A Cut Above: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia gets serious about going green with EcoCHOP

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is no stranger to innovation. Consider it’s new EcoCHOP initiative, which aims to implement responsible practices—from recycling, building and purchasing, to more healthcare-specific areas—that ultimately care for the health of the environment.

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The Reusers: In the waste recycling business, Revolution Recovery is lapping the field

Since 2008, Revolution Recovery has

- Kept 63000 tons out of landfills  
- Added 38 green jobs to the local economy
- Completed waste management for 250 LEED projects

At Revolution Recovery, founders and co-owners Avi Golen and Jon Wybar are reinventing the construction waste recycling industry.

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There Is a Light That Sometimes Goes Out: Lutron has been making cutting-edge, energy-saving light switches for 50 years

In 1959, a light bulb illuminated, perhaps gradually, in Brooklyn native Joel Spira’s head. His proverbial bright idea was for a switch that would allow people to vary the intensity of their lighting, and at long last, he’d done it. À la Thomas Edison, Spira emerged from the spare bedroom-turned-makeshift lab in his home with a solid-state rotary dimmer. In 1961, inspired by his innovation, he founded Lutron Electronics, a lighting company with an environmentally conscious edge.
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Go With the Flow: The Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters plan gushes with possibilities

When Philadelphia received a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1997 to improve its combined sewer system, the initial solution wasn’t so great. The plan called for replacing old pipes, building more tunnels—using manmade constructions to better handle stormwater. Streets would be dug up, improvements would be made mostly underground and waterway restoration would take a long time. And renovations were expensive.
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Bright Future: DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara is putting Delaware on the right path

Collin O’Mara’s first two years as the secretary of energy and the environment have given the state of Delaware some serious sustainability bragging rights. Thanks to its youngest appointed cabinet member (he was appointed in 2009 when he was 29 years old), the state now supports green building and energy efficiency programs, the first statewide curbside recycling pick-up service and legislation promoting green jobs. And that’s just the beginning. O’Mara, who is also a LEED-accredited professional, came to Delaware from San Jose, Calif., where he lead the city’s Green Vision project and a citywide green economic development initiative. GRID spoke with O’Mara about his decision to come to Delaware, the benefits of being a small state and how being young has become an asset. 
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Midnight Train to Maine: How I got to Vacationland via bike and rail

Every August, I head up to Maine for vacation. My dad lives on Harpswell peninsula, just south of Brunswick, and my girlfriend’s family stays at an inn on the beach in Scarborough, 10 miles south of Portland. This year, I ditched the car and plane for the train and bicycle. The original plan was to send my bike via UPS to Portland; I would catch up to it there, assemble it, then bike on to dad’s. Easy, right?
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Tyler Talks Trash: Wipe out

Do you ever wonder about napkins? I’m Tyler the Trash Guy, so I think about them constantly. Napkins are almost universally perceived as cost-free items that can be liberally obtained in any quantity, without question. Why do you need napkins? Do you spill food at every sitting? (Do people think I’m dirty for denying them any chance I get?)

In my waste-free utopia, napkins wouldn’t be provided unless asked for, with businesses in full control of how many are dispensed. Consider this: How many times have you either taken or received napkins with a meal, only to throw most or all of them, unused, in the trash when you’re finished eating? Over the last few weeks, I’ve been observing people when they get up to leave a restaurant. I notice that unused napkins almost always get trashed.

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Urban Naturalist: Honk if you like geese

My wife, Jen, adores Canada geese. She especially loves the fluffy goslings that graze alongside their parents throughout grassy Philadelphia, but she waves to the adults, too. Jen might be the only Philadelphian I’ve met who likes the geese, and, like anyone whose spouse holds a dangerously contrarian position, I am bound to publicly agree with her.
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Itty Bitty Brewery: The new Saint Benjamin nanobrewery plans to keep its batches incredibly small, and its reach incredibly local

When Tim Patton moved to Philadelphia in 2006, going into the beer business wasn’t even on his radar.

“I came up from Wilmington, where I’d started an Internet business,” he says. “I wanted to get out of the suburbs, so I moved up here to find something else to do with my life.”  

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Put It In Your Pocket: How the garden at Southwest Philly’s Mitten cooperative house became the neighborhood-magnet Pocket Farm

"Kids will knock on our door and ask for collards for their grandmum,” says Emily Wren, one of six members of Mitten, a cooperative house of twentysomething coeds that runs an urban farming venture in Southwest Philadelphia known as Pocket Farm. What began three years ago as a household garden to grow food for Mitten and a neighboring house has quite literally blossomed into a community effort. When neighbors began noticing the vibrant colors and scents of fresh veggies, requests for produce and farming education began pouring in.

The garden needed to grow, and fast.

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Shoots & Ladders: That's a wrap

October’s waning days and crisp evenings provide welcome relief from the summer’s brutal heat, but it’s a bittersweet reward: The summer’s bounty is already nothing more than a bright delicious memory, and your garden is largely in hibernation. If your recall is anything like mine, though, it’s a great time to document your gardening triumphs and your brown thumb travails before March hits and you think, “Now, what was it that I was going to do to keep my tomatoes alive? Dance naked in the moonlight while chanting the lyrics to ‘Eye of the Tiger’? Or was it something about marigolds?” So, pull out that frilly journal from Aunt Sally and take a few notes. Your neighbors will appreciate it.
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Book Review: The Neighborhood Project

The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time
by David Sloan Wilson
Little Brown (2011), $25.99

In David Sloan Wilson’s fifth book, the evolutionary biologist chronicles his attempt to use Darwin’s theory of evolution to improve the quality of life in his town of Binghamton, N.Y. It’s an ambitious goal, especially since the concept is a bit vague and obscure. What do Darwin and evolution have to do with the well-being of cities and individuals?

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Sustainable Communities in Action: Sustainable 19125

Philadelphia, as the old trope goes, is a city of neighborhoods. While each has its own concerns and culture, sustainability is a key for all in establishing and maintaining a neighborhood that nurtures and uplifts those who live there. In our Sustainable Communities in Action series, GRID will highlight organizations that are working to make their neighborhoods greener, safer places that residents can feel proud of.

Residents of the east kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond areas of the city are served by Sustainable 19125, an innovative community partnership created by the New Kensington Community Development Corp. (NKCDC) to address sustainability issues and quality-of-life concerns. The initiative’s goal is equal parts community revitalization, greening and neighbor-to-neighbor camaraderie.

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Recycling Challenge: Construction Waste


Building-related construction and demolition waste totals approximately 170 million tons per year, roughly two-thirds of all non-industrial solid waste generation in the U.S.


Total annual construction and demolition waste (“C&D waste” in the biz) equates to 3.2 pounds of building-related materials per person in the U.S., per day. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 52 percent of this ends up in a landfill. Sources of building-related C&D debris in the waste stream include demolition (approximately 48 percent of the annual waste stream), renovation (44 percent) and new construction (8 percent). It is economically viable to recycle the majority of this waste, as the cost to transport and dispose of C&D waste can be more than 2 percent of a project’s cost.

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No Such Thing?: Believe it or not, electric vehicles are coming to Philadelphia

For years, the electric vehicle has been mentioned in hushed tones, believed to be the second coming of sorts for our car-dependent society, a clean-running innovation that would allow us to keep up our driving habit without that messy foreign-oil guilt. Yet electric cars have seemed as mythical as Sasquatch—often spoken of, but rarely, if ever, seen in the wild. That’s about to change for Philadelphians. In October, 16 of these lean, green driving machines will be hitting Philadelphia streets thanks to PhillyCarShare (PCS), the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP).
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