Philly Greenworks making progress, city says

It’s working, city officials say.

The Greenworks plan, an ambitious blueprint for making the city more sustainable, launched in 2009, is meeting its goals. Even exceeding some, Mayor Nutter and his office of sustainability announced today.

Among the gains highlighted in the 2014 progress report:

  • The number of greened acres that capture the first inch of rainwater — before it enters the city’s overburdened sewer system — tripled in the last year. The city went from 103 acres of green roofs, permeable pavement and the like to 323.
  • Since the plan was launched, the city has seen the addition of more than 100 “food access sites” — farmers markets and the like. This exceeds the original Greenworks goal of 86 new sites.
  • The plan set a 70 percent waste diversion goal, and for the second consecutive year, the city has met it. The recycling rate still hovers at around 21 percent, but add in the refuse sent to waste-to-energy facilities, and that ups the overall diversion rate.
  • Air pollution remains a major concern, but in 2013, Philadelphia surpassed its goal for improved air quality for the first time since Greenworks was released, the city said. Greenhouse gas emissions in the city have decreased sight percent since 2006, the report showed.
  • And greenery? Since 2009, the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation's TreePhilly program has planted 100,000 trees, which help cool the city, beautify neighborhoods and clean the air.

"With the leadership and collaborative work of City staff, community partners and elected officials, Philadelphia has seen gains in all five of the Greenworks target areas," said Mayor Nutter in a press release.

“The pace and scale of implementation continues to grow, demonstrating that support for sustainability efforts is only getting stronger. Our Administration will continue to work to reach our goal of becoming the greenest city in America."

Five years into the six-year implementation timeline, work on 160 of the 164 initiatives is either complete or underway, according to the report card.

"One great benefit of tracking data on a yearly basis is that we are able to identify interesting and informative trends,” said Katherine Gajewski, Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability, in the press release. “We know and can document, for example, that weather patterns are a very influential driver of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and air quality. Having information like this helps us to target our work and make better decisions."

Major initiatives for 2014-2015 include launching a bike share program and developing a climate adaptation plan.

The full Greenworks Philadelphia 2014 Progress Report can be found at