By Nicole Contosta, University City Review
Despite the nearly oppressive heat, over fifty environmental enthusiasts, including Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, came to celebrate the launching of the Green and Healthy Initiative on North Holly Street, a quiet block right above Powelton Avenue and between 41st and 42nd Streets, last Tuesday, June 29th.
Implemented by the Partnership CDC in conjunction with SCI-West, the Green and Healthy Initiative aims to “create a holistic view on a block-to-block basis,” said the CDC’s Executive Director Steve Williams, going on to note the other entities supporting the program. They include: PECO, Bio Neighbors, R.I.S.E., Councilwoman Blackwell and the Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services for Ex-Offenders.
The initiative, continued Williams, consists of two primary components: “The Healthy Homes Program, a green energy education for homeowners and the Green Professionals Training, a green construction job-training program designed for local residents and contractors.”
According to Williams, under the Healthy Homes Program, “homeowners will receive environmentally friendly money saving techniques that make their homes both green and safe.”
“Participants,” continued Williams, “may be eligible to receive a cost and energy saving eco roof at a nominal fee.” Those who install eco roofs will save an average of $300 a year on their energy bill, added Williams.
Specifically targeted toward ex-offenders, the Green Training Program will teach them the emerging green construction industry, said Williams.
“Unlike the digital divide, where lower income communities still struggle to receive adequate computers and training, the CDC wanted to bring the Green and Healthy Initiative “here while it was still on the edge,” remarked Williams.
Homeowners who opt to install an eco roof can choose between two types: White or green roofs, said Williams. An acrylic substance plastered on the existing structure, white roofs “reflect the heat which creates an ambient, cool temperature to the touch, which reduces the temperature indoors,” explained Williams.
Green roofs, on the other hand, “achieve more,” said Williams, going on to explain that they “help with water retention and exchange of oxygen absorbs C02.” As for its cooling effects, Williams explained that people who had installed them remained comfortable with only a fan on during the summer’s hottest days. That said, in order to install a green roof, “the roof must be totally flat,” said Williams, adding, “This isn’t necessary with a white one and flattening the roof can be very expensive.”
So out of all the blocks across the city, why choose North Holly Street?
During the project’s planning stages, the CDC needed to determine which ones used the most energy. Through its work with SCI-West’s Iola Harper and Harper’s meetings with the Commerce Department, a broad map provided information on what blocks fell under the highest energy usage. North Holly Street, Williams went on to say, “falls within SCI-West’s Catchment area.”
A local non-profit, the Partnership CDC strives to provide affordable housing, job creation and training, economic development and environmental awareness in West and Southwest Philadelphia. Open since 1992, the Partnership CDC has developed over 370 affordable housing units, counseled over 6,400 families and directly invested over $60 million into its Catchment area. For more information on the CDC or the Green and Healthy Initiative, go to: partnershipcdc.org.