The temperatures in the high 70s this week are a reminder that summer will be here before you know it. And with warmer weather comes the constant hum of air conditioning. Have you ever come home from work on a sweltering July day and turned up your AC or fans just to cool down?
Well, you’re not alone. And for our regional electricity grid, all those residents switching on their air conditioning means high demand for energy during the hottest part of the afternoon. To help offset this demand, large property owners including the City of Philadelphia participate in a load management program.
Here’s how it works: When the grid is stressed by high demand, building operators in City-owned facilities reduce the energy consumed in those buildings. By turning up our thermostats a few degrees and cycling certain building equipment off and on, the City helps to avoid brown-outs, blackouts, and can prevent equipment damage.
Even better, participating in this program generates revenue. Over the past five years, the City has earned nearly $2 million dollars through our regional grid operator PJM’s emergency demand response program. Through its other load management programs, the City has avoided millions more in energy costs. Not bad for a few hours’ work.
With recent legal clarity around a few of the more critical programs, the City is now looking toward the future of load management, and is seeking a new vendor to help coordinate this program.
If you’ve experienced the Philadelphia Marathon in the past few years, either as a participant or spectator, you probably think first of the crowds: one of the largest marathons in the country, the Philadelphia Marathon draws nearly 100,000 people each year. But with all those people comes a lot of waste: thousands of pounds of water bottles, banana peels, and energy bar wrappers.
For the past four years, the Philadelphia Marathon has worked with Waste Watchers, a partnership between the Office of Sustainability and the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, to divert much of that waste away from the landfill. At the beginning and end of the Marathon and at water stops along the way, hundreds of Waste Watchers volunteers help event-goers sort their trash, recycling, and compost into the right containers.
The result? Each year, Waste Watchers helps the Marathon divert more than nine tons of waste from the landfill. Had it been thrown away, this waste would have contributed to ground pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, it is re-purposed into recycled goods and soil amendments.
In 2015 Waste Watchers helped the Marathon reach 90 percent waste diversion, a new record and the widely-accepted definition of “zero waste.” It’s an amazing achievement, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of Philadelphians to sustainability and volunteer service.