Pennsylvania Environmental Council honors seven Philadelphia Sustainability Award winners

Seven winners were honored at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s (PEC) 2008 Philadelphia Sustainability Awards held Monday, March 3 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

More than a dozen “sustainability innovators” were finalists for the awards presented at a ceremony held during the annual Philadelphia Flower Show, produced by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

The awards showcase the Philadelphia region’s progress toward becoming the most sustainable city in America. The winners include homebuilders who design green buildings, environmentally-oriented charter schools, a business philanthropist, and a bicycling group that has young people refurbish old bicycles as a way to cut down greenhouse gases.

A distinguished panel of judges including nonprofit, government and business leaders from across the region selected six winners. Additionally, one “People’s Choice Award,” generated by online voting, was announced at the awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony is part of PEC’s initiative to educate, promote and encourage sustainable policies and practices among consumers, business owners and government agencies in the local region.

“This year’s winners confirm that the Philadelphia region is a hotbed of sustainable innovation by business leaders, entrepreneurs, individuals and government,” said Patrick Starr, Vice President of the Southeast Region of PEC.  “The awards highlight practical achievements towards sustainability and encourage all Philadelphians to ‘go green’ as a matter of economic and personal growth.”


Treevitalize is a public private partnership that collaborates to address the loss of tree cover in the five-county Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Goals include planting 20,000 shade trees; restoring 1,000 acres of forests along streams and water protection areas; and training 2,000 citizens to plant and care for trees.

Treevitalize won for its successful, unique partnership between public, private and non-profit sectors; its efforts to address the problem of tree loss, which not only effects neighborhood aesthetics, but also air quality (health); and its plans to replicate efforts in Pittsburgh and other metro areas around the state

Willingboro Master Plan and Public Library, the new master plan for a town plaza, developed with the help of the community, was designed to remediate a brownfield site and calls for commercial and residential development and the reuse of as many of the existing structures as possible. The Library was the first building constructed and serves as an anchor for future retail stores, open space, and an art gallery.

The project, led by Croxton Collaborative Architects, impressed the jurors because it: took the abandoned shopping center and used it to bring commerce back to the small, diverse community; demonstrated a principle value of sustainability – use existing assets – by utilizing the entire steel structure of the existing building.

Wissahickon Charter School provides a community of learning with an environmental focus that stimulates the child’s intellectual, social, and character development.

The school won because it provides environmental education in a highly urbanized setting, where most of the students are minorities and from low-wealth families; the school has both green building elements (solar panels on roof) and environmental curriculum; and it raises awareness of the importance of sustainability among students, families, neighbors and communities.

Neighborhood Bike Works offers classes on bike repair and bike safety after school, on weekends, and in the summer. Students complete a 7-week basic Earn a Bike class teaching repair, safe and effective urban cycling, fitness, and environmental responsibility, and work together to fix up used bikes donated by the community. Upon completion, each earns a bike, a helmet and lock.

Neighborhood Bike Works impressed the jurors with the way in which: refurbishing un-used bikes, teaches kids that things are not as disposable as they thought, and saved 13,000 bikes (20 tons) from going into landfills; it teaches kids new skills and self-confidence, and promotes the use of biking as a healthier, cleaner way to travel.

Don Bradley is a life-long resident and native Philadelphian. The visionary homebuilder set out over 18 years ago to show the potential for green building to reduce energy consumption, improve housing affordability, eliminate fossil-fuel use and improve occupant comfort.

Mr. Bradley wowed the jurors through his innovative green building projects including: the award-winning ‘Solar Pennsylvanian’ home in 1989, a pioneering 1,400 SF passive-solar demonstration home in Honeybrook which eliminated on-site fossil fuel use; Maple Point, a 38-home community of Zero Energy Homes featuring passive solar design, solar hot water system, water saving fixtures, and low-emitting finishes; and partnerships with the U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Senators, Congresspeople, university students and many others.

Hal Taussig is the founder of a successful travel business, Untours, and creator of the Untours Foundation, funded by 100% of the profits from Untours. Over the course of its 15 year existence, the foundation has given away over $5 million in low-interest loans to economically deprived entrepreneurs both locally and worldwide.

The jurors chose to honor Taussig with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his personification of economic sustainability.  They were also impressed with Taussig’s commitment to Fair Trade and social equity, and helping make Media become America’s first Fair Trade town.

Camphill Village Kimberton Hill was honored with the People’s Choice award. The People’s Choice award encourages nominees to spread the word about their sustainability projects and garner votes from colleagues, clients, family and friends.  Through their outreach, more people visited the Camhill Village Kimberton Hills and voted than any other nominee.

The Philadelphia Sustainability Awards is a program of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia, Delaware Valley Green Building Council, PennFuture, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Reinvestment Fund, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and American Institute of Architects,. The 2008 awards ceremony was sponsored by Urban Engineers and Environmental Management Assistance Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council protects and restores the natural and built environments through innovation, collaboration, education and advocacy.  It believes in the value of partnerships with the private sector, government, communities and individuals to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.  Founded in 1970, its advocacy work includes commenting on proposed legislation and regulations, testifying before the General Assembly committees and publishing analyses of environmental issues.