January: Comings & Goings

Mayor Kenney Appoints Christine Knapp New Leader of Mayor’s Office of Sustainability

Christine Knapp will head the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability during the Jim F. Kenney mayoral administration. Knapp has been a leader in Philadelphia’s sustainability community for over a decade; she led PennFuture’s Next Great City Campaign, headed Philadelphia’s Urban Sustainability Forum, and most recently served as deputy chief of staff and director of government affairs at the Philadelphia Water Department.

“I’m honored and excited to be chosen by Mayor-elect Kenney to serve as the director of the Office of Sustainability in his administration,” Knapp told Grid. “The office, under the leadership of Katherine Gajewski, has done a tremendous job over the last eight years, and I look forward to building on that work to ensure all Philadelphians can thrive in a healthy, sustainable city.”

Transition meetings between Knapp and Gajewski, who left the office voluntarily, have already begun. Knapp starts her new post this month.

Dawn Rittenhouse Receives Women in Sustainability Leadership Award

On Nov. 19, Green Building and Design magazine awarded Dawn Rittenhouse a Women in Sustainability Leadership Award. Twenty women were chosen nationally to celebrate “the achievements of women who are making lasting change and strive to identify, support and give opportunities to future women in leadership.” Rittenhouse is a Delaware Nature Society board member and the director of Sustainable Growth at DuPont, a 200-year-old chemical company headquartered in Wilmington, De. 

Greenlimbs’ Fifth Annual Treecycle Program  

Jan. 9 marks the fifth year that local environmental group Greenlimbs will host its Treecycle program. Inspired by the work of Northern Liberties Neighbors Association and Passyunk Square Civic Association, Greenlimbs’ Treecycle is a sustainable holiday tree disposal program that diverts holiday greens from landfills by installing collection sites in Pennsport, Queen Village, Society Hill, Washington Square West and Bella Vista. The trees and greens will be chipped and donated to city parks and vacant lots for beautification projects.

The Treecycle project is supported by Bartlett Tree Experts and Whole Foods Market. Since the program began in 2011, Greenlimbs estimates that it has recycled over 1,500 trees, providing mulch to schoolyards and senior centers and deterring weed growth in vacant lots. Visit
greenlimbs.com for a full list of Treecycling sites and volunteer opportunities.

Philadelphia Prison System Recognized by EPA for Food Recovery Project

On Nov. 24, the Environmental Protection Agency recognized the Philadelphia Prison System with an honorable mention for innovation for its food recovery project. The Riverside Correctional Facility and House of Correction facilities produce an estimated 1.35 tons of wasted food per day. Their food waste is now being diverted from its usual course to the landfill and is instead sent to a composting facility or used to nourish the plant and vegetable gardens on prison grounds. 

After the compost is finished, it is donated to local communities and used in the Philadelphia Prisons Orchard Project, which produces fruit for donation and use within the prison system.

The new composting procedure was conceived by Laura Cassidy, executive assistant to the commissioner and Green Program coordinator/project manager in 2013. It is estimated to save the city $31,000 per year in landfill fees. It also works to provide inmates with hands-on job training in horticulture and urban gardening.

Philadelphia Water Recognizes Popi’s Italian Restaurant as 2015 Stormwater Pioneer

On Nov. 19, Popi’s Italian Restaurant in South Philadelphia was named Philadelphia Water Department’s (PWD) 2015 Stormwater Pioneer. Gina Rucci, Popi’s co-owner, was awarded a plaque to celebrate the stormwater-diverting rain gardens the restaurant installed, which were funded by a $94,860 grant garnered through PWD’s Stormwater Management Incentives Program. PWD also honored the managing and design team for the project—Lakash Constructors, Wilkinson & Associates and Ruppert Landscape.

Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University Sign Intent to Merge

The boards of trustees of Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University announced on Dec. 17 that they had signed a letter of intent to exclusively pursue the integration of the two universities. The merger will develop over the course of a three-year transition, in which time Philadelphia University will retain its name. 

This new partnership is expected to expand the academic dynamism of both universities by integrating studies to develop new courses.

The merger is the third for Jefferson University since Stephen K. Klasko became chief executive in September 2013. The deal is expected to be finalized early this year.

A Philadelphia Climate Adaptation Report and a Carbon Reduction Report are Released

Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia, Philadelphia’s first climate adaptation report, was released by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability on Dec. 1. The 60-page report details Philadelphia’s climate projections, vulnerability assessments for city-owned assets and adaptation strategies for a “warmer and wetter climate.” 

Drexel University also released Options for Achieving Deep Reductions in Carbon Emissions in Philadelphia by 2050, a report funded by the university’s Institute for Energy and the Environment and prepared for the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. It shows possible pathways for reducing Philadelphia’s carbon emissions 80 percent over 2012 levels by the year 2050.

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to Award Neighborhood Placemaker Grants

On Dec. 22, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) began accepting ideas from Philadelphia-based organizations for its Neighborhood Placemaker Grants. The grants will donate between $15,000 and $25,000 to help fund horticultural projects that enhance or create sustainable public spaces, build communities, or exemplify Philadelphia as a city with notable civic landscapes. 

PHS will host an information session Jan. 6 at 5 p.m. at its headquarters, 100 North 20th Street. Letters of interest will be accepted until Feb. 12 and can be submitted through phsonline.org.