Interview: New Director of Sustainability Christine Knapp


CK headshotPhiladelphia’s new Director of Sustainability Christine Knapp discusses her new job, her first job, and the challenges ahead.

Q: Welcome! You’ve been on the job for a month and a half now. How has it been?

Christine: It’s been a busy and exciting seven weeks! The staff at the Office of Sustainability have been tremendously helpful in getting me up to speed on all of their work and visions for our next phase.  I’ve also gotten a lot of support and encouragement from colleagues throughout City government and from external partners, which has been wonderful.

Q: You have a mix of advocacy and government experience. How do you think that will help you in your new role?

Christine: I think having experience in both sectors helps me to understand the roles that all stakeholders can and should have in helping to meet our collective goals. I believe strongly in the ability of government to lead, but I know it has limitations. I also know the advocacy community can help to drive policy, engage new audiences and hold government accountable- all of which are critical to success.

Q: 2015 marked the end of the original timeline for the city’s comprehensive sustainability plan, Greenworks. What’s next?

Christine: Mayor Kenney is committed to continuing on the great work that has been done by the Office of Sustainability over the last eight years. Our first step will be to update Greenworks as our comprehensive sustainability framework. We want to gather feedback from the community, from issue experts and from other City agencies to create a plan that works for everyone.

Q: Philadelphia is already experiencing climate change – more extreme weather, flooding, and an increasing number of high heat days? What is the City doing from a planning perspective to deal with a changing climate?

Christine: In December, we released the City’s first climate adaptation report “Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia,” which details the impacts climate change could have on the city and lays out recommendations for action to mitigate those impacts. Luckily, many of our City departments are already taking actions to help adapt to a wetter and warmer climate, such as the Green City, Clean Waters green infrastructure program being implemented by Philadelphia Water, or Philadelphia Parks and Recreation piloting new forest restoration practices to identify practices suitable for our changing climate. We will be looking at how to support City departments in carrying out these recommendations, while also trying to reduce carbon emissions.

Q: We noticed a change in the department’s name – “Mayor’s” has been dropped. You’re now the Office of Sustainability. What’s that all about?

Christine: In November of 2014, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to make the office permanent. That means we now stand as our own independent office outside of the Mayor’s office. This change creates an opportunity for us to work even more closely with operating departments, whose collaboration and partnership has been critical to our shared success.

Q: We know about your current job, but what was your very first job?

Christine: I worked at a bagelry on Long Island called the Bagel Nook. I’m still a bit of a bagel snob, but Philly has really stepped up its bagel game in the last few years!

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Philadelphia to Take Part in SEED Collaborative

Mayor Kenney announced today that the City will take part in the Standard Energy Efficiency Data (SEED) Collaborative, a free open-source database platform to track the energy performance of buildings throughout Philadelphia.

The SEED platform will help the City’s Office of Sustainability manage energy benchmarking data for nearly 2,000 commercial, municipal, and school buildings, along with 800 multi-family properties to be added to the program in the coming year.

“Philadelphia is an early leader in the benchmarking and disclosure of building energy information, and making use of the SEED platform will only improve that report,” Mayor Kenney said.  “We look forward to being an example for other cities as they look to increase sustainable energy use and limit greenhouse gas emissions.”

In cooperation with the Department of Energy, Office of Sustainability will work to integrate SEED with existing benchmarking reporting platforms, including the city’s groundbreaking data visualization tool (visualization.phillybuildingbenchmarking.com) and custom energy performance profiles emailed to every building owner that participates in the program.

“By participating in the SEED Collaborative, Philadelphia will have the opportunity to guide the development of the SEED tool and contribute toward the DOE goal of doubling American energy productivity by 2030,” said Christine Knapp, Director for the Office of Sustainability.

The city’s Greenworks sustainability plan has emphasized building efficiency as a key component of climate action; buildings account for 60 percent of the city’s carbon footprint, as compared to just 19 percent for transportation.

Philadelphia Releases Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia

climate ready

Today, the City of Philadelphia released its first climate adaptation report, Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia. An important first step toward preparing for a warmer, wetter future, the report details the impacts of climate change on municipal operations, assets, programs and policies and lays out actions that the City can take to mitigate those impacts.

“While world leaders are gathered in Paris to negotiate an international agreement, we are focused on what we can and need to do at the local level,” said Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia. “The effects of a changing climate are already apparent in Philadelphia. We need to understand what climate change will look like on the ground and how to advance smart, proactive initiatives that will help us to prepare. Climate actions often come with a host of co-benefits that we are eager to identify and incorporate into how we make decisions and investments.”

Growing Stronger is the culmination of a multi-year planning process convened by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability with the participation of a broad set of City departments and agencies. The report includes:

  • Detailed climate projections for Philadelphia: MOS worked with climate scientists to develop detailed projections of the warmer and wetter climate the Philadelphia region can expect over the next 85 years.
  • Vulnerability assessment for city-owned assets: Data provided by City departments allowed MOS to evaluate how climate stressors (extreme heat, an increase in winter precipitation, and sea level rise, among others) will impact existing city-owned assets.
  • Early implementation adaptation strategies: While ensuring Philadelphia continues to grow and thrive as the climate changes is a long-term process, Growing Stronger identifies strategies the City can undertake now to build resilience into existing programs and future assets.

The report is available online at: http://www.phila.gov/green/pdfs/Growing%20Stronger.pdf

 

Philadelphia Farmers’ Markets

Did you know that the number of farmers markets in Philadelphia has more than doubled in the last five years? In almost every corner of the city, farmers markets are serving up fresh produce, local goods, cooking classes, and food education.

Conveniently located in the shadow of City Hall, Dilworth Park Farmers’ Market sells produce, fresh bread, honey, and herbs.

Conveniently located in the shadow of City Hall, Dilworth Park Farmers’ Market sells produce, fresh bread, honey, and herbs.

Providing walkable access to affordable, healthy food was an integral part of the Greenworks Philadelphia sustainability plan, and in 2009 Greenworks set a goal of bringing local food within a 10-minute walk of 75 percent of residents (expanded to all residents in the 2012 report update).

Want to find a farmers market near you? Greenworks’ interactive map offers an interactive way to explore Philadelphia’s markets, co-ops, and more. Philly Food Finder, developed by the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council, provides additional information about using SNAP benefits at the markets.

Measuring Philadelphia’s Carbon Footprint

inventory screenshotIncreasingly people and organizations, from individual residents to multinational corporations, are becoming interested in how much they contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions changing our climate. The City of Philadelphia is no different. As outlined in our Greenworks Progress Report released last month, the City has been tracking emissions both from its own operations and assets as well as the carbon footprint for Philadelphia as a whole for several years.

This week, we’re diving more deeply into this data with two new reports available at http://www.phila.gov/green:

  • Municipal Greenhouse Gas Inventory: The City of Philadelphia is the single-largest property owner — and emitter of greenhouse gases — in the city. This report assesses the carbon footprint for those assets owned and operated by the municipal government in 2013*.
  • Citywide Greenhouse Gas Inventory: To plan programs and policies designed to reduce Philadelphia’s overall impact on global climate change, a reliable baseline of citywide carbon emissions is essential. This report covers the most recent complete dataset available, 2012*, and outlines greenhouse gas emissions by sectors including buildings, transportation, and process emissions from industrial sources.

Appendices to both reports with additional data are available on our resources page.

Among the key takeaways from these documents:

  • Buildings continue to be the primary source of carbon emissions in Philadelphia. While smokestacks and traffic jams are more visible reminders of our society’s reliance on carbon-intensive fossil fuels, more than 60 percent of Philadelphia’s citywide emissions result from building energy usage in our homes and businesses.
  • A cleaner grid is reducing our emissions profile. The carbon intensity of electricity produced by PJM (the regional power grid that serves Philadelphia) decreased between 2005 and 2010 (the most recent data available) thanks to declining coal usage and an uptick in natural gas and renewable energy sources.
  • Tracking emissions is a key part of planning Philadelphia’s climate future. The City is committed to continuing to update its greenhouse gas inventories on a regular basis, both to educate the public and to inform policy discussions that will influence the future of Philadelphia’s carbon footprint.

*Both the municipal and citywide inventories rely on data sources that are updated infrequently and with a significant time delay; this is why 2012 and 2013 inventories are only now being published.

Greenworks 2015 Progress Report — and Map! — Released

Today we’re pleased to announce the release of the Greenworks 2015 Progress Report — the final sustainability report released under Mayor Nutter’s administration. You can read the full update right here.

To accompany the release of the report, MOS has partnered with Azavea to develop www.GreenworksMap.com, a new digital platform showcasing much of the sustainability work completed during the Greenworks implementation period (2009-15). Users can see Greenworks projects and initiatives in a citywide map-view, zoom to a particular neighborhood or address, and filter by areas of interest. The Map will be available to partners to use and will be updated regularly as new projects are implemented.

Greenworks is a collaborative effort among the Office of Sustainability, other City departments and agencies, the private and non-profit sectors, and Philadelphia’s residents. To continue this work, we need your ideas and support. Please continue to be in touch with us on Twitter @GreenworksPhila, on Facebook, and at mos@phila.gov. Have a great summer!

 

 

 

Using the Benchmarking Tool to Visualize Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama made a strong statement in support of addressing the reality of climate change head-on. Philadelphia has been tackling the crisis though a series of measures as part of Greenworks, including a focus on building energy use, which accounts for 60% of citywide greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the building-level metrics that we have not been able to capture until now is how much carbon is being emitted in Philadelphia’s largest buildings. Just launched last week, the Benchmarking Data Visualization tool not only provides assistance to building owners and operators to understand how their building’s energy use compares to its peers, but can also provide carbon emission comparisons.comparison

Using the mapping tool, the user can change the usage to show emissions among the benchmarked buildings.  The user can then filter the buildings according to building sector and choose a category to show buildings of a certain size, type or age.  A building owner, manager or tenant can search and compare their building emissions to up to three peer buildings.

You can also visualize greenhouse gas emissions from these buildings using the chart tool. Here, you can visualize building carbon emissions by sector, building age, building size and individual building emissions.

comparisonstats by building type

For more information about the Philadelphia’s energy benchmarking program and the Year Two Energy Benchmarking report, please visit www.phila.gov/benchmarking or contact benchmarkinghelp@phila.gov.