Greenworks Philadelphia 2015 Progress Report

In June 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 between 2009-2015. The 2015 report includes target specific achievements over the last year, cumulative metrics and trends, work that remains in progress, and specific recommendations including a framework for an updated sustainability plan in Philadelphia in the short-term.

Greenworks launched in 2009 and serves as the City of Philadelphia’s first comprehensive sustainability plan. The plan considers sustainability in terms of five overarching goals related to energy, environment, equity, economy, and engagement; 15 measurable targets; and more than 160 specific initiatives.


Since the original Greenworks launch, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability writes that it sought to “expand our equity focus beyond fair geographic distribution of benefits and burdens and to recognize that equitable sustainability planning sometimes requires interventions tailored

specifically to improve outcomes for historically marginalized groups.” For example, before the launch of Philadelphia’s new bike share system, the City sought and received grant funding to learn from residents in low-income communities how to build a system that would serve their needs.

Greenworks continues to consider equity in stormwater management, access to parks and recreation resources, tree coverage, job creation, and energy efficiency throughout the city. The Progress Report also includes a set of recommendations for addressing equity in communications and engagement and highlights efforts to increase affordable healthy food access. Among other activities, the Food Policy Advisory Council released a food policy platform and a guide that Philadelphia residents can use to find soup kitchens, food pantries, meals for seniors, low-cost groceries, and farmers markets in their neighborhoods.


After six years of implementation, Philadelphia has made progress toward all of the plan’s overarching goals and began or completed work on nearly all initiatives. Of the 15 targets, the city exceeded four, met one, came close to two, trending in the right direction on two, and did not meet four others.

For example, according to Mayor Nutter, more than 580 acres have been greened to manage stormwater, and more than 120,000 new trees have been planted since 2009. TreeKeepers was created, as a seasonal maintenance crew that supports the City’s tree canopy goals while learning critical job skills.

Two critical over-arching and concluding lessons learned since 2009 are presented in the final report:

- The current framework doesn’t fully recognize the interconnectedness of outcomes; a future plan may want to take a systems approach and acknowledge that sustainability work often meets multiple goals simultaneously.

- Another important lesson learned is that not all initiatives roll up into a number. Work that supports sustainable goals but doesn’t necessarily have impressive quantitative outcomes can be important nonetheless.



Publication Date: June 30, 2015

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