Living Cities and the City of Philadelphia Engage Wide-Ranging Green Economic Agenda

Grant funding, technical assistance and knowledge-sharing will support of City of Philadelphia’s efforts to build a vibrant green economy for the city and region

Philadelphia, May 6 — Living Cities and the City of Philadelphia are embarking on a multi-faceted approach not only designed to meet the patent challenges of climate change but also to create green jobs for low-income people — beginning with a focus on increasing the energy efficiency of its buildings. This is part of a broader effort by Living Cities to highlight work being done by cities across the country to take advantage of the new green economy, detailed in “Green Cities”, a report released today containing one of America’s first-ever assessments of exactly how 40 of the country’s largest cities – including Philadelphia – are trying to limit their carbon footprints, and the steps needed to take these efforts to the next level.

Ben Hecht, Living Cities CEO, notes that, “The emerging green economy can and must deliver opportunities to low-income people and communities, from lower energy and transportation costs, to good jobs and career paths. We are working with city governments, nonprofits and businesses who share that vision.”

“This report makes clear that cities like Philadelphia are on the cutting edge in terms of extending the opportunities of the new green economy to all of our citizens,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “Through investing in new green jobs training programs, weatherizing homes and municipal buildings, and changing behaviors to encourage recycling and energy conservation, cities really can be incubators for innovation and sources of great leadership.”

The City of Philadelphia recently released Greenworks Philadelphia, an ambitious, comprehensive sustainability framework for achieving Mayor Nutter’s goal of Philadelphia becoming the number one green city in the United States by 2015. The framework sets goals in five areas – energy, environment, equity, economy, and engagement – and can be downloaded at http://www.GreenworksPhila.org.

The City of Philadelphia and Living Cities are also collaborating in multiple and concrete ways on this agenda:

Green Stimulus Boot Camp: Through the Living Cities Green Boot Camp, May 31 – June 2 in Cambridge, MA, representatives from the City will join more than 120 leaders from 14 cities and states convening for intensive training and peer networking to discuss their leading edge efforts to create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through large scale building retrofit initiatives.

$250,000 Green Workforce Development Grant: funds will be used to integrate unemployed and underemployed adults through the vehicle of Philadelphia’s settlement house network. The work of these organizations will ensure that marginalized Philadelphians are prepared to successfully complete training programs that qualify them for jobs in solar PV installation, wind turbine manufacturing, residential energy auditing, and/or green building. Philadelphia’s Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN), a collaborative of public and philanthropic investors with leadership from Living Cities member, the Knight Foundation, has been a catalyst in crafting a regional approach to this goal of an inclusive and economically viable green workforce.

“Green Cities” Report: This report takes a step back to look at what the nascent green economy has accomplished while also identifying where their efforts have fallen short. Living Cities interviewed environmental officials responsible for sustainability and climate change programs in 40 of the nation’s largest cities, including Philadelphia. Further conversations were conducted with the brightest thinkers in the field from consultants to former urban planners to heads of key nonprofits.

Key insight culled from the “Green Cities” report indicates:

Four in five big cities report that sustainability is among their top five priorities and more than half of the big cities are either currently creating a sustainability plan or have finished one within the past year.
More than three-quarters of big cities have, or will soon have, detailed plans on how they will reduce greenhouse gases.
The extent to which big cities are investing in reducing greenhouse gases varies widely
Several cities report that they have a single staff member dedicated to these issues, while others report they have several dozen
More than two-thirds of cities reported that state and federal governments have little or no impact on their work
Rising energy costs have driven increases in public transit ridership in virtually every city in the survey and a significant number of cities reported they’re investing in one or more of four central strategies to boost mass transit.
Cities are building more efficient buildings and nearly have of cities have programs subsidizing insulation, energy-efficient appliances and weatherization
About one in four cities have green building mandates that go beyond city buildings and apply to private construction: usually commercial and, in a few cases, residential\
Nearly all cities want to attract green-collar jobs and industries
In fact, one in three cities have partnered with area colleges and created green-focused training programs
One in six report they have programs that place trainees in green jobs

These activities comprise just one part of Living Cities’ efforts to lay a foundation for an inclusive green economy. As a long-time convener and collaborator with extraordinary nonprofits, foundations, public and private sector leaders, the organization will also continue to explore innovative partnerships at the federal, national, and local levels to catalyze and accelerate a green-driven economic recovery through integrative uses of public, private and philanthropic capital.

To access the full Living Cities report visit: http://www.livingcities.org/GreenCitiesReport.pdf

About Living Cities
Founded in 1991, Living Cities is an innovative philanthropic collaborative of 21 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions. Our members are not simply funders. They participate at the senior management level on the Living Cities Board of Directors and contribute the time of 80+ expert staff toward crafting and implementing our agenda, which is focused on improving the lives of low-income people and the urban areas in which they live.
Members: AARP Foundation, AXA Community Investment Program, Bank of America, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase & Company, Deutsche Bank, Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, MetLife, Inc., Prudential Financial, The Rockefeller Foundation, Surdna Foundation Affiliate Members: The Cleveland Foundation, The Skillman Foundation residential energy efficiency.

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