also saving cash.

Philly’s Local Food Scene

Nutter’s Greenworks plan increased to Farmers Markets, gardens and farms to 86 by 2015. With the momentum of Farmer’s Markets citywide with various times, supermarkets and corner stores now offer more locally grown food than imported.

Greenhouses make it hard throughout the tough winter to harvest hearty produce. 70% of residents belong to a CSA or regularly shop at Farmer’s Markets for everything from produce to soaps to honey.

Philly Transit Switching away from cars

Although Philly once laughed about its lack of public transportation options, the city has triumphantly revamped its transit system. SEPTA started with its electronic KEY system in 2015 and soon began incentivizing citizens to reduce taxes by taking public transit. 85% of all journeys in 2030 Philadelphia are taken by bike, public transit or walking.

Philadelphia’s bike share system has become the most popular in the nation, with citizens turning half the city’s roads into bike lanes. Since Philadelphia’s inclusive bike share system included all income levels, residents are able to commute to school, work and errands simply by two-wheels. Bike parking has increased across the city so you can spend less time circling blocks and leave your bike underneath a bicycle garage.

Philadelphia: 2030 vision

Overall, Philadelphia has made extensive progress by 2030 for sustainability. Residents have shifted the city’s image from one of the nation’s dirtiest to America’s greenest city, composting and recycling more than throwing away garbage.

I can’t wait to see how the city develops over the next 15 years and look forward to watching it unravel.

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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