Mayor Kenney’s Commitment to Protected Bike Lanes Gaining Support
After a February announcement by Mayor Jim Kenney to add 30 miles of protected bike lanes to Philadelphia’s streets (and an announcement to create Philadelphia’s first-ever department of Complete Streets), advocates are pushing for progress. The urbanist PAC 5th Square is actively fundraising in order to galvanize support in the neighborhoods where construction would take place. They are also calling for volunteers to help organize supporters in those same neighborhoods.
Current bike lanes faced stiff opposition from neighbors fearful that they would impact traffic and parking. A map of the proposed bike lanes is available on the website of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
University City District Awarded $300,000 to Launch Green City Works
The Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN) in March selected University City District (UCD) to receive a $300,000, two-year implementation grant through its Win-Win Challenge. The funds will be used to launch Green City Works, a new social enterprise that will provide groundskeeping services while developing job skills and advancement opportunities for low-income workers interested in landscaping trades. Green City Works is an extension of UCD’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative program.
Navy Yard Selected as a Location to Study Advanced Electric Grid Technology
The Department of Energy is funding a project to install new electricity grid technology at the Navy Yard. Once a working U.S. naval base that still has its own electricity grid, the South Philadelphia location is ideally suited to study technologies that may be more widely adopted throughout the country. The technology to be studied was developed to provide real-time visibility and deep analytics for power distribution circuits, something that will enable the U.S. to meet the changing electricity needs of the country, including more widespread adoption of solar electricity generation. Though the technology has been employed in several other locations, this pilot installation will be the first to employ data analytics with real system conditions.
Philadelphia Small Business Lender Wins National Award
The Small Business Administration has awarded the Jody C. Raskind Lender of the Year Award to FINANTA, a nonprofit that “promotes the growth and economic expansion of diverse Philadelphia communities through the infusion of capital and the provision of business consultation services and homeownership counseling.” FINANTA, short for FINancial ANd Technical Assistance, has closed more than 1,000 loans, totaling more than $44 million, that benefit small businesses in underserved markets in Philadelphia.
Foodies Celebrate New Book by Philadelphia’s ‘Madame Fromage’
Tenaya Darlington, the Philadelphia food writer and St. Joseph’s University food writing teacher also known as “Madame Fromage,” has released a new book. “The New Cocktail Hour” (Running Press, April 2016), which she co-authored with her brother, André Darlington, updates recipes on classic cocktails and offers pairing selections as well as advice on cocktail syrups and shrubs.
PECO Gets LEED Certification for Philadelphia Headquarters
In April, PECO announced it earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its Philadelphia headquarters.
The certification is the result of a multi-year, $15.3 million environmental initiative to improve the sustainability of PECO’s buildings and operations. PECO’s headquarters comprises nearly 1.5 million square feet of building space, representing 80 percent of the total square footage of all PECO buildings.
Hackett Elementary School Nears Green Renovation Goals
In late April, local and state officials joined Friends of Hackett at the Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School in a groundbreaking ceremony for proposed environmental and functional improvements to their asphalt schoolyard in Kensington. A fund drive is now in place to finance the $1.4 million project, which will feature new green spaces, outdoor classrooms and an ADA-compliant, accessible playground for the school and surrounding community.
Minority-Owned Businesses to get Boost from Federal Grant
A grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a series of investments to be administered through West Philadelphia’s Enterprise Center, will provide investments to minority- and women-owned businesses in the city. The special fund has a focus on bridging the investment gap for businesses that have strong performance and growth potential but sit below the threshold of attracting traditional equity investment.
Jidan, a minority- and woman-owned commercial cleaning service that has offices in Medford, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, is the recipient of the first round of investments. The company will be able to increase its full- and part-time staff and to offer employee benefits as it grows as a result of the award.
Big Buildings Increase Efficiency for Energy Reduction Race
On Earth Day, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the winners of the yearlong Energy Reduction Race, the Office of Sustainability’s competition to save energy in the city’s largest buildings. Twelve buildings met the race’s 5-percent reduction target, and overall winners were selected in three categories. The winning buildings are the Iroko Pharmaceuticals building at the Navy Yard, Two Logan Square and the Comcast Center.
“The Energy Reduction Race is an example of how competition spurs action, and you can see that impact in the results of this program,” said Mayor Kenney in a press release. “The race benefits not just the individual participants but the city as a whole.”
The winning buildings each received $5,000 stipends toward further energy efficiency work.