by Aubrey Dangelo
Widener University Political Science Major
Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter recently unleashed a plan called Greenworks Philadelphia, which is aimed at creating environmental sustainability and lowering the city’s energy expenditures. Part of the plan involves a new law that has already been enacted called the Building Energy Benchmarking Law. This new legislation would require the owners of commercial buildings in Philadelphia that exceed 50,000 square feet to report their energy usage for online, public disclosure, and businesses in Philadelphia have until October 31, 2013 to comply with this law without the imposition of fines. This is all part of his strategy aimed at making Philadelphia the most environmentally friendly city in the United States by the year 2015. Among Nutter’s extensive list of objectives are claims to double the number of green jobs in the city between now and the year 2015, save taxpayers money, cut traffic congestion, clean the air, beautify neighborhoods, and improve Philadelphians’ diets. That’s quite an ambitious goal, if you ask me.
Whether or not Nutter fulfills all of these commitments, his plan is sure to have a significant impact on Philadelphia’s environmental practices, and some progress has already been made. Some recent accomplishments that Mayor Nutter boasts are a reduction of energy use in government buildings by 7 percent, an increase in alternative energy use from 2.5 percent to 14 percent, and nearly 90,000 trees planted since 2008. While it is important that the people and businesses of the United States make some drastic changes to their environmental practices, it is somewhat ridiculous of Mayor Nutter to attempt to make Philadelphia the “greenest” city in the U.S. in such a short amount of time. School budgets are being slashed left and right, and out of the nation’s ten most populated cities, Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty. People with incomes below half of the poverty line make up 12.9% of Philadelphia’s populace. Nutter’s goals are well-intentioned, but perhaps a bit hasty.