Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Oct 16 2014

Backgrounder: Eco-friendly Philadelphia

Obsession For The Environment Takes Over The City Of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia’s bike-share program, to begin in spring 2015, is just the latest news in the city’s eco-friendly efforts. Long a pioneer in the environmental movement, Philadelphia is attracting increasing global attention for efforts to become a leader in urban sustainability. Attractions, organizations and the city itself hold prestigious designations, including a major award from the Environmental Protection Agency. Not to be outdone, the region’s service amenities and modes of transportation are also advancing the green revolution.

Here’s a look at Philadelphia’s green cred:


  • The Clean Air Council’s 5K Run for Clean Air is Philadelphia’s largest Earth Day celebration. It starts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and follows the scenic Schuylkill River. As one of the greenest races in the country, the 5K has been certified as a green run by AFitPlanet. What does that mean? Dozens of sustainable practices, including paperless online registration, solar-powered generators, recycling and composting of almost all of waste, bicycle valet, seed-paper run bibs, reusable race bags, medals made from recycled material, T-shirts and tech shirts made from 100% recycled material and environmental education exhibits. April 18, 2015.
  • The annual Philly Spring Cleanup began in 2008 to encourage Philadelphia residents and organizations to support the city’s effort towards a cleaner and greener Philadelphia all year long. The single-day cleanup event attracts 14,000 volunteers participating in 500 registered projects. Beautification projects include litter removal, tree planting, playground and park revitalization and graffiti removal. The Philly Spring Cleanup serves as a kickoff event for an annual 6,500 city-sponsored neighborhood cleanups. April 2015 (exact date TBD).
  • Philadelphia’s largest environmental festival, Greenfest Philly invites people to learn how to live a little greener and a little healthier. In the festivities lineup: music from local bands, organic food and drinks, a beer garden, a kids’ corner with eco-friendly crafts and music, handmade goods, a celebration of local sustainability innovators and opportunities to take action for clean air. It all takes place at Headhouse Square. September 13, 2015.
  • During Dine Out for the Environment, eco-minded restaurants around the city serve up signature dishes while highlighting their commitment to sustainability. Diners get a sneak peek into the impressive kitchens that work hard to support local farms, reduce waste and chemical usage and leave the world a better place for future generations. A percentage of sales from the event are donated to the Clean Air Council to support its work in the Philadelphia area. October 15, 2015.

Getting There The Greener Way:

  • Enterprise CarShare offers its members access to low-mileage and fuel-efficient vehicles at nearly 300 locations throughout the Philadelphia area, including six local university campuses. (215) 627-3019,
  • Awarded with the Green Vision Award from The Penjerdel Council, a regional business advocacy group, the Philadelphia International Airport has secured federal funding to replace its ground equipment (including baggage tractors and belt loaders) with non-emissions-creating electric models and is studying the feasibility of installing green roofs and rain cisterns. 8000 Essington Avenue,
  • Philadelphia is the top city for per-capita bicycle commuting among the 10 biggest U.S. cities, and in 2014, Urban Times ranked Philadelphia’s Spruce Hill and Pennsport neighborhoods third and fourth in its list of the “Top 10 Cycling Communities in the USA.” Big news in the non-motor front: Indego, Philly's bike-share program named from sponsor Independence Blue Cross, will put 600 rentable bikes available at 60 stations throughout the city into use starting in late April 2015.
  • The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is an industry leader in sustainability, which is a core part of the SEPTA’s overall strategic business plan. Riders and residents see green efforts every day, such as the continuing replacement of older buses with cleaner-burning diesel-electric hybrids. SEPTA also administers less visible initiatives to make operations more environmentally friendly—and cost efficient—including its groundbreaking project to capture, store and reuse energy generated by braking trains.
  • After more than six years in the market, Zipcar allows Philadelphians to borrow 350 cars, including many hybrid or gas-efficient models, from a fleet located throughout 25 neighborhoods. (215) 735-3691,

Citywide Sustainability Programs:

  • Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is dedicated to community building through community greening. In partnership with the Philadelphia Streets Department, the initiative engages individuals to take responsibility for their local environment through education, outreach and community cleanup opportunities.
  • To make recycling even more rewarding—and encourage more of it—the City of Philadelphia partners with Recyclebank to offer the Philadelphia Recycling Rewards program. When they recycle, residents receive points that they can use to redeem rewards such as eco-friendly cleaning and home products and gift cards to national retailers and restaurants.
  • The UnLitter Us movement celebrates real Philadelphians who clean and improve their neighborhoods. The message: Individuals can take action to make communities clean, safe and strong places to live, work and play. Residents not only set a positive example for their neighbors, but they also often become involved as Block Captains and register their neighborhoods as Litter Free Zones.

Green Spaces:

  • Dilworth Park serves as Philadelphia’s new center stage. In September 2014, City Hall’s front yard went from an uninspired concrete space to a $55 million multi-use park, complete with four tree groves, benches, a cafe, areas for outdoor events and performances and, in the colder months, an ice skating rink. During warmer weather, the programmable fountain uses recycled rainwater. Sloping glass headhouses lead to the major transit hub below the park, with easy access to the Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford Line. 15th & Market Streets,
  • The 1.3-acre Sister Cities Park welcomes visitors to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with a richly planted and well-illuminated public space. The eco-forward pavilion, which houses a cafe and a visitor center under its green roof, is surrounded by an outdoor children’s garden, a boat pond and a fountain that pays tribute to Philadelphia’s 10 sister cities. 18th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway,

Greening For The Future:

  • GoodCompany’s residency program is the region’s first incubator specifically designed to cultivate environmental and social entrepreneurs. It has become a marketplace of innovative green businesses, providing physical space and professional support to area residents. Public receptions following curriculum presentations allow outsiders to learn more about the industries these entrepreneurs serve. 1650 Arch Street, Suite 1905,
  • As part of the EPA’s Green Power Partner program, the environmental agency ranks the University of Pennsylvania as its top individual green power purchaser, with a 2013-14 academic year total of 200,183,000 kWh (kilowatt-hours). Penn also comes in first in the Ivy League Conference. In 2013, the university signed a five-year contract to purchase more than 200 million kWh of wind Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) annually. According to the EPA’s accounting of voluntary REC purchases, this offsets more than 50% of the emissions from Penn’s total electrical usage. 3451 Walnut Street, (215) 898-5000,

Environmentally Engaging Education & Play:

  • The 200-plus-year-old Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University weaves sustainability into its institutional fabric by framing programs, operations and community outreach within the context of a commitment to the earth and environmental health. Its scientists focus on critical issues in biodiversity, evolution and environmental science. The academy is also devoted to creating partnerships to help make Philadelphia the greenest city in America. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000,
  • KidZone at Adventure Aquarium invites kids to play and learn in an area that features living coral reef exhibitions and various reef residents. To explain the ecosystems, interactive activities or interpretative panels accompany almost every cage and tank. 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ, (856) 365-3300,
  • A conservatory plaza at Longwood Gardens contains a 4,000-square-foot green wall—the largest in North America. The wall features 47,000 different plants that provide oxygen and clean up 15,500 pounds of dust and airborne toxins every year. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000,
  • With green roofs, rainwater harvesting systems and geothermal heating and cooling, the Philadelphia Zoo’s indoor/outdoor KidZooU is a LEED Gold-certified site. Plus, interactive elements teach even the youngest visitor about saving energy and helping animals, empowering them to positively affect their communities and the world through simple changes, such as recycling and reducing energy and water use. In addition, the zoo participates in local and global animal conservation projects and is a living classroom, educating visitors about wildlife conservation. 3400 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100,
  • The Groundwater Foundation designated Sesame Place as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site for its “Lasagna Gardening” landscaping technique, which layers wet newspapers, soil and organic material to create rich beds for plants. It also earned a nod for its culinary department’s use of 100% recycled and bleach-free napkins, compostable soda cups and Rainforest Alliance-approved coffee. 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, (215) 752-7070,

Building Better:

  • The Barnes Foundation has earned distinction as the greenest major art and education institution in the country, thanks to its designation as a LEED Platinum-certified edifice. One of just a few museums in the nation with platinum status—and the only one with a major art collection—the Barnes received credit for initiatives like diverting nearly all of its construction waste away from landfills and incorporating energy-saving aspects that are expected to conserve 44% more energy than traditional buildings of its size and scope. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7000,
  • The Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse includes a landscaped entrance, HVAC systems designed to self-monitor for efficient use and room-specific conditions, as much natural lighting as possible and building materials and techniques that comply with most LEED standards. People of all backgrounds and religions can take in the Skyspace installation, which combines the sky with a programmed sequence of LED lighting, by contemporary light artist James Turrell. 100 E. Mermaid Lane, (215) 247-3553,
  • The Comcast Center serves as the tallest LEED Gold-certified building in the country and boasts the world’s largest indoor LED screen. Plus, the skyscraper is clad with a high-performance glass curtain wall that blocks 60% of the sun’s heat while allowing 70% of its visible light to be directed to office spaces. 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, (215) 496-1810,
  • The Curtis Institute of Music achieved LEED Gold status for Lenfest Hall, the conservatory’s first major expansion in two decades. Built with only the highest quality materials, it features a façade full of windows to allow maximum natural light and a garden on the roof that grows vegetables and herbs for the dining hall. 1616 Locust Street, (215) 893-5252,
  • Friends Center, a complex of buildings owned by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), holds a LEED Platinum certification thanks to a vegetated roof, geothermal wells, cisterns to capture rainwater and direct daylight at virtually every desk. Anyone can take time to enjoy the outdoor terrace, visit the information kiosk in the lobby or sit in the quiet worship room. 1501 Cherry Street, (215) 241-7000,
  • The Mercer Museum in Bucks County’s Doylestown used LEED guidelines in the construction of its newest wing, which opened in 2011. Among in the environmentally friendly elements are a green roof, a rain garden and permeable paving in the parking lot to mitigate storm water runoff. 84 S. Pine Street, Doylstown, (215) 345-0210,
  • From a commitment to encourage green building construction to a focus on building a nationally recognized center of excellence in renewable power and energy research, education and commercialization, The Navy Yard sits at Philadelphia’s leading edge of sustainability. The impressive complex includes more than 20 acres of open park space and a one-mile riverfront jogging and biking path. 4747 S. Broad Street, (215) 843-9273,
  • The EPA recognized the parking garage at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the agency’s first “Leading by Example” certificate for “providing leadership in developing a truly remarkable and innovative design that incorporates energy efficiencies and protects the waters of Philadelphia.” The garage, completed in 2009, is topped with a green roof that doubles as a dramatically landscaped sculpture garden, creating a porous surface to filter storm water runoff before it reaches the Schuylkill River. 26th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,

Sporting Green:

  • Though it received international attention for hosting the 2013 U.S. Open, Merion Golf Club also scores points from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and Golf Digest magazine, which awarded it the Environmental Leader in Golf Award. The exclusive course’s turf-maintenance center won a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary designation, thanks to its green roof with fescue plants and birdhouses and a mechanics’ shop that’s heated with used motor oil. 450 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, (610) 642-5600,
  • Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Philadelphia Eagles, is on its way to becoming the NFL’s greenest stadium. A major renewable energy project was completed in 2012: More than 11,000 solar panels and 14 microturbines produce enough clean energy to power 30% of the organization’s annual energy needs. 1020 Pattison Avenue, (215) 463-2500,
  • The Wells Fargo Center, the 21,000-seat home of the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, is a registered member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Its owner, Comcast-Spectacor, sells the arena’s unused power back to the electric company and converts cooking grease from its food stands into biodiesel fuel that’s being rigorously cleaned and filtered to triple usage time prior to disposal. 3601 S. Broad Street, (215) 336-3600,
  • In April 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies launched the “Red Goes Green” program in an effort to lead the way in the clean energy movement at professional sports venues. Since then, the Phillies have purchased 20 million kilowatt-hours of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) annually, placed 35 oversized recycling containers throughout Citizens Bank Park and donated unused cooked food to a local community center. 1 Citizens Bank Way, (215) 463-6000,

Rest Easy With Eco-Friendly Lodging:

  • Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia generates one-third of its electricity and heats the hotel’s hot water, including the heated indoor pool, with microturbines. In addition, the hotel composts leftovers from its restaurants and uses the byproducts in its rooftop garden to grow herbs and flora for cooking and decorating. 1 Logan Square, (215) 963-1500,
  • Located in the historic Lafayette Building, Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Philadelphia earned LEED Gold certification within six months of opening. Impressing the LEED assessors: the hotel’s historic adaptive reuse and innovation and the fact that 99% of its new equipment is Energy Star-rated. Also, low-flow faucets and shower heads reduce water consumption by 40%, energy-efficient lighting cuts 35% of lighting needs and high-efficiency HVAC systems produce a 50% reduction in energy and costs. 433 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2111,
  • Before Hotel Monaco arrived, its sister property, Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, became Philadelphia’s and Kimpton’s first LEED Gold-certified hotel. Housed in the American Institute of Architects building, the stylized Palomar is outfitted with a focus on reclaimed, renewable and sustainable materials. 117 S. 17th Street, (877) 725-1778,

You Are What You Eat & Drink:

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan said of The Farm & Fisherman, “This is a restaurant that should restore our faith in the possibilities of a philosophy that’s far more than a fleeting trend.” The 30-seater uses seasonal and sustainable ingredients for its heavenly dishes. 1120 Pine Street, (267) 687-1555,
  • Preparing “fast food” using all plant-based ingredients, HipCityVeg delivers on bicycle, sources locally and packages its orders with only compostable materials. The kitchen composts its scraps, and the decorator designed the interior with recycled and energy-efficient products. 127 S. 18th Street, (267) 928-2135,
  • Kennett is on its way to earning a Green Restaurant Association certification. To qualify, owners built a 100% sustainable operation, which included fashioning furniture from reclaimed wood and upholstering and stuffing seating with recycled cardboard and old blue jeans. 848 S. 2nd Street, (267) 687-1426,
  • Philadelphia’s first establishment to obtain a certification from the national Green Restaurant Association, Chestnut Hill’s Night Kitchen Bakery has worked to reduce their carbon footprint by recycling, composting, growing its own herbs and vegetables, sourcing ingredients locally, using recycled paper towels and napkins and choosing eco-friendly means for renovations, such as Forest Stewardship Council-certified hardwood flooring. Owner Amy Edelman founded Green In Chestnut Hill (aka GrinCH), a community group that secured solar trash compactors for Germantown Avenue and established “weird-waste days” recycling events and Christmas tree recycling days. 7725 Germantown Avenue, (215) 248-9235,
  • Reading Terminal Market is home to the Fair Food Farmstand, locally famous for being among the first to sell only regional produce and humanely raised meats, milk and cheese from grass-fed, hormone-free cows. The market also houses many other shops that purvey certified organic seasonal fruits and vegetables from nearby farms. 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-2317,
  • Adjacent to Hotel Palomar, Square 1682 opened as Kimpton’s first LEED-registered restaurant. The establishment employs many green materials in its design, including recycled glass in the floor tile and bar top and a rapidly renewable cork ceiling. Even Square 1682’s to-go containers are made from sugar cane, and the supplier uses delivery trucks that run on biodiesel or natural gas. 121 S. 17th Street, (215) 563-5008,
  • Tex Mex Connection in North Wales is one of only four of the Green Restaurant Association’s three-star-certified green restaurants in Pennsylvania. The eatery has been recycling for more than 20 years, composts waste and sources food from local and sustainable sources. 201 E. Walnut Street, North Wales, (215) 699-9552,
  • Victory Brewing Company’s brewhouse recovers most of its energy by capturing natural gas used in the brewing process, and it uses photovoltaic electricity and panels to cool fermentation tanks and harness the energy of the sun. The brewery gives its spent grains—25,000 pounds every 24 hours of brewing—to a local farmer to feed his animals, while the restaurant composts 73 tons of food waste annually. In addition, a portion of the sales from every bottle of Headwaters Pale Ale supports environmental advocacy groups. 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, (610) 514-7000,

Turning Those Greenbacks Into Green Living:

  • At Furniture From the Barn, three generations of craftspeople design, build and hand-finish modern country furniture sculpted out of wood reclaimed from 18th-century Pennsylvania barns. The family uses natural products like tung oil and milk paint to craft their pieces. Hours are by appointment only. 191 Greenhouse Road, Nottingham, (610) 932-1122,
  • Calling itself an “earth-friendly department store,” Save Some Green provides recycling services, home essentials, organic bedding, natural cleaners and energy-efficient lighting, plus green-leaning school supplies, fun gifts and toys. 2005 Chestnut Street, (215) 454-2258,
  • United By Blue makes clothing using organic cotton, which helps prevent chemical fertilizers and pesticides from draining into the ocean. For every product sold, the company removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways. To date, United By Blue has hosted 116 cleanups and removed 187,000 pounds of trash from the water supply. The company uses wind and solar power, and all lights are LEDs. In its flagship store, customers can even enjoy organic coffee, hormone-free milk from a local farm and locally sourced food in the cafe. 144 N. 2nd Street, (215) 278-7858,

Eco-Friendly Spas & Fitness Clubs: The Ultimate Feel-Good Experience:

  • Offering day passes to non-members, the 12th Street Gym caters to both a gay and a green clientele. As one of the EPA’s Power Partners, the gym sources all of its electricity from renewable resources. It installed video monitors to promote specials and activities without wasting paper and ink on promotional materials and uses environmentally friendly cups for shakes and smoothies. 204 S. 12th Street, (215) 985-4092,
  • Espousing a holistic philosophy, Eviama Life Green Spa & Boutique’s services include organic facials, Mayan spiritual healing and vibrational therapies using color, crystal and sound. It all happens in a space free of toxic paints; full of salvaged, recycled and sustainable materials; and with electricity from local non-polluting sources. 109 S. 13th Street, (215) 545-3344,
  • Mi Cumbia Organica reinvents the nail salon experience by adhering to the highest standards for organic nail and hair-removal treatments. The intimate space is made from VOC-free, recycled and sustainable materials. The salon uses water-based and non-toxic nail polishes and soy-based products, and some treatments even incorporate fresh coconut, a nod to owner Karina Restrepo’s Colombian heritage. 328 S. 17th Street, (215) 735-7980,

Towns Of EPA Distinction:

  • Philadelphia was the only city to win a 2012 Green Power Leadership Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In bestowing the award, the EPA recognized officials for purchasing wind credits and installing a solar array to power government properties. It also commended the water department for installing the nation’s first geothermal unit to use sewage as a heat source for one of its pollution-control facilities.
  • A forerunner in the recycling movement, charming Swarthmore in Delaware County placed third in a national EPA challenge to buy the largest percentage of green power. More than a quarter of the town’s houses, schools and buildings run on renewable energy, as do all of the borough’s offices and 100 percent of Swarthmore College.
  • West Chester, the county seat of Chester County, has also been recognized by the EPA for its use of green power for more than 60 percent of its governmental needs. West Chester University contributes to the borough’s greening efforts with new buildings that use geothermal power, an environmental reserve and green roofs.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. Visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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