While 2017 may have produced a never-ending stream of bad environmental news at the federal level, there has been a groundswell of local action working to challenge the Trump administration and to make sure that Philadelphia continues to meet our goal of becoming a sustainable city for all.

We’re proud of what we’ve seen in Philadelphia. The hard work of our residents, businesses, and organizations give us hope for sustainability in the year ahead. Here are 10 reasons why you should be proud too.


10. Cities, States, and businesses are up to the challenge.

After the announcement of the Trump administration’s intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, cities stepped up. Philadelphia joined 387 other Mayors in recommitting to the U.S. commitment to the Paris Accord, reducing carbon pollution between 26-28% by 2025.


In addition to reaffirming the Paris Accord commitment, Philadelphia secured its international commitment to act on climate change through the We Are Still In campaign, Chicago Climate Charter, Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, and Mayor’s for Solar Energy. These agreements represent a promise to work together with Mayors to monitor our greenhouse gas reduction goals, advocate for renewable energy, and bring marginalized voices to the table.


9. Philadelphia ranks nationally on sustainable education, urban transportation, and energy efficiency

Philadelphia is known for its brotherly love and soft pretzels but it’s also gaining recognition for sustainability. This year, GreenFutures, the School District of Philadelphia’s sustainability plan, received the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Award. Philadelphia made it to the top ten of North American Cities for sustainable urban transportation on the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index. Philly also gained some points this year on our City Energy Efficiency Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).


8. The first City Government building earns an ENERGYSTAR

The One Parkway Building became the first City Government building to be ENERGYSTAR certified in Philadelphia. This accomplishment was possible because of the energy efficiency retrofit known as the Quadplex project, which was completed in 2015 and continues to save $1.4 million a year in energy costs.



7. Equity is given priority

The City of Philadelphia has joined four other U.S. cities in a program called Racial Equity Here to break down practices that perpetuate racial inequities. Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (Rebuild), a $500 million program to revitalize public spaces, created a workforce equity plan to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses are prioritized vendors. And the Greenworks Equity Index received funding from Partners for Places and the Knight Foundation to identify and work with communities where exposure to environmental stressors, like heat, are high.


6. Philadelphia gets green light to update building codes

After working with outdated building codes, new state legislation creates an exception specifically for Philadelphia to adopt the 2018 International Code Council (ICC) Codes for commercial construction. Because Pennsylvania never adopted the updated ICC Codes released in 2012 and in 2015, the new building codes will replace the state’s current 2009 Codes. Philadelphia City Council will need to pass legislation in 2018 to formally update the local codes.


5. CleanPHL

The Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet released the plan to make Philadelphia a zero-waste city by 2035. It’s a big goal but the Cabinet is developing the tools to help us get there. CleanPHL is the City’s one stop shop for all your litter and waste needs. And Philacycle is a rewards program where you can get cool stuff just by recycling and learning about how to properly dispose of your waste.


4. More buildings are committing to energy efficiency

The public and private sectors have teamed up to address the built environment’s role in climate change. This year’s launch of the Philadelphia 2030 District brings together property owners and managers, utilities and energy service companies, and community organizations to pledge to achieve a 50 percent reduction in energy and water usage and transportation emissions by the year 2030.


3. The City commits to buying 100% renewable electricity by 2030 for municipal buildings

The City’s first Municipal Energy Master Plan for the Built Environment was released this year. The plan sets new targets for City government: reduce carbon emissions 50% and purchase 100% of City Government electricity from renewable resources all by 2030.



2. Solar is here to stay

With innovated purchasing programs like Solarize Philly, a new law requiring SRECS to be purchased in state, and our Mayor’s recent commitment, 2017 has been a good year for solar energy, and that’s not all. This year Philadelphia was awarded a Solsmart Gold designation to recognize our City as a national leader in advancing solar energy. SEPTA approved a major solar project at four bus and rail shops across the City. And with growing interest in rooftop solar, the next round of Solarize Philly is expected to be even more successful than the last.



1. Powering Our Future

At the end of 2017, the Office of Sustainability released a draft of Powering Our Future: A Clean Energy Vision for Philadelphia. The vision describes the methods of how we can uphold the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement and work toward a 100% clean energy future based on current and expected trends in our energy system. The vision goes beyond opportunities for City government and identifies opportunities for residents, businesses, and more to each lead on achieving our climate and energy goals. Be sure to have your voice heard by taking a short survey on Powering Our Future.


Here’s to even more local action in 2018. Learn more about environmental protection under the Trump administration and what you can do with this Action Guide. Get the facts then take action! See you in the new year!


Ways to take action on environmental issues today!