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City’s Sustainable Skylines initiative gets underway

Release Date: 11/07/2009
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, EPA,215-814-5543, smith.bonnie@epa.gov & Elise Turner, DVRPC, 215-238-2941, eturner@dvrpc.org

PHILADELPHIA (November 7, 2009) - The planting of 30 trees in a North Philadelphia park and neighborhood today is one of many projects planned to make Philadelphia one of the nation’s cleaner and ‘greener’ cities. Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission gathered at Reyburn Park, 22nd Street and Lehigh Ave., where they pledged support for a new initiative called Sustainable Skylines.

“Our Sustainable Skylines partnership with the City and other concerned organizations has a clear goal in mind – cleaner air in a greener city,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator William C. Early. “We commend Philadelphia as a leader in sustainability.”

Today’s tree planting in North Philadelphia is an example of the kinds of projects getting underway to bring cleaner air and greener living through Philadelphia’s Sustainable Skylines Initiative.

Sustainable Skylines is an EPA program to help communities improve air quality and find solutions for other local environmental issues for better living. Philadelphia is the third city in the nation chosen to pilot the program.

EPA and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission are working with the City of Philadelphia, PECO Energy Company, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Clean Air Council, SEPTA and numerous other partners to implement the Sustainable Skylines Initiative. The projects complement the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability’s framework and Mayor Nutter’s vision of Philadelphia becoming the greenest city in the country.

All of the Sustainability Skyline partners are contributing. EPA awarded a $150,000 grant to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) for Sustainable Skylines efforts. EPA, DVRPC and it local partners have already leveraged more than $3.75 million.

”By strengthening existing partnerships and fostering new relationships, the Sustainable Skylines Initiative has assisted DVRPC in coordinating efforts that will help reduce air pollution, save energy, and improve quality of life in the Delaware Valley,” said Barry Seymour, Executive Director, DVRPC.

The Sustainable Skylines partnership is going to make it easier for individuals and businesses to make tax-deductable contributions to fund tree planting in the Delaware Valley. Trees reduce storm water runoff and flooding, improve air quality and road safety, and add to property values. The Sustainable Skyline’s corporate support for tree planting program will provide funding to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) to expand its TreeVitalize program and the city’s urban tree canopy.

“PHS is very grateful for the opportunity to grow TreeVitalize efforts in the Philadelphia region, with the support of business and individual contributions made possible through Sustainable Skylines,” said Michael Leff, TreeVitalize program manager at PHS. “This initiative makes it easier for everyone to participate in improving our environment and communities.”

The Philadelphia Sustainable Skylines partners are also planning:

an energy efficiency and conservation campaign to conduct energy audits of municipal buildings and develop case studies as a “how to” guide for local governments and municipalities to quantify their energy usage and conserve energy.

lawn equipment replacement program for consumers to trade-in working gasoline-powered mowers or other equipment for rebates, discounted electric or push lawnmowers to reduce harmful air emissions.

anti-idling education campaign to reduce diesel vehicle idling. The Clean Air Council has launched www.idlefreephilly.org for the public’s help in identify idling hot spots.

expanding and diversifying diesel retrofits and replacements including changes in fleets in the city by replacing diesel-fueled refuse trucks with natural gas-fueled trucks and electrifying ground support vehicles at the Philadelphia airport.

To learn more about Philadelphia’s Sustainable Skylines see: www.dvrpc.org/SSI/

For information on the national Sustainable Skylines initiatives see: www.epa.gov/sustainableskylines/ssicities.html