Philadelphia, June 30, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter released the 2015 Greenworks Philadelphia Progress Report, the sixth and final summary of the work completed under the City of Philadelphia’s comprehensive sustainability plan during the Nutter Administration.

Offering a keynote address at the Franklin Institute, the Mayor said that of the 164 initiatives outlined in the plan, 160 are already underway or complete.  Of the 15 target areas, the City has exceeded, met or nearly met 7 of its goals and is trending in the right direction on 4 others.

The full report is available online at

Additionally, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability also released a web-based mapping and visualization tool that showcases citywide progress. Created with local geospatial analysis firm Azavea, the Greenworks Map provides an easy way to access information about the City’s place-based sustainability investments by displaying them geographically. Users can see Greenworks projects and initiatives in a citywide map-view, zoom to a particular neighborhood or address, and filter by areas of interest. The Map will be available to partners to use and will be updated regularly as new projects are implemented.

The Greenworks Map is available at or on the Office of Sustainability’s homepage at

The text of the speech is as follows, check against delivery:

Good afternoon and thank you all so much for joining us.

Today, we are releasing the Greenworks 2015 Progress Report, the last sustainability report to be issued by this Administration. I wanted to take the opportunity to bring together core partners to thank you and celebrate what we have accomplished together over the past eight years.

We are thrilled to be back at the Franklin Institute, the place where we launched our Greenworks plan in 2009, in its beautiful new LEED-certified conference center.

Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of the Franklin Institute, is here.  Let’s give him a round of applause.

I want to thank Katherine Gajewski for that very kind introduction.  For the last few years, with the support of her team at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Katherine has coordinated our sustainability efforts to great success.

Let’s recognize Katherine Gajewski and the entire team at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

Before we begin, I’d also like to acknowledge the many city officials who have been integral partners in making Philadelphia a greener city, especially: Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources; Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Commerce Director; Howard Neukrug, Water Commissioner; Dave Perri, Streets Commissioner; and John Elfrey, Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities.

One of the things that make Greenworks so special is that nearly every department and agency played a role in its development and implementation. Thank you to all of my City colleagues who are here today.

Just over six years ago, I was proud to announce Greenworks Philadelphia – a bold, innovative and comprehensive framework for a greener, more sustainable city, Philadelphia.

Many of you have been vital partners along the way, sharing your knowledge, expertise and passion with our Administration.  You have truly been a force to be reckoned with.

You have shouted your “green is good” mantra and convinced people in this city to listen to you.  You have created the change you want to see in our great City.

We are proud to share our success, and make no mistake Greenworks has been a success, with all of you. It is one of the things I’m most proud of in my time as mayor.

When I took the oath of office, I said Philadelphia must become the greenest city in America.  It was a simple statement – an ambitious, aspirational goal that focused on short-term changes and long-term results for the benefit of Philadelphians, their children and their grandchildren.

As we started, we knew we had the assets: a city of walkable streets, one of the best regional transit systems in the country, an incredible and large park system, and a rich stock of durable buildings.

We knew we would have the support of the organized and focused sustainability movement, but we needed a plan that would rally Philadelphians, and we needed to implement it well.

Back then, it was a question of will.  Did Philadelphia have the will power to challenge the status quo of high carbon emissions, massive energy consumption and low recycling rates?

Would we fight back against the literal rising tides of climate change?

Could we get Philadelphians to care about an issue that seemed less pressing than crime, jobs and education?

While policy makers and pundits argued about whether climate change was real – even though the science is significantly settled — municipal governments had to lead the way and create impactful policy.

Our plan, complete with measureable goals to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has 164 initiatives.  And, we built in transparency and accountability measures, reporting on our progress each year.

Greenworks covers nearly every facet of ‘greening’ imaginable: energy efficiency, waste management, air and water quality, clean energy, public green spaces and even the tree canopy.  Most importantly, it allows everyone to play a role, and it is our collective action that is bringing about great changes for our great city.

When we launched Greenworks, we brought together city departments, advocates, community groups and other stakeholders to work toward a shared goal – to become a more sustainable, equitable and livable city, to improve our shared urban environment.

And, the results have been nothing short of tremendous.

In 2007, our city-wide recycling rate was as abysmal 6%. Today, it is above 20%.

We’ve increased the amount of waste that is recycled or used to produce energy from 53% to 73%.

City government green house gas emissions have been reduced 15% below 1990 levels.

Even as federal air quality standards have gotten stricter, Philadelphia has seen record low numbers of unhealthy air quality days in 2013 and 2014 at just 6 days.

We greened more than 580 acres to manage stormwater and planted more than 120,000 new trees since 2009 and created TreeKeepers, a seasonal maintenance crew that supports our tree canopy goals while learning critical job skills.

We’ve increased Philadelphians’ access to healthy, affordable food with more than 100 new farmers markets, gardens, and farms and convened Philadelphia’s Food Policy Advisory Council.

Since 2008, we have retrofitted more than 16,250 homes making them more energy efficient, more affordable to own, and more comfortable.

I want to say a little something about retrofitting – prior to this Administration, retrofitting wasn’t a significant presence in Philadelphia.  We saw this as an opportunity where leadership could create incentives to increase individual energy efficiency in homes and businesses.  We used federal grant dollars, formed partnership and now, we’re even attracting businesses to the City that specialize in this kind of work.

We’ve added about 100 miles of bike lanes and launched the City’s bike share program, Indego, which celebrated its 100,000th rider two weeks ago after less than two months of operation.

These accomplishments and many more are detailed in depth in the 2015 Greenworks Philadelphia Progress Report, which you received today.

I won’t go into great detail.  The report, and its 164 initiatives, speaks for itself, but I do want to point out that, of the 15 targets, we have exceeded, met or nearly met 7 of our goals and are trending in the right direction on 4 others.

And, other city departments are getting in on the greening efforts, too.  Look at:

Green City, Clean Waters, a historic agreement between the City and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a program in the Water Department that installs green infrastructure, instead of more costly grey infrastructure, to better manage storm water runoff.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is currently running a set of experiments with The Wagner Free Institute of Science and local community groups in Haddington Woods in West Philadelphia to understand adaptive forest management appropriate for the changing weather Philadelphia will experience in the coming century.  This program will help us make investments in restoration practices that will preserve our forests for generations to come.

Get Healthy Philly: The Health Department, in partnership with the Food Trust, created eight new farmers markets and 669 healthy corner stores.  It also developed Philly Food Bucks, an incentive program that allows SNAP recipients to add $2 worth of fresh fruits and veggies to their purchase for every $5 in SNAP benefits they use at farmers markets in the city.

Today, city departments are collaborating with partners inside and outside of government to make our city more sustainable.  For example:

Parks for People: Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, the Water Department and the School District of Philadelphia, are greening schoolyards and recreation centers in five neighborhoods with a shortage of open, green public space.  The first 10 sites will be completed by early next year.

PowerCorpsPHL: An AmeriCorps program designed to support Philadelphia’s environmental stewardship, workforce development and youth violence prevention priorities, PowerCorpsPHL members serve with the Water and Parks & Rec departments to maintain the city’s stormwater infrastructure and urban green spaces.

These initiatives, big and small, are moving us toward our ultimate goal of making Philadelphia the greenest city in America.

And, Greenworks’ positive outcomes have informed the sustainability planning efforts of other partners.  SEPTA, Center City District, University City District and the School District of Philadelphia have each shared in our vision and developed or are working on their own plans.

A great example of leadership and partnership is SEPTA’s climate planning for the Manayunk Norristown high speed line. An increase in flooding incidents made SEPTA realize they needed to start climate adaptation planning.

Their work to understand how extreme weather influences their operations helped them win $87 million in Sandy recovery funds from the Federal Transportation Administration and also provided a helpful example that the City followed as we began our own climate adaptation planning.

As this example shows, regional work is informing federal programs and supporting local progress. We’re all in this together.

As you can tell, greening and sustainability efforts have become a part of the fabric of our municipal government – in fact, we’ve earned overwhelming support from Philadelphians and made our sustainability efforts a permanent part of city government.  I want to thank Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown for her advocacy around sustainability efforts.

We’ve created a new vision of a greener Philadelphia with a sustainable future and this will be even more important in the coming years as we continue to experience the impacts of climate change.

Let me just say, I believe that climate change is not only real, but a serious threat looming over our nation and every nation on the planet.  And cities responsible for emergency services, stormwater management and street plowing are the first responders to the results of climate change.

In the last few years alone, Philadelphia has seen the snowiest winter ever; the two warmest summers ever; the hottest July ever; the wettest day and the wettest month ever; two hurricanes; and something called a derecho, which I’d never heard of before!

The effects of climate change are real and serious.  Temperature fluctuations are already stressing our infrastructure from buildings facades to streets and water mains.

We know we need to be proactive, and so we are working with climate scientists to understand what these changes will look like in Philadelphia.

This much seems clear: the trends we’re already seeing will continue.  It will be hotter and wetter, and we will have to make real changes to prepare so that Philadelphia can continue to thrive for our children and grandchildren.

And that’s just here.  Around the world, weather is becoming more extreme – floods, droughts, hurricanes, hotter days, more extreme cold, an average temperature increase worldwide of 1.5 degrees Farenheit over the last 100 years.

And the global effects of climate change, like rising sea levels and widening deserts, will be dire if we don’t do something now.

Pope Francis has spoken out on the environment and climate change – saying what should be evident to us all; that climate change is a global issue with deep repercussions for the entire human race if we don’t take action now to address it.

While Congress is at an impasse, I commend President Barack Obama for his commitment to climate change.

Last year, the President convened the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, on which I was honored to serve.

The Task Force brought together state, local, and tribal leaders to develop a set of concrete recommendations on how the federal government can assist us in facing the challenges of climate change – and many of these recommendations are already being developed.

The Task Force also led to a serious discussion on the urgency of climate change and the role cities can play in addressing it.

That’s why, together with my fellow mayors and Climate Preparedness and Resilience Task Force members, Annise Parker of Houston and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, we launched the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda, which aims to raise awareness around the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Climate change will be one of the great leadership challenges cities and nations face in the coming years.  Cities like Philadelphia have gained valuable experience through sustainability planning that will be immensely helpful as we tackle future challenges.

The challenges ahead are great, but so are the opportunities.  The next generation of the sustainability movement will need to be even more transformative, better linking efforts to neighborhoods, because ultimately, we must remember that people are at the heart of sustainability. Environmental outcomes and social equity must go hand in hand.

Now, it is up to the next mayor and it’s my greatest hope that the new Administration not only continues this work, but embraces it with new ideas and energy.

As Philadelphia’s leaders in this sector, you must carry this work forward and hold the next Administration accountable.  Our future as a city depends on it.

Specifically, we need to focus on:

Enhancing transportation options for all Philadelphians, which includes making sure our streets are safe and accommodate all forms of transportation – an idea referred to as ‘complete streets’.

Improving Philadelphians’ access to green spaces by continuing to focus investments in neighborhoods that are most in need.  We took on this work through Green2015 and the ParksForPeople program, the Knight and William Penn Foundations along with the Fairmount Park Conservancy are continuing this work through their ‘Re-imagining the Civic Commons’ project for 5 revitalized public spaces like the Reading Viaduct and West Parkside.  The next administration should continue investments in neighborhoods that haven’t yet been helped.

Strategically planning for a changing energy future by developing a city-wide energy-use master plan.  In the future, our relationship to energy must change.  We’re going to have to use less of it, and get more of what we do use from renewable resources.

And preparing for climate change.  I’m proud of the work the Office of Sustainability has done to identify the changes we’ll face in Philadelphia and understand what we’ll need to continue providing services and maintain our infrastructure.

Our adaptation plan will be published this summer, and it’s a great first step toward preparing Philadelphia to thrive in a new climate.  The next Administration will need to carefully consider the recommendations from the plan and use it to help residents and businesses prepare.

As I said, you have the report.  The facts are there, but let me give you my sense of the big picture.

The successful cities of the future will be those that operate efficiently, provide clean air and water, offer a high quality of life and public health, and are resilient to the coming changes we know will challenge our infrastructure, economies, systems and every resident.

Hanging on the wall in my office is a quote by American architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham.  It is a quote by which I live and govern.

He said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.  Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.  Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us.  Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.  Think big.”

Mr. Burnham was talking to Chicago’s City Council about the Plan of Chicago, a plan that shaped city planning in Chicago and around the world.

A principled man of great vision, Daniel Burnham knew, perhaps better than most, that an ambitious and forward-thinking plan, grounded in hard work and practical action, could yield great results not just for today, but for generations to come.

I believe Greenworks Philadelphia is a big plan, the kind that would have made Mr. Burnham proud.

Over the last six years, Greenworks has identified and implemented solutions to make Philadelphia a greener city with a sustainable future.  It has created a sturdy platform for future sustainability success.

But the work has just begun.  Clearly, there is much more to do.

Now, it is up to those who will take up our sustainability torch to build on Greenworks foundation.

Plant more trees and create more greened acres.

Reduce municipal energy consumption, our dependence on traditional energy sources and city-wide greenhouse gas emissions.

Expand the development and use of renewable energy.  Increase recycling and diversion rates.

Help Philadelphia residents and businesses in every neighborhood reduce their energy use by retrofitting old buildings and building highly efficient new construction.

Raise awareness and better educate residents about what the average citizen can do to reduce their individual carbon footprints.

Continue to seek out sustainability benefits, not just for the environment, but to the health and well-being of citizens and to the economy and beauty of our neighborhoods.

To the next generation of green advocates I have one request:  expand the movement, refine the vision and stagger us with what you can do.

For soon, it will be your responsibility, as the Athenian Oath says, to “…transmit this city greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Thank you. And now let’s celebrate!

Posted in Mayor's Press Releases, Press Release
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