Contract Opportunity: Energy Master Plan

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The Office of Sustainability is working to develop a comprehensive energy master plan to increase energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and energy resiliency in municipal buildings and the built environment throughout Philadelphia. When complete, the document will serve as a business plan for the City’s energy work.  The plan should include strategies for all categories of buildings and facilities in the built environment, energy procurement, energy management, financing, resiliency, and sustainability including the social, economic and environmental co-benefits to the City of energy systems change.

Interested parties can review the RFP for opportunity number 21160331144055 on the City’s econtracts website.

 

Join Us For An Earth Day Twitter Chat #AskPhilly

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As part of Earth month, the Office of Sustainability and our Director Christine Knapp will be hosting a Twitter chat on Earth Day, April 22nd from noon to 1pm.

Feel free to send your questions or comments to us @GreenworksPhila using #AskPhilly.

If you can’t make it, don’t worry. You can also share your feedback by completing this survey or in person at one of several neighborhood discussions.

We hope to hear from you!

Two April Opportunities You Don’t Want To Miss

philly-spring-cleanup-16-billboard-home-phase-2Spring has sprung! And with the change of season comes more time enjoying the outdoors and all that Philadelphia has to offer. Here are two great opportunities to get outside and improve your community.

  • The 9th Annual Philly Spring Cleanup is set for Saturday, April 9th from 9 am to 2 pm. It is a great way for you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors to get involved and do your part to keep our City looking its best. Dedication like yours, along with the can-do attitude of thousands of volunteers all over the city is exactly what we need to keep our City clean and green. You can sign up to volunteer or submit a project on the Philly Spring Cleanup website.
  • Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is offering a free six week course on park forest management. You’ll learn how to protect our forests, train to be a citizen scientist, and expand your knowledge of our urban ecosystem. The courses will take place at Pennypack Environmental Education Center at 8600 Verree Road. The six classes will be held on April 6, April 13, April 20, April 27 and May 4, and May 14. For more information and application instructions, contact Director of Urban Forestry & Ecosystem Management Joan Blaustein at 215-683-0215 or via email. The deadline to sign up is April 1, so don’t wait!

City’s Quadplex Project: A Model For Future Energy Efficiency Investments

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In Mayor Kenney’s budget address on March 3, he outlined plans to invest in community infrastructure and city-owned buildings, including investments in energy efficiency. With the potential for more energy efficiency projects on the horizon, we wanted to share more about the Quadplex Guaranteed Energy Savings Project (GESA), which could serve as a model for future investments.

The project, enabled by the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA), uses the savings from increased building energy efficiency to pay for retrofits and other upgrades. Energy savings realized through a GESA project are allocated to project repayment, and the remaining savings can be used for other municipal programs.

City Hall, the Municipal Services Building, One Parkway Building, and the Criminal Justice Center — collectively referred to as the Quadplex — are among the City’s largest energy users and were selected based on their energy savings potential.

In late 2009, the City selected the energy service company Noresco to complete an energy audit, develop energy conservation measures (ECMs), and to manage implementation. The City chose high payback energy conservation measures that produced a project with positive cash flow, strong environmental benefits, and improvements to tenant spaces. This work resulted in facilities that are easier to operate and more comfortable for workers and visitors.

Many of the upgrades are invisible to building users. These include improvements to boilers, steam pipe insulation, and HVAC drives and filters. In addition, the City has adopted new building control systems. These systems include web-based software that allows city staff to remotely monitor and manage HVAC systems in real time. Increased capacity to control HVAC is particularly important because building heating and cooling account for between 50-60% of Quadplex building energy use.

Some of the Quadplex upgrades are more visible to building users, such as the installation of low-flow water fixtures. Visitors to City Hall who look up while in main building entrance vestibules can now see new LED lighting.

The results of the Quadplex GESA Project thus far are overwhelmingly positive. The City saved approximately $2 million in utility costs during the construction phase and received over a $1 million in rebates for the project.  Going forward, the City expects an annual cost savings of about $1.45 million. All bonds used to fund the project will be completely paid for in 15 years.

For more information on the Quadplex project, you can check out our Quadplex case study.

City’s Demand Response Program: Rolling Up Our Sleeves for Revenue

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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.

Volunteers Set Zero Waste Record at Philadelphia Marathon

11_waste watchersIf 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.

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!