Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, is looking for a makeover – a green one. The goal of Philadelphia is to reduce the city’s vulnerability to rising energy costs. As such, its research, development, and investment into the area of cleantech have made it one of the top cities in the United States when it comes to renewable energy and energy efficiency. The current mayor Michael Nutter, in his 2008 inaugural address, pledged to make this city the number one green city in America, and created the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in that sense.
1) The Navy Yard. The Navy Yard plays a key part in the commitment to turn Philadelphia into the “Greenest City in America.” All buildings in the Navy Yard must register with the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) program. This once eyesore is now being converted into a central location for new green energy jobs and clean energy innovation. Not only that, but in a time of recession, the completion of the Navy Yard will provide new, permanent employment opportunities. For example, a large European home energy efficiency company, Mark Group, is going to be making the Navy Yard one of its homes, and plans to hire over 300 new workers.
2) Philadelphia Eagles Stadium to be Powered with Renewable Energy. Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, is soon to be the first major sports stadium in the world that will be 100 percent run on on-site renewable energy, including a combination of on-site wind, solar, and dual-fuel generated electricity. Renewable energy conservation company SolarBlue is responsible for installing 80 20-foot-spiral-shaped wind turbines on the top rim of the stadium, as well as 2,500 solar panels along the façade. A 7.6 megawatt on-site dual-fuel cogeneration plant will also be there. More than $30 million will be invested into this project over the next year, which should be complete by September of 2011. It is estimated that these changes will save the Eagles approximately $60 million in energy costs. According to Jeffrey Lurie, team owner and chief executive officer, “This commitment builds upon our comprehensive environmental sustainability program, which includes energy and water conservation, waste reduction, recycling, composting, toxic chemical avoidance and reforestation. It underscores our strong belief that environmentally sensitive policies are consistent with sound business practices.”
3) Increase in Solar Energy Technology. A new solar energy plant is going up by the Navy Yard. It is a project between $8 and $12 million and would provide enough power to 200 homes annually. It was developed from German company Epuron, which has their United States headquarters in Philadelphia. Because of the increase in solar technology, Philadelphia was named a “Solar American City” and was provided with a $200,000 award to assist in the study of how to triple solar energy capacity in plants by 2011.
4) Philadelphia Gas Works Renewable Energy Initiatives. Philadelphia Gas Works, as part of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, has the objective to elevate the total use of renewable energy up to 20 percent of the total energy expenditures of the city. It focuses on the use of solar power mainly. Some of the initiatives include tutorials on the basics of solar power, an industry guidebook on solar power unit installation, inspector training, and three city-wide solar installations at the Navy Yard, Southeast Wastewater Pollution Control Plant, and the Baxter Water Treatment Facility.
5) Green Energy Capital Partner’s Solar Energy Plant. Green Energy Capital Partners, in 2008, created the plans to build the second largest solar energy plant near Green Acres Industrial Park. This project costs around $60million and provides 100 megawatts of energy with 40,000 solar panels. The government has been providing all the financial as well as material support for the project, as it gets several million dollars in incentives to create the facility.
6) Weatherizing Row Houses and Creating Jobs. Philadelphia is improving energy efficiency and lowering unemployment rates at the same time with numerous green projects. One project is educating individuals on weatherization of their homes. The program, run by the Energy Coordinating Agency, wants to provide weatherization for approximately 400,000 low-income row houses. The agency, along with Philadelphia Gas Works is footing the bills which could save individuals 30 to 40 percent on heating bills. Numerous individuals are being trained on weatherization techniques, such as insulation installation, caulking, and sealing.
7) Host of the World Green Energy Symposium. Every year, Philadelphia houses the World Green Energy Symposium. It is a three day event that “demonstrates the power of New Energy by providing a platform for connections, education, information exchange, contracting, and business networking opportunities in the industry.” It is a time where organizations, businesses, government agencies, academia, students, and others from around the globe can connect and focus on clean, green, and renewable energy technologies.
8 ) Philadelphia Recycling Rewards. To promote recycling, the Philadelphia Recycling Rewards Program enables individuals to earn points based on how much an individual recycles. These points can be redeemed for gift cards and certificates, discounts, and so much more. The program is powered by RecycleBank, an organization that works to motivate individuals to engage in various green behaviors by providing point incentives that can be used on groceries, merchandise, and discounts. All individuals need to do is stick a sticker on their recycle bin and it gets scanned, giving individuals rewards!
9) Philadelphia Solar Energy Association. The mission of the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association is simple – “to promote the rapid adoption of solar energy technologies in the Delaware Valley through distinguished guest lecturers, hands on demonstrations, participation in regional and national conferences, and other methods and activities.” They also provide information on the solar incentive programs throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
10) The Provision of Energy Rebates and Tax Credits. To assist businesses and homeowners with energy efficiency, Philadelphia has created a number of energy rebates and tax credits. For example there is the Keystone HELP Energy Efficiency Loan Program, which supports installation of high efficiency air conditioning, heating, insulation, doors, windows, and whole-house improvements by providing a maximum of $35,000 to homeowners whose yearly household income does not exceed $150,000. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program offers $2.25.W rebates for solar panels based on the system capacity, and a maximum of $20,000 for space heating or solar thermal water systems. Other rebates include the Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, and the USDA High Energy Cost Grant Program.
Shawn Lesser is the president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org