Philly biz leaders sign onto green agenda

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Pierre Brondeau of Rohm & Haas is the first to sign the 'Charter Members of the Greeter Philadelphia Green Business Commitment' at Tuesday morning's event. (Photo: Tommy Leonardi)

Making Philadelphia "the most sustainable city in America" is a goal Mayor Nutter has asserted repeatedly, and today he took a major step toward that in launching  the Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program. Thirty-three Delaware Valley companies have signed on as charter members of the initiative, which provides a checklist of steps for companies to "green" their business practices. This includes seven mandatory measures and 20 elective measures, and based on the number of practices, firms may achieve different rankings of Basic, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

Enthusiasm for the prospects of the program ran high at the Press Conference held at Rohm & Haas Philly headquarters (6th and Market) this morning, as Mayor Nutter promised that the initiative would implement "the most advanced Green principles" and help all of us to "change our wasteful habits." He also found time to joke with Montgomery County Commissioner Joseph Hoeffel about both of them using "the same barber."

Earth to Philly chatted with one of the leading thinkers behind the green biz checklist, Patrick Starr, Vice President of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council's Southeast Region. What about the program, we wanted to know, would put some teeth into the rhetoric about turning Philly into our country's "most sustainable city?"

"We're going further in measuring the impact, measuring the carbon footprint," he said, pointing to the comprehensive and detailed nature of the checklist. He also pointed out an interesting section at the end promising two extra credits for "Innovation" that furthers the aims of a particular category, even if it's not on the list yet. "One cool thing is that we're asking companies to to share their good ideas" in order to make the plan even more comprehensive, he said. "What we know is that as much as we struggled to make this comprehensive somebody will come along and say 'Why didn't you do this? Why didn't you include this?' So we're staying open to new initiatives, new ideas."

For instance, Starr allowed that one potential area for expanding the comprehensiveness of the checklist is in the area of food - so far the only mention is an item encouraging locally-grown and/or organic food at corporate events. "The community sets the standards," he remarked. "No doubt, someone out there will say we need to include points and bonuses" for serving plant-based foods, due to the outsize greenhouse-gas impact of livestock."Right now, though, we were going for the big wins in things like facilities' energy efficiency and transportation costs."

Interested business leaders can find out more about signing up for the Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program at its Web site, phillygreenbiz.com, where they can, in the words of Gandhi (topping the FAQ page) "Be the change that you want to see in the world."

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