Philly Goes From Gray to Green

Philadelphia, PA (December 18, 2013) – Philly is moving from gray to green infrastructure. The result: environmental, social, and economic benefits. Trees, greenspace, and permeable surfaces are absorbing carbon, cleaning the air, reducing urban heat, increasing property values, saving money, and creating jobs. ASLA President Mark Focht explains the green infrastructure plan.

Trees on Philly StreetAt a recent Dupont Summit 2013 on Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, Mark Focht, first deputy commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and ASLA President, described Philadelphia’s only EPA-approved green infrastructure plan. It’s a cutting-edge, low-cost approach to manage stormwater run-off.

According to Focht, a gray infrastructure system was estimated to cost more than $6 billion. The green infrastructure plan Philly is moving forward with will cost $1.2 billion over 25 years.

Beyond the cost savings, the environmental benefits also have a big payoff. The greening plan could absorb or help the city avoid some 1.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

With improved air quality that comes from new trees, green roofs, and parks, communities will also enjoy both health and social benefits. Deaths are a result of urban heat could also be cut by 250 over 20 years.

Finally, new greenery is expected to increase property values by $390 million over 45 years, which will also add to the city’s property taxes revenues. In the short term, all those green roofs and parks need to be constructed, creating an expected 250 local green jobs.

Philadelphia’s new plan is based on the “greened acre,” which can include rain gardens, trees, green roofs, permeable pavements, and green “bump-outs.” According to Focht, “one greened acre is equivalent to one inch of managed stormwater from one acre of impervious drainage area, or 27,158 gallons of stormwater.” The city decided to come up with the greened acre concept to help communicate with the public about their goals over the coming decades.

Over the next 25 years, Philadelphia wants to convert 9,600 impervious acres into permeable greened ones. That means 34% of the city’s now impervious surface (or 15 square miles) will become permeable. Learn more and download Focht’s full presentation.

Source:The New Philadelphia Story is About Green Infrastructure,” ASLA’s The Dirt

Related Resource: Banking on Green: How Green Infrastructure Saves Municipalities Money and Provides Economic Benefits Community-wide