Greening at School: a Learning Tool for Students, Community

From US EPA Region 3 Press Office

(PHILADELPHIA – April 26, 2012) A $200,000 grant announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will help fund projects to make South Philadelphia’s George W. Nebinger School and surrounding streets greener and healthier.

EPA’s grant, with matching funding from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the nonprofit Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE), brings the total award to $400,000 that will go towards a host of green features at Nebinger School and the adjacent neighborhood. The projects are part of the city’s wide-ranging plan, Green City, Clean Waters, to control pollutant-laden stormwater that inundates the city’s sewer system and causes sewage overflows into area waterways. EPA and the City of Philadelphia signed a partnership agreement earlier this month to help ensure the success of the city’s plan. Continued below >>

For a look at what the Albert M. Greenfield in Center City has done as part of its Greening Greenfield Initiative, check out this video:

Green Schools: Albert Greenfield Elementary from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

“This grant will help the city realize the environmental, economic and community benefits of the Green City, Clean Waters plan,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “In controlling stormwater runoff, we’ll also be helping students appreciate ways of preventing pollution and creating cost-effective, high-performance green streets adjacent to the school.”

In addition to the benefits for Philadelphia, controlling stormwater runoff is critical for reducing pollution to the Delaware River and Bay – the focus of joint efforts by PDE, EPA, and PWD as part of the National Estuary Program. All three are now teaming up with the School District of Philadelphia to develop what is intended as a national and international model for stormwater management and educational programming at the Nebinger School. The school is located at 6th and Carpenter Street in South Philadelphia.

Efforts at the Nebinger School will focus on using green stormwater infrastructure as a classroom, field and laboratory tool, and demonstration opportunity for students and the community. The green tools that may be integrated into the design of the school yard include rain gardens, porous play surfaces and pavement, and stormwater planters. These features will help manage stormwater runoff from the school yard and select adjacent streets.

Several streets close to the Nebinger School have been chosen as potential Green Street projects based on critical connections they create between significant neighborhood amenities and businesses, such as the Weccacoe Playground and the business corridor on Passyunk Avenue between 6th and 10th streets, which is part of the Passyunk Business Improvement District. Green tools that may be integrated into these Green Streets include stormwater trees and tree trenches.

Officials said the project may provide an opportunity for Philadelphia students to collaborate with similar schools in the City of Rio de Janeiro, Philadelphia’s sister city in stormwater management. This collaboration is an extension of the Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JUIS), a partnership among the U.S. EPA, Brazil’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the City of Rio de Janeiro, and the City of Philadelphia, which was formed to advance sustainable cities.

For more information on the Green City, Clean Waters plan and the EPA-city partnership, visit PWD’s website >>

Soak it Up, Philly!

Unless you’ve been pulling a Rip van Winkle lately, you’ve heard it before: As part of its long-term commitment to improving the health of the City’s waterways, the Philadelphia Water Department is focusing a great deal of attention on a “greening” approach.

What you may not realize is just how many PWD “green infrastructure” projects are popping up all over the city. Or how they are having a truly transformative effect on the ‘hoods where they’re being put into place.


The first of a series of public events unveiling some of the projects (see Soak it Up, Philly) was held March 1 in Fishtown where Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources and Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Mike DiBerardinis, New Kensington Community Development Corporation President Sandy Salzman, and other dignitaries were on hand to celebrate the completion of Philadelphia’s first stormwater-friendly GREEN STREET.

A green street restores some of our urban landscape’s natural function by capturing rain or snowmelt (stormwater runoff) and allowing it to soak into the soil instead of flowing directly into the City’s sewer system. This not only helps reduce pollution and prevents flooding, it brings a host of other benefits to a neighborhood, including beautification, cleaner air, and a renewed sense of community pride.

The Waterview Recreation Center in the East Falls neighborhood uses the same kind of stormwater tree trenches that were used in Fishtown. This video explains more about why rainwater runoff is a problem and how these “green tools” work:

Keeping Water On Site: Waterview Recreation Center from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

For everything you ever wanted to know about runoff and what’s being done about it, visit StormwaterPA.org.

For more videos about Philly’s exciting Green City, Clean Waters program, check out our Vimeo Channel.

And be sure to follow PWD’s Blog.

Maybe it’s time to Remember the River

With all of the discussion about drilling for gas in the upper Delaware River watershed and dredging in the tidal portion, we thought it a good time to revisit the Delaware from the perspective of those who value it in a wide range of ways.

We created the following Remember the River video for our friends at the Delaware Riverkeeper Network as part of their ongoing campaign to provide this amazing waterway with a voice at the table. The video was derived in a large part from our PBS documentary Life on the Delaware, which aired on stations throughout the country. If you’re interested in a copy, Life on the Delaware is available here.

Remember the River from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

If this moves you to want to get involved, join the Riverkeeper’s e-activist team and stay up to date on what you can do to help protect this treasured resource!

Philadelphia Forum: Drilling for Natural Gas–What Does it Mean for PA?

Join The Academy of Natural Sciences, Clean Air Council, and The Community Action Forum on Marcellus Shale for an educational forum about drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. The forum will provide a broad and diverse overview of the environmental, health, and economic issues related to the natural gas boom that is currently taking place throughout Pennsylvania.

What: Drilling for Natural Gas in the Marcellus Shale: What it Means for Pennsylvania

When: Wednesday June 8, 2011. Networking: 6-6:30 pm. Program: 6:30-8:30 pm.

Where: Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Ben Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia

Who: Featured panelists include

  • Mr. Joseph O. Minott, Esq., Executive Director – Clean Air Council
  • The Honorable Michael Krancer, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Dr. David Velinsky, Vice President of the Patrick Center for Environmental Research at the Academy of Natural Sciences
  • The Honorable Michael Sturla, Pennsylvania State Representative (D), 96th Legislative District
  • Mr. Brian Grove, Director of Corporate Development for Northeast Pennsylvania for Chesapeake Energy
  • Mr. Richard V. Pepino, Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and the Public Policy Program Chair at Franklin and Marshall College

Register now via EventBrite >>

Carnival on the Parkway April 16 kicks off two week long Phila Science Festival: join us there!

If you don’t have a reservation for the sold out Melting Moments of Delight: The Science of Chocolate (Artisserie Chocolate Cafe on South 18th next Friday), not to worry: you’ve got dozens of alternatives for discovering how science intersects with our daily life over the next couple of weeks as the Philadelphia Science Festival gets underway. You can discuss Biomedical Ethics over beer,  uncover the science behind the iPod, hear how fuel cells can decrease our dependency on oil, and catch inventor Dean Kamen‘s views on innovation and the future. Events are happening all over the city, from the 15-28!

You can check out the complete schedule here >>

The Festival kicks off with a public outdoor carnival on Saturday, April 16th and we’ll be there in force. GreenTreks has teamed up with the School District of Philadelphia and our EcoExpress Community Partners to create a booth offering young and old the chance to discover their connection to the local environment–while also offering teachers resources they can take back to the classroom to engage their students in exciting new ways.

What: Science Carnival on the Ben Franklin Parkway

When: Saturday, April 16, 2011. 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Cost: FREE ALL DAY!

We’ll be there! Visit the School District of Philadelphia with EcoExpress and our Community Partners at Booth 74 around Logan Square on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, just west of Race Street, to participate in hands-on activities focused on Philadelphia’s watersheds. Learn about the quality of our waterways by exploring Delaware Valley Earth Force’s watershed map, viewing local water samples through microscopes with volunteers from the GlaxoSmithKline Science Ambassadors, and taking home native plant seeds that help protect your local water sources. EcoExpress will provide teachers with lesson plans aligned to Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Environment & Ecology and Science & Technology and the School District of Philadelphia’s Planning and Scheduling Timelines, so teachers can incorporate EcoExpress.org‘s ever-expanding library of videos and educational resources into their curriculum.

ECOEXPRESS is for everyone, so be sure to stop by BOOTH 74!

Science Carnival on the Parkway Details  >>

Science Carnival Map and Guide >>

Philadelphia Science Festival Details >>

Philadelphia Science Festival Schedule of Events >>