Green for All

Why Paso Verde is the most important green building development in Philadelphia

For Paseo Verde, APM chose to build on an empty lot that Philadelphia Gas Works employees were using for parking right beside SEPTA’s Temple University Regional Rail station. | Photo by Jeffrey Totaro

On a recent afternoon, Latifa Patton prepares three giant aluminum baking pans full of aromatic macaroni and cheese with vegetables. The kitchen of her three-bedroom townhouse in the mixed-income Paseo Verde development in North Philadelphia is lined with succulents. The living room is an oasis of potted palms, orchids and colorful cushions.

Patton says people ask how she can afford to outfit her home this way. She makes $7.50 an hour at a work-study job; and with the help of student loans, she supports her nine-year-old daughter and two-year-old son while earning a degree in social work at Community College of Philadelphia. “I go to thrift stores. I’m creative,” she says. “I love my house. It’s why I have to make it comfortable.”

Before she was accepted as one of Paseo Verde’s first tenants for its subsidized apartments, Patton and her children were homeless and had been living in a shelter for a year. Now, she pays just $302 a month in rent at Paseo Verde.

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GreenBuild Brings the World to Our Doorstep

Greenbuild Conference & Expo puts Philadelphia in the spotlight 

November 20 - 22 

Imagine starting your day with a breakfast where you are privy to some of the top minds in the sustainability industry. Afterwards, you head to a lecture by Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Then, full of inspiration, you explore an expo featuring the world’s leading green building and design products and services. Later that afternoon, you attend an educational session titled “Reinventing Philadelphia Through Green Infrastructure,” and are flooded with practical applications for the info you absorbed in earlier sessions. Finally, as the sun sets over the Philadelphia Convention Center, Hillary Rodham Clinton takes the stage to deliver a keynote speech.

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DVGBC Helps Transform Smith Playground Into Sustainable Adventureland

This submarine-in-the-making will be part of the new Smith PlaygroundLocated in a section of East Fairmount Park adjacent to the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of Philadelphia for over 100 years, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse has provided a safe place to play for generations of Philadelphia children. Soon it will also provide them with a new way to interact with the natural environment that surrounds them as they play. In March, the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC) announced that it had selected Smith Playground as the site for a Legacy Project that will be part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual conference (Greenbuild) to be held in Philadelphia in November 2013.

To create a youth-designed environment that promotes play and encourages connection with nature, Smith has teamed up with Public Workshop, an organization that works with youth and their communities to shape the design of their neighborhoods. Work is currently underway at Smith to build a permanent “adventure playground” with themed "islands" that encourage children to interact with the natural environment around them and make things with recycled or renewable materials like plastic bottles or bamboo. 

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Lasting Impression: An innovative building for a forward-thinking collection

story by Shaun Brady | photos from The Barnes

While the Barnes Foundation is best known for its priceless art collection—which now resides in a new $150-million building on the Ben Franklin Parkway—its founding mission extended beyond the man-made wonders hanging on the walls to the natural beauty outside of them. The recent relocation has left most of the Barnes’ horticultural program behind at its previous home in Merion, but the new digs were designed and built using sustainable practices fully in line with that original green vision.

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Cultural Shift: Philadelphia's major institutions embrace green building practices

story by Kristen Dowd

Walls made from plastic bottles. Rainwater recycled to flush toilets. Electricity generated from the sun. Green building is on the rise across the nation, and institutions in the Philadelphia region are prime examples. While only some have official Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, all have a common mission: to reduce their carbon footprint and educate visitors about the benefits of sustainable design. Below are six institutions in and around the
Philadelphia region leading this movement.

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Help Makeover a Philly Rec Center and Win $1,500!

Image via dvgbc.orgThere is something about the new year that compels us to make some serious lifestyle changes. Before you give in to that inexplicable pull to let your hairdresser go beyond a trim, consider directing your makeover impulses toward one of Philadelphia’s aging recreation centers.  There are currently approximately 160 recreation centers in Philadelphia, however, most aren't living up to their green potential. Help Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation Department reimagine some of these centers by entering the Delaware Valley Green Building Council’s (DVGBC) eighth annual Sustainable Design Competition. Dream up ways to make your favorite community meeting place more energy efficient, manage stormwater more effectively or increase the spread of sustainable living information to your neighbors. If you’re a student or young professional interested in eco-friendly design, share your innovative ideas with the DVGBC for the chance to win $1,500! Registration is currently open to the public at and the final day for submissions is April 30 by 12 p.m. A panel of judges will evaluate the entries and choose the winners who will be awarded at a ceremony May 3.

- Missy Steinberg

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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