2013 FPAC Year in Review

TFPAC_logohe Food Policy Advisory Council of Philadelphia (FPAC) is a Mayor-appointed body that facilitates the development of responsible policies that improve access for Philadelphia residents to culturally appropriate, nutritionally sound, and affordable food that is grown locally through environmentally sustainable practices. Thanks to the hard work and sustained collaborative effort between FPAC appointed members, supporters, and staff, the FPAC had a productive 2013 and is looking forward to maintaining that momentum in 2014.

Below is an overview of the FPAC’s accomplishments last year. If you would like to get involved in any of the sub-committees, please email fpac@phila.gov.

Questions about FPAC’s 2013 or plans for the coming year? Join FPAC Coordinator Hannah Chatterjee for a live Twitter Q&A on Friday, April 4th from noon to 1PM @GreenworksPhila (use #phillyfpac).

  • General FPAC

The Council established 2 new sub-committees to tackle issues thus far unaddressed by the FPAC, Local Food Procurement and Zero Waste, and also reconvened the Anti-Hunger sub-committee. Appointed members adopted 5 articles for the FPAC by-laws (review them here). The Council appointed 14 new members, and secured a full-time FPAC Coordinator.

Appointed members adopted a standing meeting time and location for the 2014 general FPAC meetings, taking place on the first Wednesday of every other month starting in February, from 3pm to 5pm on the 18th floor of the One Parkway Building (1515 Arch St), Room 18-022.

  • Anti-Hunger Sub-committee

The Anti-Hunger sub-committee reconvened in October 2013 with 6 core members.

Sub-committee members hosted the first FPAC town hall in November 2013 – a focus group with restaurant industry workers surveying participants about their habits and practices around healthy food, food access, and the internet.

Surprisingly, the town hall results showed that 72% of the participants are online more than 5 hours a day, and that many of the participants had no idea where to go for information about food resources such as SNAP and food pantries. The sub-committee will use the information gathered at the town hall to inform the food resources toolkit that the members are currently developing in order to mitigate the effects of the November 2013 SNAP budget cuts.

  • Communications and Outreach Sub-committee

Sub-committee members drafted the Media and Communications Guidelines outlining the FPAC’s internal and external communications strategy (adopted June 2013). The FPAC is committed to interacting more with the Philadelphia community, and will be sending members out to speak and table at community events, for which the sub-committee developed FPAC outreach materials. If you know of a community-based organization whose members might like to hear more about the FPAC, please get in touch with chair Hannah Chatterjee.

  • Governance and Membership Sub-committee

Sub-committee members drafted the following 4 articles for the by-laws:

Interim Member Nomination, Application, and Appointment Process Article, standardizing the nomination process for future FPAC members through the member nomination form (approved January 2013); Duties of Appointed Members, Co-chairs and Coordinator Article, detailing the responsibilities of each position on the FPAC (approved April 2013); Attendance Policy for Appointed Members (approved April 2013); Resignation Policy (approved April 2013). The sub-committee is currently working on a Conflict of Interest Policy for the FPAC.

  •  Local Food Procurement Sub-committee

The Local Food Procurement Sub-committee was established in May 2013. Sub-committee members have begun a conversation about and are currently planning the next steps for a project that will adapt the city’s procurement policies to encourage the purchase of local food. The sub-committee is looking to start a pilot program with a City agency in 2014.

  •  Vacant Land Sub-committee

With full support from the FPAC, the Land Bank Bill was passed in December 2013.

As the new bill gets rolled out, the sub-committee along with several partners will conduct a vacant land inventory project that will provide critical data and information on the usability of vacant lots for urban agriculture and gardens.

  • Zero Waste Sub-committee

The Zero Waste Sub-committee was established in October 2013. Members are working on a white paper to determine how the City can support waste minimization, composting, and recycling in Philadelphia in order to achieve “zero waste.” The sub-committee has started by assembling information about problems related to food waste, and plans to encourage more commercial food composting and recycling to build on the policies and infrastructure that are already in place.

Citywide Benchmarking Update

In our last blog entry, we mentioned Philadelphia’s citywide benchmarking program, through which large non-residential buildings are reporting their energy and water usage using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. We’ll be releasing full results on this program’s first year in the next few weeks, but we wanted to give you a sneak preview today.

benchmarking Chart_highres

As of today, about 1600 buildings have benchmarked in the city. While this is a small percentage of the overall number of buildings, it’s around 20% of Philadelphia’s overall square footage and total energy usage. While the majority of large non-residential buildings in Philadelphia perform at or above national averages, hundreds fall well below this threshold. Raising the performance of these buildings (which can take the form of everything from operational improvements—that’s turning off the lights and the computers, which we’re sure everyone reading this is already doing—to comprehensive energy retrofits) to meet national averages for similar facilities would reduce energy consumption for benchmarked buildings by 23% and citywide consumption by 3.5%. To put that in context, the Greenworks Philadelphia Target for citywide building energy usage is a 10% reduction—just bringing the lowest-performance buildings up to average gets us a third of the way there.

Why does this matter? Take just electricity usage: per the Energy Information Administration, it cost commercial customers in Pennsylvania an average of 9.5 cents a kilowatt hour to power buildings in 2012. For those buildings that reported their 2012 usage, this works out to more than $390 million in annual electricity payments. By bringing the underperforming facilities up to speed, those costs fall to just over $300 million. That’s $90 million for Philadelphia’s businesses, hospitals, churches, and schools to spend elsewhere. Again, that’s just for electricity, and only for those buildings that are underperforming. There are energy-saving opportunities in high-performing facilities, too!

Saving energy in buildings is also a key part of Philadelphia’s climate action goals. Building energy usage accounts for more than half of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and these 1600 buildings specifically represent 10% of overall emissions. Bringing those underperforming buildings up to par mean for carbon emissions would be the equivalent of removing thousands of cars from Philadelphia’s roads each year.

But to be clear: the act of benchmarking alone will not save anyone money, and will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Benchmarking does give building owners, managers, and tenants the right information to make decisions and take action, though, which is why it’s so important as a first step. MOS is excited to continue working with its partners on plans to improve the performance of Philadelphia’s building stock. The city was recently selected as one of ten participants in the City Energy Project, a ground-breaking effort to collaborate on policies and practices to reduce energy usage in buildings, and we look forward to discussing more about what this means for Philadelphia in the coming weeks and months.

Questions? Join MOS (@GreenworksPhila) for our first-ever live Twitter Q&A forum on commercial benchmarking, Wednesday, March 19th at 12PM.