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108 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All

Gorgeous Wyncote rain garden becomes a teachable moment

Mary E. Myers, a landscape architect and associate professor at Temple University, created a lush rain garden in suburban Philadelphia. Folks in the neighborhood have taken notice. 

"I wanted to increase biodiversity, but I wanted it to be aesthetically appealing, so that people would accept it and want to do it," said Ms. Myers, 62, standing by the sweep of blue mistflowers rolling down to the sidewalk. "People walk by and say, 'What’s that? It’s beautiful.'"

She often gives them some seeds or self-seeded native plants. And when someone from down the street longs for those blue mistflowers, she says, "Don’t worry, the wind will bring them to you."

With the shapes, colors and textures of more than 50 native species here — the elegant branching of the young black gum tree, the dogwood and shadbush turning deep red, the handsome seed heads of hibiscus, the fig-like fruits of the bottlebrush buckeye — this dynamic landscape is nothing like the scruffy patches of weeds too often referred to as rain gardens.

As Ms. Myers said, "It looks intentional and maintained..."

She counted 23 species when they moved in, 16 of them nonnative. Now the count is up to 127, most of them native.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Swimming the Cooper River in South Jersey

Baron Ambrosia swam the Cooper River through Camden in an act of civic good will. (Be sure to check out the slideshow.)

So began one man’s quest to paddle through Camden, known more for its high crime rate than its verdant waterways. With his five-mile swim along the Cooper, a tributary of the Delaware River, Baron Ambrosia aimed to change that.

“I’m trying to do something good for the city,” he said, highlighting urban exploration and environmental renewal. Born Justin Fornal, he has made a career of celebrating the gritty, most prominently as his alter-ego Baron, a fancifully attired Bronx foodhound with his own eccentric cable series (recently spotlighted by Anthony Bourdain on his CNN show). Last year, Mr. Fornal, 36, swam the Bronx River to promote his home borough, the first person recorded to do so. This year, asked by friends where he might take another dip, he settled on Camden as a similarly unsung landscape.


He completed his swim despite resistance from the city.

Undeterred, and without fanfare, Mr. Fornal decided to do the swim anyway, earlier than expected last week. “I just want to get in the water as quickly as possible,” he said, as he prepared to enter the river with three support canoes on Wednesday. They pushed off from a park in Collingswood, N.J., heading northwest through Camden toward Philadelphia. Even before the sun rose, they were spotted by some fishermen. “I was surprised to see them,” Mr. Fornal said, his head bobbing out of the water in a red Y.M.C.A. swim cap, “but I’m guessing they were more surprised to see us.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Stunning Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk earns national praise

The spectacular new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, connecting Locust Street to South Street, is a big hit. (And not only with Inga Saffron.)

The winding, gray concrete pathway gives visitors the unique sensation of having water on both sides of them, Joseph Syrnick, president and CEO of the Schuylkill River Development Corp., said Tuesday as he walked the 15-foot-wide boardwalk prior to its opening.

"You feel like you're on the river," Syrnick said, noting the similarity between the scoring of the concrete and traditional New Jersey shore boardwalks. "This becomes a destination spot."

The $18 million structure serves as small but crucial link in what planners hope will be a 130-mile trail from Schuylkill County to Philadelphia. About 60 miles of the trail are finished, according to the Schuylkill River Trail Association.


Original source: The Associated Press; via Huffington Post
Read the complete story here.

Could 'America's Best Restroom' be right in our backyard?

Longwood Gardens is a finalist in Cinta's 'America's Best Restroom' contest -- vote now!

The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens, the most visited public garden in America, deserve a double-take as you walk by. That’s because the 17 restrooms themselves are part of the largest indoor "Green Wall" in North America!

The staff at Longwood worked with artist Kim Wilkie on an unprecedented feat of bathroom architecture. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll understand. Aside from the restrooms’ lush greenery, they also feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the "Green Wall." In addition, each restroom contains etched translucent glass at the top of the dome to provide natural light, reduce electricity and minimize the need for light fixtures.

Longwood Gardens traces its roots to the famed du Pont family and has become preeminent for its grand collection of plant life. Now, its restrooms also share in the spotlight.

"The restrooms at Longwood have become a ‘must-see’ for our one million annual visitors, and we even have docents nearby to share the story of their creation," says Patricia Evans, communications manager at Longwood Gardens. "To be named America’s Best Restroom would be a testament to our creativity and environmental stewardship."


Via Curbed Philly; check out their coverage of this amazing bathroom.

Original source: Cinta
 

'Virtuous fast food' is on the rise in urban centers, including Philadelphia

The rapidly-expanding fast casual market is trending towards local, healthy, sustainably-sourced food. Philadelphia is now home to some of these national chains, in addition to homegrown examples such as Pure Fare

A handful of rapidly growing regional chains around the country — including Tender GreensLYFE Kitchen, SweetGreen and Native Foods — offer enticements like grass-fed beef, organic produce, sustainable seafood and menus that change with the season. Most promise local ingredients; some are exclusively vegetarian or even vegan. A few impose calorie ceilings, and others adopt service touches like busboys and china plates...

SweetGreen, which has 27 outlets in and around the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, was started in 2007 by three Georgetown University seniors and is tightly connected to that younger demographic; its founders, Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman, are all still under 30. (Mr. Jammet grew up in the kitchen, the son of André and Rita Jammet, who owned La Caravelle, the luxe New York restaurant that closed in 2004.)


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

The city simplifies rules for farmers' markets

PlanPhilly reports on changes to how the city regulates farmers' markets.

Last week City Council approved changes that eliminate the farmers’ market licensing fee, simplify the rules for operating a market and require a simplified registration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health...

“There’s been a real growth in farmers’ markets in recent years, and so these rules were kind of updated to reflect their popularity, and folks in public health have come to view farmers’ markets as good sources of fruits and vegetables for people, so the code kind of reflects the changing times,” said Nicky Uy, senior associate of the farmers’ market program at The Food Trust, which operates 25 farmers markets in Philadelphia and has plans to open four more this year.

 
Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here.

Transit-oriented development Paseo Verde dedicated in North Philly

Paseo Verde, an exciting community-supported project in North Philadelphia, was recently completed. It is hopefully a standard-bearer in transit-oriented development.

Paseo Verde, a super green, mixed-use, mixed income community hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning. The complex is the country's very first Platinum LEED certified Neighborhood Development, a distinction that it earned by creating an eco-friendly, transit focused project with the goal of "providing a healthy living environment for residents through sustainable practices, as well as cost savings through effective reduction in energy use."

Even Paseo Verde's most expensive apartments wouldn't fall into the luxury price range, but it does seem that they'll be offering quite a few luxury amenities: residents will get access to a fitness center, community rooms, a technology center, gardening plots, and green roofs.

Original source: Curbed Philly
Read the complete story here.

The Atlantic Cities asks why water infrastructure is so neglected; Philly is an exception

Water infrastructure has been neglected nationally in recent years; Philadelphia, with its Green City, Clean Waters initiative, is actually an exception.

On its 2013 report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. water infrastructure a D. Even the nation’s best water systems are ancient -- we have over 240,000 water main breaks each year -- and unprepared for a mix of current challenges that includes climate change, tightening budgets, growing urban populations, and pharmaceutical contaminants. This spring, after record-setting rains, Detroit had no choice but to pour several hundred million gallons of raw sewage into the Great Lakes...

Occasionally, the political stars align. In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter has turned a green infrastructure initiative designed to reduce combined sewer overflow -- the same phenomenon that has plagued Detroit -- into a quality-of-life issue and one of his signature achievements


Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here.

Green development Folsom Powerhouse comes to Francisville

Postgreen Homes is teaming up with Equinox Management & Construction LLC to build the Folsom Powerhouse, a 31-unit mixed-income green housing project in Francisville.

Postgreen and Equinox are also aided by ISA Architects, who designed the project, and Studio Bryan Hanes, who is responsible for the landscaping. The development will feature energy efficient design, with solar power, green roof technology and advanced storm water management practices. It’s proximity to public transit, nearby shops and the Francisville community center will give residents great access to amenities and necessities.

"Our proposal adapted Folsom’s fabric and the City’s best practices in urban planning," explained Chad Ludeman, President of Postgreen Homes. "The Powerhouse name is indicative of our commitment to extreme energy efficiency, giving residents the power to live with community and environmental consciousness in mind."


Original source: Inhabitat
Read the complete story here.

The Atlantic Cities highlights Fishtown's 'Rust Belt Rising Almanac'

The Atlantic Cities chatted with Nic Esposito, urban farmer and founder of The Head & The Hand Press.

A small publisher and writers' workspace, The Head & the Hand Press, has just published Rust Belt Rising Almanac, a literary quarterly showcasing snapshots and essays on life in industrial American cities (including, of course, Philadelphia). The volume invites "Courteous Readers" to read about escapes, remains, and models of growth, and is at turns cheeky and earnest, with such section titles as "On Reverse Pioneering," "On the Anatomy of Coal-Fired Power Plant," and "On the Collective and the Communal."

Original Source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here.
 

Metropolis profiles Philly's 'Doctor of Green'

Local sustainability expert Max Zahniser gets some love in Metropolis Magazine.

To give you a better idea of his philosophy, Zahniser will tell you that systems thinking is his foundation for understanding the world. He rejects a fragmented, specialized worldview and ascribes to the dawning “Age of Integration,” anticipated decades ago by Buckminster Fuller and Lewis Mumford. In contrast to healthy interdependence, Zahniser sees Philadelphia as an example of “dispersed environmental initiatives.” His new Sustainability Nexus enterprise aims to pull that all together.

Original source: Metropolis Magazine
Read the full story here.

 

AP showcases Vetri's 'Eatiquette' school lunch program

Chef Marc Vetri is bringing his 'Eatiquette' school lunch program to the People For People Charter School.

It sounds more like a restaurant order than a school lunch menu: baked ziti with a side of roasted fennel salad and, for dessert, cinnamon apple rice pudding.

But that's one of the meals offered in the cafeteria at People For People Charter School in Philadelphia. And it's served family-style. Students pass serving dishes around circular tables, where they eat off plates, not cafeteria trays, and use silverware instead of plastic utensils.

People For People is one of four schools participating in the "Eatiquette" program, which was designed by local chef Marc Vetri to provide nutritious, low-cost lunches in a setting that reinforces social niceties and communication skills.


Original source: The Associated Press
Read the full story here.

Historic PA farm opens its lands up to fracking

The owner of Dennis Farm, a historic farm in Susquehanna County, has signed a lease to allow fracking (a method of natural gas extraction) on the property. She hopes the funds will help her rehab the historic farmhouse, but critics have remained skeptical. Philadelphia’s City Council has held hearings on whether public water supplies could be contaminated by gas drilling in other parts of the state.

The owner, Denise Dennis, initially rejected an approach from Cabot Oil and Gas to lease part of her 153-acre farm in gas-rich Susquehanna County in northeastern Pennsylvania. But late last year she changed her mind and signed a lease that allows the company to drill horizontally below her land without sinking any wells within its boundaries.

Ms. Dennis is a direct descendant of Prince Perkins, a free black veteran of the Revolutionary War who came to Pennsylvania from Connecticut and bought the farm in 1793, beginning a continuous record of family ownership that is now in its eighth generation. Part of that legacy is a trove of historic and archaeological materials, including rare records from the Revolutionary and Civil wars as well as evidence that the farm was a stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves fleeing Southern states.


Original source: The New York Times' Green blog
Read the full story here.



ABC News praises developments at the Navy Yard

The Navy Yard earns some national attention from ABC News for its exciting work fostering business, entrepreneurship and green technology.

"There was a lot of uncertainty early on," said John Grady, president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. "People weren't sure what we were going to do to replace this engine of activity that was there."

Last week, The Navy Yard marked its 10,000-employee milestone and unveiled an update to its 2004 master plan that is forecasting 1,000 apartments, more parks and open space, more new construction and continued adaptive reuse of Navy-era industrial buildings.


Original source: ABC News
Read the full story here.

Local company Momentum Dynamics develops vital electric car tool

Malvern-based Momentum Dynamics has developed a wireless charging pad for the Chevy Volt. The 10-person startup is helping revolutionize charging technology for electric vehicles. The Daily News chatted with the company's founder.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for wireless charging?
A: I was working on a project to deliver solar power to troops during the Iraq war, which led me to a safe, short-distance method of transmitting power wirelessly. The clear application was electric vehicles. The challenge was not the vehicle or battery but the charging connection to the grid.


Original source: The Daily News
Read the full story here.

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